Buffett invested in his first stock at age 11, buying shares Cities Service Preferred for $38 per share. He felied his first tax return at age 14, making his money by delivering newspapers. By the time he finished high school, he had bought a stake in a 40-acre farm in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo: Reuters)
Since the 1950s, Warren Buffett and his partners have backed some of the 20th century's most profitable, trendsetting companies and a new book seeks to uncover the key insights of his investments by journeying through his career that began in the late 1950s.
"Inside the Investments of Warren Buffett: Twenty Cases", portfolio manager Yefei Lu looks at 20 specific investments Buffett made which were significant because of either the size of the investment or which were otherwise especially informative.
The book consists of three sections. The first details five key investments Buffett made between 1957 and 1968 when he ran Buffett Partnership Limited, the private investment partnership he managed before taking over Berkshire Hathaway.
The second section details nine investments Buffett made 1968 and 1990, the first two decades when Berkshire Hathaway served as his investment vehicle. The final section focuses on the period at Berkshire since 1990.
Unlike a conventional biographical work, this book, published as a reprint edition by HarperCollins India, focuses on telling the story of Buffett only as it relates to his key investments.
Yefei starts with Buffett's interest in the Sanborn Map Company in 1958 and tracks 19 more of his major investments in companies like See's Candies, the Washington Post, GEICO, Coca-Cola, US Air, Wells Fargo, and IBM, accessing partnership letters, company documents, annual reports, third-party references, and other original sources.
The author pinpoints what is unique about Buffett's timing, instinct, use of outside knowledge, and post investment actions, and he identifies what could work for all investors with companies big and small, domestic and global.
His substantial chronology accounts for broader world events and fluctuations in the US stock market, suggesting Buffett's most important trait may be the breadth of his expertise.