Bill Gates's Amazing -- Yet Terrible -- Call On Kodak

John Hempton is back from his summer holiday on the New South Wales South Coast, where he had the opportunity to read Alice Schroeder’s book on Warren Buffett.

He flags an excellent little anecdote that highlights how damned difficult it can be to pick stocks well.

Once a year, Buffett would invite people over to discuss stocks, and by 1991 Bill Gates was there:

 What about Kodak? asked Bill Ruane.  He looked back at Gates to see what he would say.

 “Kodak is toast,” said Gates.

  Nobody else in the Buffett Group knew that the internet and digital technology would make film cameras toast.  In 1991, even Kodak didn’t know it was toast.

Gates was obviously dead on.

And yet, here’s the stock chart since 1991 for Kodak.  Yes, it was eventually “toast.”  But if you had shorted it in 1991, you’d have lost 5X your money over the next five years.



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