I get e-mails from people all the time looking for good reading material. Most of you have already red the basics like The Intelligent Investor, One Up On Wall Street, or all of Warren Buffett’s letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Beyond that, most recommendations hinge upon the specifics of the person asking. Some people think they want investment advice, but really what they need is a good estate planning book. Others need to read Dividends Don’t Lie to understand why some industries with high dividend payout ratios can have safer dividends than those with lower payout ratios. Other people are too focused on numbers and probably need to find something like The Speed of Trust.
Tonight, I stumbled upon a goldmine that is likely to provide some value to anyone reading it. I found a PDF that links to all of Charlie Munger’s letters to Wesco shareholders between 1983 and 2009. I highly encourage you to give it a look. A fair warning—it is a bit like eating lobster. You have to work through some outdated Wesco-specific analysis to get to gems like Munger quoting Judge Cardozo’s punctilio of the honor most sensitive to describe the relationship between Berkshire and partially owned subsidiaries. The 1998 letter contains the observations that the human capital at Wesco is not nearly as great as you can find at Berkshire. Could you imagine a Chairman of any company writing that about his employees today? You will find the reading very enjoyable if you like encountering the stripped-down thoughts of an intelligent businessman not bound by political or institutional considerations.