Warren Buffett

Buffett turned a talent for business and a head for numbers into a very successful investment career. His investment strategies and business plans have been both copied and criticized.

Warren Buffett bought his first stock at the age of eleven, later selling it for a profit of $5 per share. He enrolled in Columbia University in 1950 to study under Benjamin Graham, BenjaminGraham, author of The Intelligent Investor (1949). Buffett worked at Graham’s investment management company from 1954 to 1956 before returning to Omaha. There, he persuaded seven friends and relatives, including his sister Doris and his aunt Alice, to give him $105,000 to invest. In 1965, he took control of Berkshire HathawayBerkshire Hathaway, a textile manufacturer, and in 1967, he bought National Indemnity, an insurance company, to generate more cash for investing. Buffett developed his own variation of Graham’s method of identifying and buying undervalued companies, which is known as value investing. He invested so successfully that he made the Forbes 400 (an annual list of the richest people in the world) in 1979 and was named the richest person in the world in 2008 by the magazine.Buffett, Warren

Warren Buffett.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

Nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha, Buffett is famous for living modestly despite his enormous wealth. His salary is about $100,000, the lowest of all the chief executive officers in the Fortune 500 list of companies. The headquarters staff for Berkshire Hathaway consists of about fifteen people, also the lowest in the Fortune 500. He lives in the same house in Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. Buffett also is a noted Philanthropyphilanthropist. In 2006, he gave away stock worth more than $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2008, during the financial crisis, Buffett invested $5 billion in the Goldman Sachs Group and his Berkshire Hathaway (a holding company) agreed to buy $3 billion in preferred stock of ailing General Electric. These investments were viewed as being in line with Buffett’s strategy, which is to invest in good companies when they are experiencing weakness. His moves were regarded as providing the companies with a boost not only to the companies’ bottom lines but also to their reputations.

Further Reading

  • Buffett, Warren. The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America. Edited by Lawrence A. Cunningham. New York: Cunningham Group, 2001.
  • Lowenstein, Roger. Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist. New York: Random House, 1995.
  • O’Loughlin, James. The Real Warren Buffett: Managing Capital, Leading People. London: Nicholas Brealey, 2004.

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