Warren Buffett On Never Selling Coca-Cola Stock

When Coca-Cola initially went public in 1920, it quickly found itself in the position of being a $30 million compared that was generating $9 million in annual profits. The P/E ratio was somewhere around 3. Buying a young Coca-Cola after the IPO was one of the best investments that you could have made in history, with a round lot of 100 shares growing into almost $2 billion at the end of 2012.

The profits generated by the company have doubled thirty-eight times since the IPO, plus you got a dividend that has been raised every year since 1963 alongside stock buybacks in recent years that would amplify the total wealth created by this stock even further. The company has grown stronger, with a distributing network so vast that Dr. Pepper realized it would be cheaper to just let Coca-Cola transport its drinks in certain areas rather than try to distribute its own drinks everywhere. There are now over 500 nonalcoholic brands—water, tea, milk, sports drinks, soda, you name it, and Coca-Cola has a brand for it. The profit margins are obscene—usually hovering around the 30% mark (thought the actual reported figure has been around 27.5% post-2012 because it now owns some of its bottling operations which are more capital intensive, and this is reflected in the overall numbers).

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Lessons From Warren Buffett’s Management Style

Although he didn’t mention it in this letter, Warren Buffett has repeatedly mentioned that he likes to keep a minimum of $20 billion in cash on hand to be placed in Berkshire’s coffers. The reason why he does this is because he wants Berkshire to be protected in the event of an extraordinarily rare catastrophe loss. Berkshire is susceptible to deep earthquakes in California, hurricanes in the southeast, and those extremely rare earthquakes in the Midwest. For instance, Berkshire provides much insurance coverage along the New Madrid Fault, which last went off in February 1812 and destroyed St. Louis in under thirty seconds. It was so deep that the writings of the time suggested that the Mississippi River flowed backwards.

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Charlie Munger Explains Berkshire Hathaway’s Long-Term Success

Out of all the possible topics in the world that Munger could have chosen to begin his letter to investors of Berkshire Hathaway, Munger began talking about the management system and policies that allowed Berkshire Hathaway to be so successful after giving a brief outline of what was to come. Although Munger didn’t explicitly say this, there is a reason why processes and systems are so important: they provide a template that systematically converts your labor into passive (or generally passive) sources of income.

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