Book Log – Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World’s Most Successful Investor

Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World’s Most Successful Investor by Ayano Morio (translated from original Japanese version)

I picked this up at Berkstock, intrigued by how a Japanese graphic novelist would view Buffett’s story. Would he have Warren performing Matrix-like kicks to the face of competitors? Would he have an energy pulse exploding from his hands into the ticker machine, causing prices to rise or fall at will? Who knew?

Turns out, it’s a fairly simplified version of Roger Lowenstein’s Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, with pictures, which have little to add to a story with few (or rather, no) action sequences.

Which anyone could have guessed; On the back of the book are a bunch of raving quotes… about Buffett himself, rather than the graphic novel.

What’s Round On The Side and Mah in the Middle?

In Ohio, there was a song we sang in school that had the line “What’s round on the sides and high in the middle? O-HI-O!” In fact, that may be the whole song. Not sure. It’s all fuzzy.

But what’s not fuzzy is that by 8pm Nebraska time tonight, I will be in Omaha, NE, prepared to geek the hell out.

It’s only just dawning on me that I will be without a computer for more than 48 hours! Unless you count a Palm! Which I don’t! Because it doesn’t have internet access!1

I will have a trusty Moleskine Ruled Notebook and Mini G2 Gel Pen, which means that all the notes I take will be Hemmingway quality, except more gel’d.

I will be sure to give Warren and Charlie a big hug from all of you.

And pick their pocket while I’m at it.

1 Yes, I’m spazzing out.

A Long Way To Go For A Coffee Table

I have a plane ticket to (and from) Omaha, Nebraska.

I have a car reserved in Omaha, Nebraska.

I am anxiously awaiting a phone call from a nice lady who will book me a hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska.

I have a request for credentials about to go in the mail, which will get me into the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

This trip is 8 years in the making. What will I be doing in Omaha, Nebraska?

I will be sitting in an auditorium with 27,000 people listening to a 77 year old man and an 84 year old man talk about life, investing and business.

I will be walking around, admiring the products of all the many, many businesses owned by the company that the 77 and 84 year old men run.

I may tour private luxury jets that I could spend thousands of dollars to buy a small percentage of.

I will be shopping for a coffee table in the largest single-building furniture store in the world.

I may watch a 2 time U.S. Chess champion play chess against 6 opponents simultaneously, blindfolded.

There will also be a magician.

Why am I doing this?

Because I am such a geek I even shun myself.

Also, so the Dragon*Con folks can have someone to roll their eyes at.

That Time of Year

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report came out March 4! Woohoo!

Alas, yet again this year I won’t be making it out to the annual meeting
that is “Woodstock for Capitalists”. I don’t get to find out if it
involves as much mud, drugs and nudity as the original Woodstock.

Next year. Next year will be the year.

Highlights from Berkshire

Glenn asked me to summarize the Warren Buffett annual Letter to Shareholders, so here’s the good stuff for people not particularly interested in Berkshire itself.

Berkshire bought Fruit of the Loom a few years ago:

“In apparel, Fruit of the Loom increased unit sales by 10 million dozen, or 14%, with shipments of intimate apparel for women and girls growing by 31%. Charlie [Warren’s 80 or so year old partner], who is far more knowledgeable than I am on this subject, assures me that women are not wearing more underwear. With this expert input, I can only conclude that our market share in the women’s category must be growing rapidly.”

On the opening of a new R.C. Willey store, after Warren had discouraged the opening of previous stores in Las Vegas because he felt the closed-on-Sunday rule of W.C. Willey wouldn’t fly outside of Utah. He was very, very wrong about this discouragement, the Las Vegas stores have dwarfed the Utah stores in sales.

“R.C. Willey will soon open in Reno. Before making this commitment, Bill and Scott again asked for my advice. Initially, I was pretty puffed up about the fact that they were consulting me. But then it dawned on me that the opinion of someone who is always wrong has its own special utility to decision-makers.”

On NetJets, Berkshire’s fractional-ownership of jets company.
“I viewed the selection of a flight provider as akin to picking a brain surgeon: you simply want the best. (Let someone else experiment with the low bidder.)”

He also referenced two articles he had penned this past year. The Fortune article is a very readable must-read for anyone interested in the particular hand baskets the U.S. is riding to hell in (trade deficits and budget deficits). The other one is an interesting summary of why it is a good thing that the SEC is making corporations expense stock options.

Selling The Nation from Fortune.
Fuzzy Math and Stock Options from The Washington Post

The rest of the letter is interesting reading (at least, to me), but not easily summarized. He discusses for many paragraphs the two topics of the above articles very eloquently and simply.

One interesting item is that his wife died this year, and there is nary a mention of it in the letter, though he has mentioned the passing and retirements of other Berkshire people. I guess, in the end, it’s a private thing.

I’m now pondering whether I could swing going to the annual meeting this year. What do you suppose tickets to Omaha, NE cost?

In other news, Coca-Cola Lime is just… eh.