[文章譯介]How Warren Buffett made his fortune?

How Warren Buffett made his fortune


Most investors are familiar with Warren Buffet, who is the man in command at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B). Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time, with a net worth placing him somewhere in the top three richest people in the world. His partner in crime was Charlie Munger, who has worked with him for the past 50 years. While most investors are familiar with the story of Berkshire Hathaway, few seem to know how exactly Buffett made his first millions, that catapulted him to Berkshire Hathaway and the companies and stocks he owns through it.


Buffett started several investment partnerships in 1956 with approximately $105,000 in investor money, after his former employer Graham-Newmann investment partnership was liquidated. Buffett had put an initial $700 of his own money, which ballooned to a stake worth $20 million by the time he liquidated his investment partnership in 1969. The assets under managed had grown to $100 million by that time. The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) annual letters to investors have been inspired by Buffett’s annual and semi-annual letters to his limited partners. 

在1956年,巴菲特前雇主- Graham-Newman投資公司清算後,他以美金近$105,000投資人的資金創立了數個投資合夥公司。起初巴菲特投入美金$700的自有資金,直至1969年他清算其投資合夥公司前,這筆資金已如氣球膨脹般價值達兩千萬美元。而那些管理的資金也已增值達一億美元。波克夏哈薩威給投資人的年度信函一直受到巴菲特給其有限合夥人的年度與半年度信函所啟發。
Per the Buffett Partners agreement, Buffett as the General Partner received a cut of the profits. For every percentage point gain above 6% in a given year, Buffett collected 25% of the gains. The Buffett Partnership Limited (BPL) was essentially a hedge fund, which pooled investor’s money and invested them at the discretion of the fund manager. Buffett never had a losing year during the thirteen years he ran the partnership, and he also managed to add new investors along the way. In addition, he reinvested any gains he made as a general partner back into the partnership. 


Buffett invested in the following types of companies at the partnership: generally undervalued securities, work-outs and control situations. Work-outs included stocks whose financial results depend on corporate actions rather than supply and demand factors created by buyers and sellers. Control situations include occasions where BPL either controlled the company or took a sufficiently large position that allowed it to influence policies of the company.


After the BPL was liquidated, Buffett received shares in Berkshire Hathaway, as well as shares in companies which ultimately merged in Berkshire. And the rest is history.


The lesson to be learned from this exercise is that in order to become rich, Warren Buffett had a scalable business model, with a substantial amount of leverage. Unfortunately, BPL was mostly a one-man operation, although the turnaround expert he employed with Dempster Mill Manufacturing company is a rare situation where he employed others. He did exchange ideas with several of his value investing friends however. Buffett’s investment model worked well when he had $100,000 in the partnership, as well as during the time that he had $100 million. The overvalued market in the late 1960’s however presented a change to his investment strategy. Buffett had leverage to make a lot of money, simply by being the general partner and earning a good cut on any earnings that the partnership generated, without much downside for himself. On the other hand, Charlie Munger made his initial million by using debt leverage to invest and build real estate.


The true genius of Buffett is his complete transformation in the 1970’s, when he started purchasing stock in companies with strong competitive advantages. He essentially held those stocks as long-term investments, and in the event where Berkshire acquired entire businesses, he delegated the whole oversight of day to day operations to skilled management. The companies he invested in the 1950’s and 1960’s represented mostly investments that were one-time producers of substantial gains for BPL. It took Buffett a lot of time to uncover those opportunities, but once they reached full valuation and he sold them, they were no longer producing any benefit for his partnership. He then had to spend more time to find more investments to allocate the now higher cash hoard. However, the companies and securities that Buffett purchased since the 1970’s for Berkshire Hathaway generate recurring cash flow streams to the company. As a result, the effort required to uncover these hidden gems resulted in cash distributions paid to the main holding company for decades. He then used these cash streams to purchase even more cash flow generating assets, which is why I believe that he is a closet dividend investor.


Buffett’s operations at Berkshire were further aided by almost cost-free float from insurance operations, which further magnified his investment returns. The float refers to the time period between when premiums are collected and claims paid out. During this time, insurers invest the premiums and generate returns. Buffett only does insurance deals when the pricing is right, and can guarantee that it doesn’t result in losses The float further magnified investment returns, therefore leveraging Buffett’s investment genius to produce gains for shareholders. For example, if you purchased Coca-Cola at $20 and it doubled in price, you can earn 100% return on your investment. If you put $20 of your money in the stock and invested $20 of cost free float, you would have earned a 200% return on that investment.


The genius of Buffett is that he has been able to uncover undervalued assets, over many different asset classes. Examples include his purchase of silver (SLV) in 1998, real estate investment trusts in 1999, foreign currencies such as the Euro in the early 2000’s as well as selling long-dated puts on major market indices. While he has a strategy of always looking for undervalued assets, he has been able to make a fortune for Berkshire by being flexible, and avoiding following a “rigid” strategy. By training himself to spot opportunities when they arose, he has been able to constantly reinvent himself and make money in different environments.










掏10億美元 巴菲特開NCAA賭盤 2014-01-23 01:50 工商時報 記者鍾志恒/綜合外電報


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 巴菲特沒有透露,吉爾伯特會負擔多少獎金,但他向CNN記者哈蘿維(Poppy Harlow)說:「吉爾伯特認為獎金金額太多,但我認為太少。」





 NCAA因為比賽結果難料而被稱為「3月瘋狂」(March Madness)。