Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders is exactly what it sounds like – a book compiled of all the shareholder letters Warren Buffet has written, since he took the helm at Berkshire Hathaway (then a small textile company) in 1965.
What’s so special about that?
These Berkshire Hathaway letters present an impressive and insightful case study on investing success. Buffett shares the logic, reason and analysis behind all of his major capital allocation decisions.
But I know what you’re thinking…
“Aren’t the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letters Available Free Online?”
And you would be correct. Sort of. You see only the letters from 1977 and onward are available at berkshirehathaway.com. The Berkshire website even has a link to the Shareholder book so you can get the annual letters in their entirety.
And more importantly:
Getting the book version really allows you to study the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Letters. Having the letters in front of you in print is much better than skimming them in PDF format on a screen. Plus, it really does make sense to start at the beginning and get the whole narrative.
So now that you have an idea why this book is different from the free Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Letters available online, let’s get into the details. Although this book covers a lot of material, I just finished reading it so I hope to give you an accurate and thorough summary of what the shareholder letters are really about…
Why The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders Are a MUST Read:
To put it simply, The Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders allow you to follow along with Warren Buffet from day 1. And you get a front row seat to his capitalistic empire building. The first annual letters are short and quick. You can really move through the first couple of years quickly and get a great grasp on why Buffett bought Berkshire.
But then before you know it, the annual letters to shareholders are expanding in length. You quickly find that Warren has started to acquire large positions in publicly traded securities (stocks, bonds and even some derivatives). The letters grow longer and more complex as the scope of Berkshire Hathaway gradually expands from a small textile mill to a $280 Billion conglomerate owning everything from private jet companies to car insurance (did you know Warren Buffet owns Geico?)
The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders are incredibly educational and insightful. While I have already done a few book reviews on Warren Buffet’s biography, these letters are much more focused on his capital allocation skills. It’s applicable stuff and you get to see exactly what Warren Buffet looks like in his investments.
And getting a 700 page lesson from the most successful investor in the world is a pretty good value proposition for anyone who is thinking about money management, or even just securities and business analysis. But that’s not even the best part.
My Favorite Thing About The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders
The best part of The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders is that you get unfettered access to the thoughts of Warren Buffet. These shareholders letters are so educational, in part, because they are not obfuscated or “spun” by a journalist or interviewer. Instead…
This is just Warren Buffet talking directly to you about the thing he loves most. And to be honest, Buffett is actually a great writer. His shareholder letters are not only educational and instructive – but kind of funny! Seriously.
Buffett peppers his letters with all kinds of colloquialisms and quotes. He uses baseball analogies and simple thought experiments to help you grasp complex accounting and capital allocation decisions. I was actually very surprised at what a good writer Buffett is, and how accessible his shareholder letters are – in that they don’t assume any prior knowledge.
When you’re discussing a conglomerate the size of Berkshire, that’s no small feat! I actually really enjoyed reading each other, which further helped with the knowledge retention.
But let me just warn you:
The Only Downside To The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders:
The Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders are incredibly educational. And that’s in large part because they cover 45 years of operations of one of the most successful companies in corporate America. But…
The downside is that it takes about 700 pages to summarize and analyze all of Berkshires behavior throughout that time frame. And these are not small pages. The book is printed in full 8.5×11″ paper. So each page is about the size of two regular paperback pages.
Now I’m a very fast reader. But getting through The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders took me about a month. I was able to read the first 10-15 years very quickly. But then the reports started getting longer and I was only able to read 1-2 a day. So…
Even though The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders are the most instructive investment material I’ve seen in a long time, I just want to warn you that the book is a little long. And if you’re only curious about Warren Buffet the shareholder letters are probably not for you.
On the other hand, if you’re interested and committed these letters can really provide an eye opening experience. So…
The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders – The Final Word
Whether or not you buy The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to Shareholders, you can always access the most recent ones on BerkshireHathaway.com But this book is the only way you can get the complete Berkshire story, from start to presence. And it’s truly a story like no other.
If you’re a professional in the finance and investing industry, or if you’re just really interested in Warren Buffet and capital allocation, then I suggest that you buy this book for 26% off on Amazon (as it’s unlikely your local book store will carry it). You won’t regret it. And it’s a reference tool you can always come back to.
Book Details and Video Book Review:
Author: Warren Buffett
Publisher: Max Olson