Chances are you know who Warren Buffett is.
If not, the very short version is that Buffett is widely considered to be the world’s most successful value investor.
The longer version is this: Warren Edward Buffett, who turns 90-years-old this year, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and has been dubbed the “Oracle of Omaha.” He grew up in Omaha and Washington, D.C. before attaining his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska and Columbia University. Buffett became interested in investing at an early age and attended Columbia in part because a pair of well-known securities analysts taught there.
Buffett then went to work for Buffett-Falk, his father’s brokerage company, before joining Graham-Newman for three years. Buffett then ventured out on his own and formed several investment partnerships, which purchased a company called Berkshire Hathaway, a textile manufacturing firm. In 1962, Buffett liquidated his partnerships to focus on Berkshire, and the rest is history.
Warren Buffett made one successful investment after another using Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) as his conduit. Buffett became adamant that his stocks provide a wide margin of safety. The intrinsic value of a company must out-weigh the company’s stock price. He learned that strategy from one of his stock market-savvy Columbia professors, Benjamin Graham.
You might not be quite as familiar with the name Benjamin Graham, so let me familiarize you.
Benjamin Graham was born in London in 1894. (His original name was Grossbaum, but he changed it as a young man, the better to fit into the Wall Street environment of the day.)
His parents moved to New York City when he was a year old. Graham was a brilliant student and won a scholarship to Columbia University. In 1914, he graduated second in his class, at age 20, and was invited to teach at the school. But he refused. His father had died, the family was poor, and Graham needed a larger income to support the family.
So, he went to Wall Street and worked for the firm of Newburger, Henderson and Loeb for $12 per week.
His early duties included being a runner, delivering securities and checks, writing descriptions of bond issues, and later writing the firm’s daily market letter. Before long, he began to analyze companies, and at the age of 26 he was promoted to full partner.
In 1923, he left to set up his own partnership, and in 1928 he began teaching investment classes at Columbia. Over time, working with former student David Dodd, the lessons of his classes were gathered into his first book, titled Security Analysis, which was published in 1934. The book has sold over a million copies. Warren Buffett says he’s read it at least four times.
Or, you could simply read Graham’s second book, the more user-friendly The Intelligent Investor, which was published in 1949 and is less than half the size of Graham’s first book.
Graham developed value investing principles that he passed on to Buffett, and then Warren Buffett took value investing to a whole new level.
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