Warren Buffett is the world’s greatest living investor. No contest. But who is the “sage of Omaha”? And how does he actually operate?
Until recently there have been a string of books that offered limited insights about the man behind the Berkshire Hathaway group, but never really captured the whole story because Buffett always refused to co-operate.
Now all that has changed with the publication of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life, a comprehensive new official biography written by Alice Schroeder with the subject’s full co-operation.
The book is an imposing 850 pages of text, with a further 150 pages of references. However, I found it easy to read, combining stories of Buffett’s life experience and investing philosophy.
Many readers may be familiar with the basic aspects of Buffettology; the search for value in listed stocks, the resistance to market “noise”, the perspective of regarding stocks not as tradeable slices of equity but “parts of companies”, the long-term view.
As the book begins to widen our understanding of Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway is again in the news; not everyone believes Buffett’s latest moves in taking positions at Goldman Sachs and General Electric will be successful.
To my mind, the official biography adds significantly to our understanding of this singular investor, and in doing so it adds to our ability to copy his best ideas. In the end, I believe there are five key factors emerging in the burgeoning discipline that’s becoming known as Buffettology.
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