Follow the Sage - a decade on

We were reminded this week about the strength and durability of the Berkshire Hathaway story. Here is a February 2008 Trustnet article that we wrote on the company and Warren Buffet’s approach to investing and business, entitled Follow the Sage.

“We live in challenging times, and at times such as these it pays the medium to long term investor to take a step back from the market melee, and try to discern where the next opportunities may lie. History teaches us that there are invariably multiple new investment themes and trends which emerge from a fundamental period of dislocation and doubt such as the one we are living through presently. Negative news abounds from the banks, the housing market, the service sector, on the jobs front, and on corporate earnings growth. Last week-end the IMF revised downwards its forecast for worldwide growth for 2008, but you got the distinct feeling that they are as much searching for straws as they are doing hard & confident analysis of the current and future state of the world’s major economies. No one knows if the US will avoid recession, and least of all, I would suggest, the IMF. Equally, no one knows whether the much-discussed decoupling theory – that the world can grow even when the US is in recession – has much or any validity…
For investors who don’t get paid for intricate macroeconomic analysis or sitting on their hands well beyond the point of maximum opportunity, this is a classic time to be seeking out solid investment opportunities. Witness Warren Buffett, who invariably only really gets busy in such times. If it’s time for him to go to work, surely it might pay us to turn away from the endless gloom watch, and return to old-fashioned tyre-kicking. It’s an irony that when the big picture noise is at its loudest and most pessimistic, it is usually the time to return to bottom-up analysis of company fundamentals. The companies that are thriving in this environment, and whose share prices are giving tell-tale signs that they are more than holding their own, despite the downturn, these are the names to be adding to your wish list. Then add patience and the passage of time, and you have the ingredients of a future investment strategy, looking beyond the current gloom and despair. Follow the Sage