Customer Review

70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just buy the Compendium of Letters to Shareholders, April 22, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America (Paperback)
The book is well-organized, but it is just a reorganized version of Buffett's original words. I assume that readers purchased the book so that everything would be "laid out" for them. But as Charlie Munger, Berkshire's vice-chairman, said about common stock investments at a shareholders' meeting, "If it were that easy, everyone would be rich." One would be better off obtaining copies of the actual letters to shareholders. They are available on Berkshire Hathaway's website, and a compendium of letters to shareholders from 1977 to 1995 is available for purchase directly from the company for a reasonable price. I would recommend starting with the 1977 letter and proceeding in a chronological fashion. This would add context - a backdrop - for Buffett's investment philosophy. For instance, one would notice his evolution, as his emphasis shifted from mostly statistical undervaluation to favorable qualitative factors. Although he still seeks a "margin of safety" in his investment purchases, he is now more in tune with Philip Fisher than with Benjamin Graham. (His evolution was helped by Charlie Munger, who recognized, earlier in his investment career, the importance of subjective factors which are not readily quantifiable.) The book would be useful as a quick reference guide, but for the investment fanatic - and any truly successful investor is - the Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders are priceless.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 13, 2013 4:47:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 4:50:29 AM PDT
Good luck "just reading the letters" as you miss out on the value of this collection, which clearly states the big themes and sub themes. That's not done in the letters; that was not Buffett's purpose in writing the letters. That is Cunningham's purpose in preparing this collection. Also, add the letters up, and you have nearly half million words; here, you have about 120,000, sifted, filtered, culled, vetted, elegantly and wisely arranged. The Essays are worth way more than $35 to be sure.

(The writer of this comment overlooks a big part of the Essays, as well as the letters, as they are not for "investment fanatics" alone but for managers, business people, accountants, lawyers, regulators, and citizens, whether people invest or not.)
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