IT was on a date like today’s a decade ago – August 30, 2007 – that one ‘Michael Jackson,’ an English Author-cum-Journalist, died. Born in Yorkshire March 27, 1942, the Michael Jackson here – not to be confused with the American ‘King of Pop Michael (Wacko) Jackson’ (1958-2009) – was a ‘beer aficionado’ who published several Magazine articles on beer, and (beery) books titled ‘The English Pub’ (1976); ‘World Guide to Beer’ (1977), and ‘The Great Beers of Belgium’ (1991)… Cheers!
But, that’s not the story here today – grim as it is… Looking on the lighter, brighter side of things, a more ‘lifelubricating’ subject-matter that’s also topical is/was the birth, on Aug. 30, 1930, of dollar- billionaire Warren Edward Buffett, described as ‘an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist…one of the most successful investors in the world...’
Eighty-seven years old today, Warren Buffett (also not to be confused with ‘warren:’ a rabbit-breeding ground; or a ‘buffet:’ a display cupboard for tableware) may not be as popular globally as (say) fellow billionaire Bill Gates… Born and residing in Omaha, Nebraska, in the US – and lauded by the mass media fraternity as the ‘Oracle/Wizard/ Sage of Omaha’ – Buffett’s ‘net worth’ was estimated at US$68.2bn as of March 2017— up from $62bn in Year-2008! [Bloomberg/The Indian Express: March 14, 2017].
With a total net-worth estimated at US$62bn, Buffett was the world’s richest person in Year-2008, toppling Bill Gates over, at No.1 for 13 consecutive years… But, that was temporary, as Gates scrambled back atop in Year-2009…! And, according to Bloomberg, octogenarian Warren Buffett is today the world’s third richest person, with a networth wealth of US$68.2bn.
At Number one is, of course, Microsoft co-Founder Bill Gates (US$85.9bn), followed by the Founder and Chairman of the Spain-based Inditex Fashion Group (‘Zara’ brand), Amancia Ortega (US$75.8bn)… Number-4? US entrepreneur Jeff Bezos (net-worth: US$$63.1bn), Founder-Chairman of the online shopping giant ‘Amazon.’
Nos-5 & 6 are the American brothers Charles and David Koch (each with a networth of US$55.2bn), owners of the Koch Industries conglomerate… [The Indian Express Update: March 14, 2017].
Boring? You can say that again…! Buffett (87) started building his fortune in 1951 – and is still at it 66 years down the ‘Road of Entrepreneurial Endeavours that’s paved with Berkshire Hathaway investments,’ so to speak! ‘Berkshire Hathaway’ started out as a textile manufacturer before it was acquired from the owner, Seabury Stanton, by the ‘Buffett Partnership’ that included investment gurus the likes of Benjamin Graham and Charlie Munger.
There was no looking back from then on! The partners peremptorily sacked Stanton, and ‘created the diversified holding company’ that’s Berkshire Hathaway the way we know it today – most ably led by Munger and Buffett on an annual salary of a relatively measly US$100,000! What role, pray, did formal Education play in Warren Buffett’s future success? Weeeeeell…
The ubiquitous Internet tells us that (our) “Buffett developed an interest in business and investing as a youth, eventually entering the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 before graduating from Nebraska University in Lincoln at the age of 19!” He then graduated from Columbia University “where he learned, and eventually moulded, his investment philosophy around the ‘value-investing’ concept pioneered by Benjamin Graham.”
Buffett also attended the New York Institute of Finance ‘to specialise his Economics background – and, soon after, began various business partnerships’ – including the one with Graham and Munger… But, much earlier than that, the young Buffett wanted to skip College after High School to go directly into business.
However, he was overruled by his father, 4-term US Congressman Howard Buffett (1903-1964)! Seems business was flowing in his veins (and arteries, naturally!) – inspired by a book he read at age-7 titled ‘One Thousand Ways to make $1000!’
Thence, the young Collegian clambered aboard the Business Bandwagon, “selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola bottles (‘chupa tupu?’); golfballs; stamps; newspapers and weekly magazines door-to-door… The rest is History that’s still in the making! What with one thing leading to another, Buffett has been Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and largest shareholder since Year-1970.
He’s noted for adhering to ‘value-investing’ – and for “his personal frugality despite his immense wealth!” ‘Value-investing’ entails a strategy where stocks are selected that trade for less than their intrinsic values.
Valueinvestors actively seek stocks which they believe the market has undervalued. So, it’s an investment paradigm which generally involves buying securities that appear underpriced by some form of fundamental analysis.
It’s a long-term strategy where investors buy stocks with strong fundamentals that are undervalued – and profit when the market corrects…” Hence the proverbial Buffettism that ‘Price’s what you pay; value’s what you get!’