Warren Buffett’s 90th Birthday

I am quoted in this AARP article on Warren Buffett’s 90th birthday.

Buffett’s three traits

What makes Buffett a super investor?

Start with hard workWhen Buffett was a boy, he delivered newspapers, sold golf balls and stamps, and washed cars for extra cash. During his working life, he typically spent 12 hours a day reading, says David Kass, clinical professor of finance at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business. “I imagine by now he’s down to eight hours a day,” Kass says, “but he’s constantly reading financial reports and statements.”

Another is training. Buffett’s studies with Graham, who is widely known as the “father of value investing,” left a lasting impression. “The basic ideas of investing are to look at stocks as business, use the market’s fluctuations to your advantage, and seek a margin of safety,” Buffett said. “That’s what Ben Graham taught us. A hundred years from now they will still be the cornerstones of investing.”

And finally, there’s patience — or what Buffett calls temperament. “Buffett would say, half jokingly, ‘If you have an IQ above 125, sell the extra points,’” says Kass. “That’s all you need. After that, it’s all temperament.” The patience to hold stocks for the long term is part of what Buffett calls temperament. The other part is to be in control of your emotions. If you’re terrified when the stock market is falling, you won’t be able to take advantage of stocks selling at bargain prices. If you’re euphoric when the market is soaring, you’ll pay too much. And in either event, you won’t be able to hold stocks for the long term.

 

Can a man with more than $80 billion in the bank really have the modest, folksy persona that Buffett is known for? Kass, who has followed Buffett since 1980 and brought students to meet him, says yes. “That’s who he is,” Kass says. “He’s a naturally friendly, warm individual, and has always been that way. He has a great sense of humor and loves to teach — he has said that if he hadn’t been a portfolio manager, he’d have been a professor.” 

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