Monday, February 13, 2006

Warren Buffett on Time

"Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre. You might think this principle is obvious, but I had to learn it the hard way. In fact, I had to learn it several times over. Shortly after purchasing Berkshire, I acquired a Baltimore department store, Hochschild Kohn, buying through a company called Diversified Retailing that later merged with Berkshire. I bought at a substantial discount from book value, the people were first-class, and the deal included some extras - unrecorded real estate values and a significant LIFO inventory cushion. How could I miss? So-o-o - three years later I was lucky to sell the business for about what I had paid."

"I could give you other personal examples of "bargain-purchase" folly but I'm sure you get the picture: It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price. Charlie understood this early; I was a slow learner. Now, when buying companies or common stocks, we look for first-class businesses accompanied by first-class managements."

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