Warren Buffett’s annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are a gold mine of business and life insights.
And so when recently scanning Buffett’s 2005 letter to shareholders, we came across a funny — but, in its way, dirty — quip from Buffett about the fate he hoped Berkshire Hathaway would avoid.
As a businessman, what Buffett wanted to avoid was running a company that could only grow its investments or grow its earnings.
To that point, Berkshire’s investments had grown at a compound annual rate of 28% from 1965 to 2005; earnings, meanwhile, had grown by 17.2% over that period.
Buffett writes that this disparity reflected Berkshire’s, “ever-increasing emphasis on business acquisitions.”
But Buffett, again, emphasised that the company still aimed to grow both, writing:
In this ambition, we hope — metaphorically — to avoid the fake of the elderly couple who had been romantically challenged for some time. As they finished dinner on their 50th anniversary, however, the wife — stimulated by soft music, wine and candlelight — felt a long-absent tickle and demurely suggested to her husband that they go upstairs and make love. He agonized for a moment and then replied, “I can do one or the other, but not both.”
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