With another installment of Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) shareholders hitting the Internet recently, plenty of stories have been published highlighting the most quotable passages from the letter. News articles abounded with the best examples of Buffett’s traditional wisdom and wit (Here’s a good example). But now, let’s take a look at six other quotes from the letter that didn’t make anybody else’s “best of” list.
Thanks Gecko! You too, Tony.
“The credit for GEICO’s extraordinary performance goes to Tony Nicely and his 27,000 associates. And to that cast, we should add our Gecko. Neither rain nor storm nor gloom of night can stop him; the little lizard just soldiers on, telling Americans how they can save big money by going to GEICO.com.”
On page 4, Warren Buffett gives a 14-word shout-out to GEICO boss Tony Nicely and his employees for their hard work, and then a 38-word paean to the GEICO Gecko. Granted, the Gecko really is the face of the company. I wouldn’t know Tony Nicely if I ran into him on the street and he was wearing a name tag that said “Hello, My Name Is Tony Nicely.” Meanwhile, even my kids would instantly recognize and jump up and down pointing out a minimum wage-earning teenager wearing a Gecko costume at a minor league baseball game. So, credit where credit is due.
As a GEICO customer, I’m always disappointed when I call customer service and the representative on the phone doesn’t have a charming British accent like the Gecko. Giving accent training classes to the people who answer the phones could be one more way that the number one reptilian employee helps to solidify GEICO’s brand image.
Take that, State Farm!
“For example, State Farm, by far the country’s largest insurer and a well-managed company besides, incurred an underwriting loss in eight of the eleven years ending in 2011. (Their financials for 2012 are not yet available.)”
On page 7, Buffett takes a break from a detailed “inside baseball” discussion of how insurance companies work to trash-talk rival insurer State Farm’s record on underwriting losses. I believe this is the only specific mention of a competitor by name in the letter. Congratulations, State Farm!