Here's how badly Warren Buffett has crushed the market

Photo: Lacy O’Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

The Berkshire Hathaway 2017 Annual Shareholders Meeting kicks off on Saturday May 6, and to mark the occasion, we looked at how Warren Buffett has stacked up against the broader stock market since he bought the then-failing namesake textile company in 1964.

Business Insider compared the historical performance of Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price from a 2001 retrospective by Meir Statman and Jonathan Scheid and Yahoo Finance to the performance of the S&P 500.

Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price increased by a mind-blowing 1,300,000% between December 1964 and May 2017. The S&P 500, on the other hand, increased by “only” about 2,700% over that time.

The difference in performance is so astonishing that a standard, linear-scale line chart makes the broader stock index’s respectable performance look like a completely flat line:

To get a more meaningful comparison between the two, we can look at a chart based on a logarithmic scale, in which the vertical axis represents powers of 10:

Another way to look at Buffett’s superhuman investing powers is to compare annual growth rates of Berkshire stock and the broader stock market. Since year-to-year changes are extremely noisy and volatile, we made a chart showing the five-year moving-average annual price returns for Berkshire’s stock and the S&P 500 since Buffett’s takeover:

Through the end of the 20th century, Buffett handily outperformed equities as a whole. Since 1999, he’s still tended to beat the market, but by a more modest amount.

We’ll have full coverage of the Berkshire Hathaway 2017 Annual Shareholders Meeting on Saturday.

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