Warren Buffett: Inflation

“Inflation destroys value, but it destroys it very unequally. The best business to have during inflation is one that retains its earning power in real dollars without commensurate investment to, in effect, fund the inflation-produced nominal growth. The worst kind of business is where you have to keep putting more and more money into a lousy business. In effect, the airlines have been hurt by inflation over the last 40 years, because now they have to put a whole lot of money in a lousy investment, which is a plane, compared to 30 or 40 years ago. And they have to stay in the game. They have to keep buying new planes. And the new planes cost far more now, and the returns continue to be inadequate. So the best protection is a very good business that does not require big capital investment… Inflation is always a factor in calculating the kind of investment, the kind of business, that we want to buy. But it isn’t like it crowds out all other factors. I mean, it’s always been with us. We’ll think about it always.” —Warren Buffett.

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Warren Buffett: Lot of bad things

“Businesses do not meet expectations quarter after quarter and year after year. It just isn’t in the nature of running businesses. And, in our view, people that predict precisely what the future will be are either kidding investors, or they’re kidding themselves, or they’re kidding both. Charlie and I have been around the culture, sometimes on the board, where the ego of the CEO became very involved in meeting predictions which were impossible, really, over time. And everybody in the organization knew, because they were very public about it, what these predictions were and they knew that their CEO was going to look bad if they weren’t met. And that can lead to a lot of bad things.” —Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett: Bigger-fool game

“Once you talk about something that’s an asset appreciation investment, ignoring the underlying economics of what you’re lending on, you’re really talking about the bigger-fool game. You’re saying…this is a silly price but there’ll be a bigger fool that comes along. And that actually can be a profitable game for a while. But it’s nothing that bankers should engage in.” –Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett: Agony

“We like buying businesses where we feel that there’s some untapped pricing power…. One of the questions we asked ourselves [when we bought See’s], and we thought the answer was obvious, was: if we raised the price 10 cents a pound, would sales fall off a cliff? And of course, the answer, in our view at least, was that no, there was some untapped pricing power in the product. And it’s not a great business when you have to have a prayer session before you raise your prices a penny. You are in a tough business then. And I would say you can almost measure the strength of a business over time by the agony they go through in determining whether a price increase can be sustained.” –Warren Buffett.