Seeking wisdom – On a pilgrimage to Omaha


On May 5th at 5 am a rented red Nissan Rogue SUV pulled out of 4702 South 14th Street, a moon-lit, quiet, tree-lined street in Omaha, State of Nebraska. The occupants of the vehicle, 2 middle-aged Europeans, had flown into the Windy City a couple of days earlier, on a regular flight from Zurich. On May 4th, they had set off in the early hours from “Sweet Home Chicago” and raced along Interstate 80, in order to reach Nebraska’s largest city.

At 5.28 in the morning, when their car pulled into the Convention Center, the mid-western sunrise was playing late riser, but even so the parking at the Center was already filling up. The gates to wisdom would not open for another couple of hours and the “show” was not going to start until 8.30 am. What were our 2 motorized pilgrims supposed to do in the meantime?  They grabbed a tall Styrofoam cup of black magic to wash down the giant blueberry muffin bought at the Seven/Eleven store and joined the growing queue of thousands & thousands of early risers, all keen to get a seat in the 17000-seat Convention Arena in order to participate in the “big bash”. It was not a given that they’d find their way in.

As luck would have it their queue neighbors were locals – “street-smart Theresia” & hubby Mike were kind enough to secure us all good seats for another round of coffee & muffins!

Cut, Cut!

Hold on a minute, what is going on? Who are these guys looking for? A famous Omahan for sure, but who? An actor – Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda or his son, Peter, Nick Nolte? A political figure – Malcom X, or maybe the Memorial of Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States? Nope. None of the above!

The “guys” were: Denis P., my friend and yours truly, Fund manager of the Fund and fellow Investor. And why were there? To seek wisdom from two famous Omahans, 87-year old Warren Buffett and 94-year old Charlie Munger.  May 5th was the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Annual Meeting – see webcast:

I’ll let you soak up the wisdom of The Chairman and his Vice, as they share their unscripted views on the company, the markets, the economy, and, and, and.  By the way, you’ll see that “street-smart Theresia” asked Warren a question about not investing in the company of his pal, Bill, the “guy from the Foundation”.

And if you think you’ve heard it all before and see no reason to watch it again, then think again:

In 1965, I was 10 years old and, unlike Warren, I was not an equity investor, nor were my mum & dad. If I had sold the bike I got from them at Christmas and invested the proceeds (the equivalent of around $100) in an S&P 500 ETF, I would be $15’500 rich today, enough to buy a Fiat 500 (or 2/3 of a Nissan Rogue!)

BUT if I’d invested the bike equivalent in Berkshire Hathaway shares, I’d be able to afford a second-hand, 6+1 seats, Cessna Citation CJ2:

Mum, Pop, what were you thinking, what were you doing?