Warren Buffett is famous for his wit, and will likely go down in history as one of the most quotable and influential investors of all time.
With this week marking his 89th birthday, we thought it was a good time to highlight the 25 best Warren Buffett quotes accumulated through his lengthy and prestigious career.
The Warren Buffett Series
Part 5: Wisdom from the Oracle
Today’s infographic highlights the smartest and most insightful quotes from Buffett on investing, business, and life.
It’s the fifth and final 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 find the right credit card or become the next big value investor.
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After sifting through hundreds of quotes from the Oracle of Omaha, we’ve chosen the best 25 of them and sorted them into a few select categories:
Keeping it Simple
Buffett is known for putting his money in “no-brainer” businesses (i.e. Coca-Cola) that are simple to run, with long-term competitive advantages.
|Buffett Quotes on Keeping It Simple|
|#1||“Never invest in a business you cannot understand.”|
|#2||“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”|
|#3||“I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”|
|#4||“A ham sandwich could run Coca-Cola."|
|#5||“Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”|
|#6||"You don't need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ."|
|#7||“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1”|
For Buffett, how someone responds to different situations is far more important than their actual skills or knowledge level. Investors must not care what the crowd thinks, and they must be patient, focused, and decisive to maximize their potential.
|Buffett Quotes on Temperament|
|#8||"The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect. You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd."|
|#9||“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.”|
|#10||“Our favorite holding period is forever.”|
|#11||“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”|
|#12||“An investor should act as though he had a lifetime decision card with just twenty punches on it.”|
Buffett’s decision-making is driven by an assessment of value. Is the asset he is buying worth way more than it is currently being priced at by the fickle Mr. Market – if so, he’ll lay down his chips.
|Buffett Quotes on Value|
|#13||"Price is what you pay; value is what you get."|
|#14||"Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."|
|#15||“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price, than a fair company at a wonderful price.”|
A Midwestern gentleman, Buffett follows a simple and friendly style of business conduct, with deals often bounded by one’s promise or a simple handshake.
|Buffett Quotes on Conduct|
|#16||"You can't make a good deal with a bad person."|
|#17||"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."|
At 89 years old, Buffett knows a thing or two about business and life. As a result, he’s developed some unique perspectives.
|Buffett Quotes on Perspective|
|#18||“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”|
|#19||“If past history was all that is needed to play the game of money, the richest people would be librarians.”|
|#20||“Failing conventionally is the route to go; as a group, lemmings may have a rotten image, but no individual lemming has ever received bad press”|
|#21||"In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal."|
Life and Success
How did he build such a successful career, and how does one man generate so much wisdom?
|Buffett Quotes on Life and Success|
|#22||“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”|
|#23||“If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”|
|#24||"I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life."|
|#25||"My life couldn't be happier. In fact, it'd be worse if I had six or eight houses. So, I have everything I need to have, and I don't need any more."|
With $89.5 billion to his name, Warren Buffett is not only known for his self-made wealth and investing acumen, but also his wit and quotability. We hope this selection of the best Warren Buffett quotes helps you think about life and investing differently, and that the legendary investor continues to share his wisdom with the world.
Want more Buffett?
Don’t forget to check out the other parts of our Buffett infographic series:
- Part 1: The Remarkable Early Years of Warren Buffett
- Part 2: Inside Warren Buffett’s Brain
- Part 3: The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart
- Part 4: Warren Buffett’s Wins & Fails
Intangible Assets: A Hidden but Crucial Driver of Company Value
Intangible assets – such as goodwill and intellectual property – have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.
Intangible Assets Take Center Stage
View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here
In 2018, intangible assets for S&P 500 companies hit a record value of $21 trillion. These assets, which are not physical in nature and include things like intellectual property, have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.
Today’s infographic from Raconteur highlights the growth of intangible asset valuations, and how senior decision-makers view intangibles when making investment decisions.
Tracking the Growth of Intangibles
Intangibles used to play a much smaller role than they do now, with physical assets comprising the majority of value for most enterprise companies. However, an increasingly competitive and digital economy has placed the focus on things like intellectual property, as companies race to out-innovate one another.
To measure this historical shift, Aon and the Ponemon Institute analyzed the value of intangible and tangible assets over nearly four and a half decades on the S&P 500. Here’s how they stack up:
In just 43 years, intangibles have evolved from a supporting asset into a major consideration for investors – today, they make up 84% of all enterprise value on the S&P 500, a massive increase from just 17% in 1975.
The Largest Companies by Intangible Value
Digital-centric sectors, such as internet & software and technology & IT, are heavily reliant on intangible assets.
Brand Finance, which produces an annual ranking of companies based on intangible value, has companies in these sectors taking the top five spots on the 2019 edition of their report.
|Rank||Company||Sector||Total Intangible Value||Share of Enterprise Value|
|1||Microsoft||Internet & Software||$904B||90%|
|2||Amazon||Internet & Software||$839B||93%|
|3||Apple||Technology & IT||$675B||77%|
|4||Alphabet||Internet & Software||$521B||65%|
|5||Internet & Software||$409B||79%|
|7||Tencent||Internet & Software||$365B||88%|
|8||Johnson & Johnson||Pharma||$361B||101%|
|10||Alibaba||Internet & Software||$344B||86%|
|12||Procter & Gamble||Cosmetics & Personal Care||$305B||101%|
Note: Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding.
Microsoft overtook Amazon for the top spot in the ranking for 2019, with $904B in intangible assets. The company has the largest commercial cloud business in the world.
Pharma and healthcare companies are also prominent on the list, comprising four of the top 20. Their intangible value is largely driven by patents, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Johnson & Johnson, for example, reported $32B in patents and trademarks in their latest annual report.
A Lack of Disclosure
It’s important to note that Brand Finance’s ranking is based on both disclosed intangibles—those that are reported on a company’s balance sheet—and undisclosed intangibles. In the ranking, undisclosed intangibles were calculated as the difference between a company’s market value and book value.
The majority of intangibles are not reported on balance sheets because accounting standards do not recognize them until a transaction has occurred to support their value. While many accounting managers see this as a prudent measure to stop unsubstantiated asset values, it means that many highly valuable intangibles never appear in financial reporting. In fact, 34% of the total worth of the world’s publicly traded companies is made up of undisclosed value.
“It is time for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs to start a long overdue reporting revolution.”
—David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance
Brand Finance believes that companies should regularly value each intangible asset, including the key assumptions management made when deriving their value. This information would be extremely useful for managers, investors, and other stakeholders.
A Key Consideration
Investment professionals certainly agree on the importance of intangibles. In a survey of institutional investors by Columbia Threadneedle, it was found that 95% agreed that intangible assets contain crucial information about the future strength of a company’s business model.
Moreover, 98% agree that more transparency would be beneficial to their assessment of intangible assets. In the absence of robust reporting, Columbia Threadneedle believes active managers are well equipped to understand intangible asset values due to their access to management, relationships with key opinion leaders, and deep industry expertise.
By undertaking rigorous analysis, managers may uncover hidden competitive advantages—and generate higher potential returns in the process.
Top Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)
This animation looks at the top countries in the world by GDP, while also showing the components that comprised economic activity at the time.
Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)
While looking at the top countries by GDP is a useful big picture measure, it can also be informative to look at the components that make up an economy as well.
Examining a country’s economic building blocks can tell us a lot about what stage of development the country is in, and where competitive advantages may exist.
Analyzing GDP by Sector
Today’s “horse race” bar chart, by Number Story, is an entertaining historical look at the ranking of top countries by GDP, including the parts that make up the whole.
Here is the latest data as of 2018, as well as the largest sector according to data from the United Nations’ industry classification database:
|Rank||Country||GDP (2018)||Top Sector (% of total)||2nd Largest Sector (% of total)|
|1||🇺🇸 United States||$20.6T||Other (55%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (15%)|
|2||🇨🇳 China||$13.6T||Other (36%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (33%)|
|3||🇯🇵 Japan||$4.9T||Other (43%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (23%)|
|4||🇩🇪 Germany||$3.6T||Other (48%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (25%)|
|5||🇬🇧 UK||$2.5T||Other (55%)||Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (14%)|
|6||🇮🇳 India||$2.5T||Other (36%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (22%)|
|7||🇫🇷 France||$2.5T||Other (56%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (13%)|
|8||🇮🇹 Italy||$1.9T||Other (49%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (20%)|
|9||🇧🇷 Brazil||$1.6T||Other (50%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (16%)|
|10||🇨🇦 Canada||$1.6T||Other (52%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (18%)|
|11||🇰🇷 South Korea||$1.6T||Other (42%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (31%)|
|12||🇷🇺 Russia||$1.5T||Other (36%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (28%)|
|13||🇦🇺 Australia||$1.4T||Other (53%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (17%)|
|14||🇪🇸 Spain||$1.3T||Other (47%)||Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (19%)|
|15||🇲🇽 Mexico||$1.2T||Other (34%)||Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (24%)|
Why are “Other Activities” so dominant in this breakdown?
It’s because of the way GDP that components are classified as data in the UN industry classification system, which is laid out below:
- Agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing (ISIC A-B)
- Mining, manufacturing, utilities (ISIC C-E)
- Construction (ISIC F)
- Wholesale, retail trade, restaurants and hotels (ISIC G-H)
- Transport, storage and communication (ISIC I)
- Other activities, such as finance, healthcare, real estate, and tech (ISIC J-P)
Although agriculture, construction, or manufacturing have been a bedrock for economies in the past, developed countries skew towards adding economic value in different ways today.
Given that finance, government spending (healthcare, education, defense, etc.) and technology — all important modern industries — are included in “Other”, this makes the possibly outdated classification the biggest (and least useful) category to examine here.
Nevertheless, there is still information we can glean from this animated breakdown of GDP, spanning a period of almost 50 years.
A More Granular Look at GDP
However, the animated bar chart shows something more granular that is compelling in its own right. By observing the evolution of countries’ economic components over time, some interesting observations emerge that would normally be lost in the big picture.
Japan’s Manufacturing Boom
At points during Japan’s heyday of growth during the 1980’s, manufacturing comprised nearly 30% of economic activity. By the mid-90s, this single segment of Japan’s economy was so valuable that, on its own, it would’ve placed fifth in the global ranking.
America Leading the Pack
While other countries switch positions, reordering as economies boom and bust, the U.S. has handily remained in top position.
Japan was the country that narrowed the gap between the first and second spot the most, though the country’s Lost Decade in the 1990s cut that ascension short.
During the years between 1970 and 2017, the United States was at its most dominant in 2006 when its GDP was triple the size of Japan’s. Of course, in recent years China has narrowed the gap considerably.
A Star Rising in the East
As one would expect, the building blocks of China’s economy looked very different in the 1970s than today.
The communist systems of the USSR and China are both easy to spot in the visualization. Agriculture played an outsized role, and industries like finance, real estate, and retail were understated compared to the profiles of countries that operated under a capitalist system.
In 1980, as the first Special Economic Zones were being created, three-quarters of China’s economy was based on agriculture, resource extraction, and manufacturing. Even as recently as the early ’90s, China wasn’t in the top 10 despite being the world’s most populous country.
Of course, that situation changed drastically over the next two decades. By the dawn of the 21st century, China ranked fifth in the world, and a decade later, China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy globally.
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