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Inside Warren Buffett’s Brain

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What springs to mind when you think of legendary investor Warren Buffett?

For some, it’s his humble Omaha origins or his long-lasting obsession with Coca-Cola. For other people, it’s Buffett’s impeccable investing track record and extraordinary wealth that make a lasting impression.

While these are all legitimate connections to make with the Buffett name, perhaps he is most synonymous with the discipline of value investing – the style and mindset Buffett has made famous over the decades.

The Warren Buffett Series
Part 2: Inside Buffett’s Brain

Today’s infographic provides a deep dive into Warren Buffett’s brain, and it explains everything about his investing philosophy, along with the framework he uses to evaluate potential opportunities.

It’s the second part of the Warren Buffett Series, which we’ve done in partnership with finder.com, a personal finance site that helps people make better decisions – whether they want to jump on the cryptocurrency craze or follow Buffett’s more traditional path to financial success.

The Warren Buffet Series: The Early YearsInside Warren Buffett's BrainPart 3Warren Buffett's Biggest Wins and FailsComing soon

Inside Warren Buffett's Brain
Note: Stay tuned for future parts with our free mailing list.

Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy is well-known.

He famously focuses on the intrinsic value of companies, and he buys stocks when they are “on sale”. Buffett’s not afraid to accumulate big positions in companies he likes – and his favorite holding period is “forever”.

While this formula may seem simple on paper, it’s extremely nuanced and complex in practice.

How Does Buffett’s Brain Work?

Warren Buffett has said that he borrows 85% of his investing style from Benjamin Graham, and 15% from Phil Fisher.

Benjamin Graham:
The godfather of value investing gave Buffett a framework for finding undervalued assets and companies.

Phil Fisher:
The famous growth investor showed Buffett the importance of investing with good management teams.

According to writer Robert Hagstrom, Buffett applies these ideas by focusing on four key principles of investing:

1. Analyze a stock as a business
Have the priorities of a business owner and look the company from a long-term perspective.
Is it increasing its intrinsic value? Would you want to own the entire company?

2. Ensure a “margin of safety”
Buffett considers “margin of safety” the three most important words in investing.
In other words, does a company have more intrinsic value than book value?

3. Manage a focused portfolio
Concentrate on a few stocks that will provide above-average returns over time. Buffett suggests investors think of this as owning a “punch card” with just 20 investment choices that can be made over a lifetime.

4. Protect yourself from Mr. Market
Mr. Market can be speculative and emotional, and he should not be relied upon as a predictor of future prices.
Instead, take advantage of Mr. Market periodically, whenever there is a fire sale.

Buffett’s Investment Criteria

Here are 12 key factors Warren Buffett considers when looking at potential opportunities:

1. Simplicity
Is the business easy to understand?

2. Operating History
Has the business been around for a long time, with a consistent operating history?

3. Long-Term Prospects
Is there reason to believe that the business will be able to sustain success in the long-term?

4. Rational Decisions
Is management wise when it comes to reinvesting earnings or returning profits to shareholders as dividends?

5. Candidness
Does the management team admit mistakes? Are they honest with shareholders?

6. Resisting the “Institutional Imperative”
Can the company resist temptations created by institutional dynamics, such as imitating peer companies, or resist changes in direction?

7. Profit Margins
Does the company have high profit margins?

8. Return on Equity
What is the return on equity (ROE) of the business?

9. Owners Earnings
What is the company’s ability to generate cash for shareholders, who are the residual owners? This is technically defined as free cash flow to equity (FCFE).

10. One Dollar Premise
For every dollar retained from net income, does the company create at least one dollar of market value?

11. Intrinsic Value
What is the value of the future owners’ earnings, discounted back to the present?

12. Margin of Safety
What’s the chance you’ll lose money on the stock, in the long run, if you buy it at today’s price?

Or to sum all of these ideas up succinctly, here’s a quote from the man himself.

My strategy is to find a good business – and one that I can understand why it’s good – with a durable, competitive advantage, run by able and honest people, and available at a price that makes sense.

– Warren Buffett

Other Notes

Part 3 of the Warren Buffett Series will be released in late February 2018.

Credits: This infographic would not be possible without the great biographies done by Roger Lowenstein (Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist) and Alice Schroeder (The Snowball), as well as numerous other sources cataloging Buffett’s life online.

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Markets

Animation: The Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap Over 23 Years

In business, the only constant is change – and for tech companies, this is even more true. Here are the biggest tech companies over 23 years.

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The business world is certainly not a static one.

In the past, we’ve shown that the market leaders in the most stable industries are unlikely to keep their leadership positions over long periods of time.

But limit your window to just the dynamic world of tech and you’ll see an even more extreme example of this inherent volatility. Sometimes companies are able to separate from the rest of the pack for days or months, but it’s never an advantage that lasts for long.

Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

Today’s animation was originally posted to Reddit by /r/TheNerdistRedditor and captures the crazy world of tech valuations for public companies.

Watch the intense 1 minute animation below:


Note: the data here only lists companies traded on U.S. exchanges, and does not show every single valuation point.

Over just 23 years, the company topping the list flips eight separate times – and if you were to get more granular with the numbers (looking at daily valuations, for example), you’d see it happen far more often.

Today’s Market Cap Leaders

As we noted above, company valuations are constantly changing – and back in early September 2018, both Apple and Amazon even topped the $1 trillion milestone for a short period of time.

Using the same criteria as the above animation, which is based on U.S. listed companies, here are the top 10 tech companies based on data at time of publication:

RankCompanyTicker(s)Market Cap (March 18, 2019)
#1MicrosoftMSFT$902 billion
#2AppleAAPL$887 billion
#3AmazonAMZN$856 billion
#4AlphabetGOOG, GOOGL$824 billion
#5AlibabaBABA$471 billion
#6FacebookFB$458 billion
#7IntelINTC$243 billion
#8CiscoCSCO$236 billion
#9OracleORCL$192 billion
#10NetflixNFLX$159 billion

Based on March 18, 2019 data

This is not a comprehensive list globally, as it misses companies like Tencent which are listed on other exchanges such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Based on recent HKD/USD conversion rates, it’s estimated that Tencent would be roughly worth $450 billion today – good enough for 7th on the list.

Regardless, since change is the only constant in the tech world, it’s fair to say that the above list of the biggest tech companies will likely be much different in just a few months time.

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Chart of the Week

The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game – here are the countries and regions projected to contribute the most to global growth in 2019.

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The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game.

As long as the data adds up to economic expansion on a worldwide level, it’s easy to keep the status quo rolling. Companies can shift resources to the growing segments, and investors can put capital where it can go to work.

At the end of the day, growth cures everything – it’s only when it dries up that things get hairy.

Breaking Down Global Growth in 2019

Today’s chart uses data from Standard Chartered and the IMF to break down where economic growth is happening in 2019 using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Further, it also compares the share of the global GDP pie taken by key countries and regions over time.

Let’s start by looking at where global growth is forecasted to occur in 2019:

Country or RegionShare of Global GDP Growth (PPP) in 2019F
China33%
Other Asia (Excl. China/Japan)29%
United States11%
Middle East & North Africa4%
Euro Area4%
Latin America & Caribbean3%
Other Europe3%
Sub-Saharan Africa2%
Japan1%
United Kingdom1%
Canada1%
Rest of World8%

The data here mimics some of the previous estimates we’ve seen from Standard Chartered, such as this chart which projects the largest economies in 2030.

Asia as a whole will account for 63% of all global GDP growth (PPP) this year, with the lion’s share going to China. Countries like India and Indonesia will contribute to the “Other Asia” share, and Japan will only contribute 1% to the global growth total.

In terms of developed economies, the U.S. will lead the pack (11%) in contributing to global growth. Europe will add 8% between its various sub-regions, and Canada will add 1%.

Share of Global Economy Over Time

Based on the above projections, we were interested in taking a look at how each region or country’s share of global GDP (PPP) has changed over recent decades.

This time, we used IMF projections from its data mapper tool to loosely approximate the regions above, though there are some minor differences in how the data is organized.

Country or RegionShare of GDP (PPP, 1980)Share of GDP (PPP, 2019F)Change
Developing Asia8.9%34.1%+25.2 pp
European Union29.9%16.0%-13.9 pp
United States21.6%15.0%-6.6 pp
Latin America & Caribbean12.2%7.4%-4.8 pp
Middle East & North Africa8.6%6.5%-2.1 pp
Sub-Saharan Africa2.4%3.0%+0.6 pp

In the past 40 years or so, Developing Asia has increased its share of the global economy (in PPP terms) from 8.9% to an estimated 34.1% today. This dominant region includes China, India, and other fast-growing economies.

The European Union and the United States combined for 51.5% of global productivity in 1980, but they now account for 31% of the total economic mix. Similarly, the Latin America and MENA regions are seeing similar decreases in their share of the economic pie.

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