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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B): 60+ Quotes From Buffett Himself

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The tried and true “classic” Warren Buffett quotes are classics because they’re great, timeless bits of investing wisdom. But sometimes they can also feel a bit too well worn. Following are 63 brand-new quotes from Buffett, fresh from the May 4 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) shareholder meeting.

1. On playing table tennis with Ariel Hsing at Borsheims: “If you’re courageous you’ll show up with your paddle and you’ll look like an idiot.”

2. “If the market continues as it has in 2013, this will be the first five-year period that Berkshire has underperformed. … It won’t be a happy day, but it won’t totally discourage us.”

3. On what makes ISCAR great: “[They] never stop improving the product, never stop trying to make customers happy.”Â

4. Responding to a shareholder who thanked him for letting attendees in early from the cold and rain: “If we had a company that sold coats, we would have left you out there.”

5. On his successor: “It would be rejected like a foreign tissue if we got the wrong person in there.”

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A)6. “Our board is devoted to Berkshire — we don’t pay them huge sums of money to keep them there.”

7. On the H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ) deal: “It was an absolutely fair deal; I didn’t have to change anything in the term sheet or the governance arrangement.”

8. “A 16-year-old will have more accidents than me, not because I’m a better driver, but because the 16-year-old is driving a lot more and is trying to impress the girl sitting next to him. That doesn’t work for me anymore.”

9. “Our ability to sell insurance at a price that’s considerably lower than most of our competitors … and at the same time earn a significant underwriting profit, suggests that our selection process is working quite well.”

10. “[Charlie] sent me out to try [Twitter] out and see if anything bad happened to me.”

11. To short-seller Doug Kass: “You haven’t convinced me yet to sell the stock, Doug, but keep trying.”

12. “If I had to bet whether corporate profits would be 10% of GDP … I would say I think they’re likely to trend downward, but GDP will also be growing, so it won’t be any terrible thing.”

13. On quantitative easing: “We really are in uncharted territory. I have a lot of faith in Bernanke — if he’s taking a risk, he’s taking a risk in an area he knows.”

14. Again on quantitative easing: “My guess is that the Fed wishes it had done some more to be inflationary … the easiest way to run up nominal GDP is to inflate.”

15. “Interest rates are to asset prices what gravity is to the apple. When there are low interest rates, there is a very low gravitational pull on asset prices.”

16. “We never stretch for yield.”

17. On building its commercial insurance business: “It’s better to build than to buy if you can find the right people.”

18. “Of our $49 billion, we haven’t moved anything to Bitcoin yet.”

19. “Berkshire is the 800 number when there’s panic in the markets and for one reason or another people need extra capital.”

20. “I would think that if you come to a day when the Dow has fallen 1,000 points for a few days … those naked swimmers will call Berkshire, and Berkshire’s reputation will become even more solidified for providing capital to sound deals.”

21. On big investments: “Our competitive advantage is that we had no competitors.”

22. On Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) and its customers’ loyalty: “Any company that gets its customers to tattoo ads on their chests can’t be all bad.”

23. “If I were starting out in the auto insurance business, I’d try to copy GEICO. It wouldn’t work, but it’d give me the best chance.”

24. “If you set fudge down in front of me, I’ll eat it.”

25. On using lists: “I never make lists. I can’t recall ever making a list in my life … maybe I’ll start.”

26. “Breaking [Berkshire] up would lead to a poor result both now and in the future.”

27. On challenges to the U.S.: “Our system works, but if you ask me the No. 1 problem, it’s that health care cost.”

28. On advice he’d give to himself 50 years ago: “Find what turns you on.” (He’s referring to work. Get your mind out of the gutter!)

29. “Berkshire is an unusually rational place.”

30. “We actually contracted the business by National Indemnity by around 80% when the business became less attractive. I’m not sure that any company under the pressure of quarterly earnings could have done something similar.”

31. “If we do something stupid, it’s because we do something stupid … no external factors are pressing on us, and it’s a great way to operate.”

32. “We’re not going to take 98 cents for something that’s going to give us a probabilistic loss of a dollar.”

33. “The Canadian banking system is very strong, but compared to Europe, and compared to our banks of 20 years ago, [U.S. banks are currently] very strong.”

34. “We will have another bubble, but usually you don’t get it the same way you got it before.”

35. “There some parts of the game that we don’t understand, so we don’t play with them.”

36. “We’re not looking at the aspects of the stock; we’re looking at the aspects of the business.”

37. “We always look at them as businesses, whether we’re buying the whole thing or 100 shares.”

38. On how he picks stocks: “It’s not because I calculate some precise P/E ratio or book value ratio, but because I have an idea of what the company will look like in five years, and that there’s a discrepancy between price and value.”

39. “I don’t know how I’d build my portfolio if I were just doing it by the numbers.” (To which Charlie Munger responded, “You’d do it poorly.” Zing!)

40. On economic forecasts: “Why spend time talking about something you don’t know anything about? People do it all the time, but why do it?”

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