Berkshire Hathaway 1999 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 1

Look at individual businesses, not at the market

Audience Member:

My name is Tim Spear. And I’m from Hertfordshire, England.

I was thinking in Ben Graham’s book, “The Intelligent Investor,” he spends the first couple of chapters discussing the level of the market and whether it was safe for investment. I was wondering what you think of the market today?

Warren Buffett:

Well, we don’t… Charlie and I don’t think about the market. And Ben didn’t very much. I think he made a mistake to occasionally try and place a value on it.

We look at individual businesses. And we don’t think of stocks as little items that wiggle around on the paper and that have charts attached to them. We think of them as parts of businesses.

And it is true that, currently, we have great trouble finding businesses that we both like and where we like the management and that they… and find them at an attractive price.

So, we do not find bargains in this market among the larger companies that are our universe.

That is not a stock market forecast in any way, shape, or form. We have no idea whether the market is going to go up today, or next week, or next month, or next year.

We do know that we will only buy things that we think make sense, in terms of the value that we receive for Berkshire. And when we can’t find things, the money piles up. And when we find… when we do find things, we pile in.

But the stock market… I know of no one that has been successful at… and really made a lot of money predicting the actions of the market itself. I know a lot of people who have done well picking businesses and buying them at sensible prices. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.


Charlie Munger:

How could you say it any better?

Warren Buffett:

Yeah, but the question is whether you can say it better, Charlie.

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