Warren Edward Buffett was born to Howard and Leila Buffett on August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the second of three children, and the only boy. Making money was an early interest for Buffett, who sold soft drinks and had a paper route. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and transferred to the University of Nebraska. Buffett studied under Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, and his time at Columbia, set the stage for a storied career. Upon graduation, Graham refused to hire Buffet and he returned to Omaha to work at his father’s brokerage firm. He married Susan Thompson, and they started a family.
A short while later, Graham had a change of heart and offered Buffett a job in New York. Once in New York, Buffett had the chance to build upon the investing theories he had learned from Graham at Columbia. Value investing, according to Graham, involved seeking stocks that were selling at an extraordinary discount to the value of the underlying assets, which he called the “intrinsic value”. Buffett internalized the concept, but had an interest in taking it a step further. Unlike Graham, he wanted to look beyond the numbers and focus on the company’s management team and its product’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.
In 1956 he launched Buffett Associates, Ltd. Buffett’s investment philosophy become one based on the principle of acquiring stock in what he believes are well-managed, undervalued companies. When he makes a purchase, his intention is to hold the securities indefinitely. Coca Cola, American Express and the Gillette Company all met his criteria and have remained Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio for many years. In many cases, he purchased the companies outright, continuing to let their management teams handle the day-to-day business. Despite a net worth measured in billions, Warren Buffett is legendarily frugal.
He still lives in the five-bedroom house he bought in 1958 for $31,000, drinks Coca Cola and dines at local restaurants, where a burger or a steak are his preferred table fare. For years, he avoided the ideas of purchasing a corporate jet. When he finally acquired one, he named it the “Indefensible” – public recognition of his criticism about money spent on jets. He remained married to Susan Thompson for more than 50 years after their 1952 wedding. They had three children, Susie, Howard and Peter. Buffett has always planned to give the bulk of his wealth to charity, but insisted that it would occur after death.
Warren Edward Buffett, legendary value investor, turned an ailing textile mill into a financial engine that powered what would become the world’s most successful holding company. Known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his investment prowess, Buffett has accumulated a personal fortune of $62 billion, making him top dog on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list in 2008. He inspires legions of loyal fans to make a yearly trek to Omaha for an opportunity to hear him speak at Berkshire’s annual meeting, an event ironically dubbed the “Woodstock of Capitalism”. The future looks to hold an increase in the amount of money that Buffett will continue to give.