The Best 100 Quotations from Warren Buffett on Investing, Leadership, and Life

Warren Buffett's 100 Best Quotations

  1. Investors making purchases in an overheated market need to recognize that it may often take an extended period for the value of even an outstanding company to catch up with the price they paid.
  2. Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
  3. If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%.
  4. Stop trying to predict the direction of the stock market, the economy, interest rates, or elections.
  5. It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.
  6. I am a better investor because I am a businessman, and a better businessman because I am an investor.
  7. Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
  8. The smarter the journalists are, the better off the society is to a degree. People read the press to inform themselves; and the better the teacher, the better the student body.
  9. Can you really explain to a fish what it’s like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value.
  10. In a bull market, one must avoid the error of the preening duck that quacks boastfully after a torrential rainstorm, thinking that its paddling skills have caused it to rise in the world. A right-thinking duck would instead compare its position after the downpour to that of the other ducks on the pond.
  11. Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction.
  12. The rich invest in time, the poor invest in money.
  13. The critical investment factor is determining the intrinsic value of a business and paying a fair or bargain price.
  14. We like to buy businesses, but we don’t like to sell them.
  15. Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.
  16. Great investment opportunities come around when excellent companies are surrounded by unusual circumstances that cause the stock to be misappraised.
  17. The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything—you can wait for your pitch. The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, ‘Swing, you bum!’
  18. The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.
  19. A great investment opportunity occurs when a marvelous business encounters a one-time huge, but solvable problem.
  20. Anything can happen in stock markets and you ought to conduct your affairs so that if the most extraordinary events happen, that you’re still around to play the next day.
  21. Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.
  22. Beware of geeks bearing formulas.
  23. Turnarounds seldom turn.
  24. I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.
  25. With few exceptions when a manager with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for poor economics, it is the reputation of the business which remains intact.
  26. Why not invest your assets in the companies you really like? As Mae West said, ‘Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.’
  27. Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
  28. I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out.
  29. Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.
  30. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
  31. If they try to time their purchases they will do very well for their broker and not very well for themselves.
  32. The Stock Market is designed to transfer money from the Active to the Patient.
  33. You ought to be able to explain why you’re taking the job you’re taking, why you’re making the investment you’re making, or whatever it may be. And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more. And if you can’t write an intelligent answer to those questions, don’t do it.
  34. Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.
  35. We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds.
  36. Always invest for the long term.
  37. Bad behavior is contagious. That’s how human nature works.
  38. We don’t get paid for activity, just for being right. As to how long we’ll wait, we’ll wait indefinitely.
  39. Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
  40. Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.
  41. Risk can be greatly reduced by concentrating on only a few holdings.
  42. The best defense in a tough economy is to add the most you can to society. Your money can be inflated away but your knowledge and talent cannot.
  43. Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.
  44. If I was running $1 million today, or $10 million for that matter, I’d be fully invested. Anyone who says that size does not hurt investment performance is selling. The highest rates of return I’ve ever achieved were in the 1950s. I killed the Dow. You ought to see the numbers. But I was investing peanuts then. It’s a huge structural advantage not to have a lot of money. I think I could make you 50% a year on $1 million. No, I know I could. I guarantee that.
  45. I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year.
  46. The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth.
  47. With enough insider information and a million dollars, you can go broke in a year.
  48. I do not like debt and do not like to invest in companies that have too much debt, particularly long-term debt. With long-term debt, increases in interest rates can drastically affect company profits and make future cash flows less predictable.
  49. Money to some extent sometimes let you be in more interesting environments. But it can’t change how many people love you or how healthy you are.
  50. Do what you’re passionate about. If you do this, there will be few people competing or running faster than you.
  51. Buy companies with strong histories of profitability and with a dominant business franchise.
  52. For some reason, people take their cues from price action rather than from values. What doesn’t work is when you start doing things that you don’t understand or because they worked last week for somebody else. The dumbest reason in the world to buy a stock is because it’s going up.
  53. Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1.
  54. It’s never a good idea to wait to do anything; given the uncertainty of life, just get going.
  55. An investor should ordinarily hold a small piece of an outstanding business with the same tenacity that an owner would exhibit if he owned all of that business.
  56. We believe that according the name ‘investors’ to institutions that trade actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a ‘romantic.’
  57. Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.
  58. I really like my life. I’ve arranged my life so that I can do what I want.
  59. If you are in a poker game and after 20 minutes you don’t know who the patsy is, then you’re the patsy.
  60. Enjoy your work and work for whom you admire.
  61. If you don’t feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don’t own it for 10 minutes.
  62. The fact that people will be full of greed, fear or folly is predictable. The sequence is not predictable.
  63. It’s class warfare; my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.
  64. Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.
  65. Never invest in a business you cannot understand.
  66. You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.
  67. Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.
  68. Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.
  69. You shouldn’t own common stocks if a 50 per cent decrease in their value in a short period of time would cause you acute distress.
  70. A hyperactive stock market is the pickpocket of enterprise.
  71. I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.
  72. The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities — that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future — will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.
  73. I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for ten years.
  74. There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.
  75. A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
  76. We will reject interesting opportunities rather than over-leverage our balance sheet.
  77. Lose money and I will forgive you, but lose even a shred of reputation and I will be ruthless.
  78. If a business does well, the stock eventually follows.
  79. When you are exceptional you jump off the page. There really isn’t that much competition there.
  80. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
  81. We will only do with your money what we would do with our own.
  82. We’ve used derivatives for many, many years. I don’t think derivatives are evil, per se, I think they are dangerous. …So we use lots of things daily that are dangerous, but we generally pay some attention to how they’re used. We tell the cars how fast they can go.
  83. An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he or she avoids big mistakes.
  84. Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.
  85. If the only reason you find for doing something is because others are doing it then that’s not good enough.
  86. Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.
  87. Focus on your customers and lead your people as though their lives depend on your success.
  88. I have pledged — to you, the rating agencies and myself — to always run Berkshire with more than ample cash. We never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations. When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.
  89. If past history was all that is needed to play the game of money, the richest people would be librarians.
  90. Read Ben Graham and Phil Fisher read annual reports, but don’t do equations with Greek letters in them.
  91. Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.
  92. When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.
  93. You do not adequately protect yourself by being half awake when other are sleeping.
  94. If at first you do succeed, quit trying on investing.
  95. In a commodity business, it’s very hard to be smarter than your dumbest competitor.
  96. It’s us fun being a gorse when the tractor comes along, or the blacksmith when the car comes along.
  97. We’re not looking at the aspects of the stock, we’re looking at the aspects of the business.
  98. You’re neither right nor wrong because other people agree with you. You’re right because your facts are right and your reasoning is right — that’s the only thing that makes you right. And if your facts and reasoning are right, you don’t have to worry about anybody else.
  99. It’s not debt per say that overwhelms an individual corporation or country. Rather it is a continuous increase in debt in relation to income that causes trouble.
  100. Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
Posted in Investing and Finance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *