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Essays Of Warren Buffet

The Essays of Warren Buffet

Lessons for Investors and Managers

Selected, Arranged and Introduced by

Lawrence A. Cunningham

John Wiley & Sons, 264 pages

Rating: 8

This is as near as you will get to a book “by” Warren Buffet, and for this reason more than any other, it is the best of the Buffet book bunch. Buffett has not actually written or published any book on investment, and all the other books are based upon insights gathered from his corporate essays/letters reported in the Berkshire Hathaway (BH) annual report (see below) or from discussing investment with him and learning from his ways. What makes this book so good, is that there is very little comment or interpretation – this is pure Buffett which has been “selected and arranged” from his many essays. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that, even with his genuine modesty, Buffet says that “If I were to pick one (Buffett) book to read, this would be the one”.

Cunningham is Director of the Centre of Corporate Governance and Professor of Law at the Cardoza Law School, New York City; another example of how much closer law and finance co-exist as disciplines in the US. The origin of the book (I read the revised 2002 edn) is a symposium held at Cardoza featuring this compendium of Buffett’s letters – which was attended by Buffett and his “partner” and BH Vice Chairman, Charlie Munger – another lawyer!

If you have read no other work on Buffett, you can safely start with this work and get right into it, beginning with the foundations of investment through the principles laid out by Ben Graham and David Dodd, who themselves taught Buffett. Don’t be concerned that some essays are a little old hat, in that some text goes back to the late seventies (all yearly references in the footnotes). Reason: Buffet pulls apart and denounces many of the modern theories of finance/investment and illustrates why the basic principles espoused by Graham and Dodd are superior to modern financial theory. Examples: compensation through stock options (Buffett is winning the public debate on this); the dubious benefits of synergistic acquisitions; the exaggerated benefits to be derived from cashflow analysis; and the gaping holes in modern accounting – although on the latter, Buffett acknowledges that there are often no simple solutions to complex issues. Cunningham has divided the book into the primary subject areas covered by the essays, eg: corporate governance; corporate finance and investing; alternatives to common stock; M & A; accounting and valuation; accounting policy and tax matters. The reader should not be daunted by these seemingly weighty and technically laden areas, for the reason that Buffett’s writings have always been for the ordinary investor to understand. Thus, the approach is simple and replete with common sense arguments built over a lifetime of

Essays Of Warren Buffet

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