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The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America [Paperback]

Warren E. Buffett , Lawrence A. Cunningham
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 14 2008 0966446127 978-0966446128 2
Experienced readers of Warren Buffett's letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. have gained an enormously valuable informal education. The letters distill in plain words all the basic principles of sound business practices.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Buffett, the Bard of Omaha, is a genuine American folk hero, if folk heroes are allowed to build fortunes worth upward of $15 billion. He's great at homespun metaphor, but behind those catchy phrases is a reservoir of financial acumen that's generally considered the best of his generation. For example, in an essay on CEO stock options, he writes, "Negotiating with one's self seldom produces a barroom brawl." This is his way of saying that an executive who can give himself compensation totally disproportionate to his performance surely will. There are uncountable gems of financial wisdom to be harvested from these essays, taken from the annual reports he writes for Berkshire Hathaway, his holding company. Just to pick one more, here's a now-famous line about those he competes with when making stock-market investments: "What could be more advantageous in an intellectual contest--whether it be chess, bridge, or stock selection--than to have opponents who have been taught that thinking is a waste of energy?"

While Buffett has a policy of seldom commenting on stocks he owns--he feels public pronouncements will only lead to the public's expectation of more public pronouncements, and he likes to keep his cards close to his vest--he loves to discuss the principles behind his investments. These come primarily from Ben Graham, under whom Buffett studied at Columbia University and for whom he worked in the 1950s. First among them is the idea that price is what you pay and value is what you get--and if you're a smart investor, the first will always be less than the second. In that sense, the value of the lessons learned from Buffett's Essays could be far greater than the book's price. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...the only compendium of writings from the Sage of Omaha himself...a carefully chosen selection of Buffett's famous annual letters" (CityWire.co.uk, January 16th 2009) 'This book is highly rated by Jason Ashman of Chatfield Private Clint, for both investors and managers.' (The Week, 28th April 2012) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is my review of the THIRD EDITION, dated March 18, 2013. If you wish to read my review of the SECOND EDITION, it follows.

This is the Third Edition of an ongoing process by which Warren Buffett presents a "chairman's letter" (i.e. progress report with his unique reflections) to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at their annual meeting. Lawrence A. Cunningham edited each of the three editions, with the latest including Buffett's annual letters to Berkshire shareholders since 2008, the date of the prior edition. Other new material includes:

o The financial crisis and its continuing implications for investors, managers and society;
o The housing bubble at the bottom of that crisis
o The debt and derivatives excesses that fueled the crisis and how to deal with them
o Controlling risk and protecting reputation in corporate governance
o Berkshire's acquisition and operation of Burlington Northern Santa Fe
o The role of oversight in heavily regulated industries
o Investment possibilities today
o Weaknesses of popular option valuation models

Some other material has been rearranged to deepen the themes and lessons that the collection has always produced:

o Buffett's "owner-related business principles" are in the prologue as a separate subject
o Valuation and accounting topics are spread over four instead of two sections and reordered to sharpen their payoff.

According to Cunningham, "Those who are familiar with The Essays will notice that we have made the cover snappier than has been our custom. (Thanks for the cover design to Tim Colton, of Carolina Academic Press, which will continue to partner with me in the distribution of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proper Business Practices Feb. 28 2004
Format:Paperback
"The Essays of Warren Buffett" is a textbook on proper business practice used at Cardozo Law. Yeah, I know you can go to the Berkshire Hathaway website and get all of Buffett's letters to the shareholders (in fact those who truly want to know more can do this). But this book cuts to the chase. It is edited in such a way that the essays are grouped in a logical manner. Thus, you don't have to plow through all the letters ( which at times can be boring and redundant).This makes reading rather convenient and efficient. The parts of the book that are most useful for an individual investor are the sections on "corporate governance" (in which Buffett describes what makes a good CEO and Board) and on "corporate finance and investing" ( in which Buffett argues against the Efficient Market Theory and argues for the Graham-Dodd approach). I found the essays on "accounting and valuation" and "accounting policy and tax matters" a bit tedious (though the section on stock options was rather interesting).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wit and Wisdom of Warren Buffett March 11 2004
Format:Paperback
If you are used to reading public company annual reports, including the (usually) short letters from company presidents, you know how shallow, self-congratulatory and sometimes even misleading these reports can be. On the (extreme) other hand, Warren Buffett's annual letters in his Berkshire Hathaway annual reports represent detailed, on-target, lively and highly readable masterpieces of valuable education, information, and wit. You can read Buffett's annual letters for free at Berkshire Hathaway's website, but it will take you a while, since there are many of them (back to 1977) and they run 20+ pages each. Further, Buffett's various letters weren't intended to serve as serial chapters of a book. Better, you can shell out the cost of Lawrence Cunningham's thematically organized collection (220 pages or so)of Buffett's essays and gain a better appreciation of the numerous important topics that Buffett addresses. These topics include, first and foremost, the critical impact of the quality of corporate governance--Buffett was years ahead of most investors in focusing on this area. Other topics include corporate finance (addressed with a clarity that is both unusual and revealing of Buffett's powers of insight), mergers and acquisitions, accounting (Buffett is the only person I know who can regularly make accounting seem positively interesting), taxes, junk bonds and much more.
Moreover, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is nearly unique in its intense commitment to shareholders. The opposite (a commitment to management entrenchment and exorbitant compensation) is the norm with so many companies today that it would be easy to forget how vital shareholder primacy should be.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Warren Buffett's writing is sophisticated, yet eloquent that anyone that puts the effort and time to study his essays are sure to learn a lot about corporate america. Buffett's wisdom is so valuable yet many people in finance have neither read nor learned his principles that he applies. He puts his money where his mouth is. It will not guarantee that you will make billions reading his essays, but you sure will make a lot less investing mistakes. If you have a passion for finance/investing then read it, study it, and enjoy its witty, colloquial essays. Cheers, and happy investing.

(Read other books like, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip A. Fisher, The Five Rules for Successful Stock Investing by Pat Dorsey and you sure will be ahead of the crowd)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable reference
This is a fantastic collection of Warren Buffett 's writings, providing an in depth tutorial on corporate finance, management, and investing.
Published 9 months ago by Yves
5.0 out of 5 stars Speedy delivery
I have not yet been able to read the essays as I have been quite busy.The provider of the essays sent it in timely fashion and they came in very good condition
Published 10 months ago by oogie
5.0 out of 5 stars Here in the Third Edition are business information, insights, and...
This is the Third Edition of an ongoing process by which Warren Buffett presents a "chairman's letter" (i.e. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Warren Buffett never disapoints, and neither have his letters to shareholders. Only Warren Buffett can explain the most difficult things in the world of high finance and make them... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Gary
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of Buffett Wisdom
The Essays of Warren Buffett is a collection of letters written by Warren Buffett to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders and selected and edited by Lawrence Cunningham. Read more
Published on March 30 2008 by B. Piché
5.0 out of 5 stars Delayed in print and not "OUT OF PRINT"
I have been talking to Professor Cunningham and apparently, this book is not "out of print" as amazon states (Third party private sellers are selling the book for as much... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Buan Pong Chua
4.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned his own principles in the late 1990s
Buffet is trenchant and smart but abandoned his own principles in the late 90s after run ups of KO, FRE, and other stocks he had the foresight to purchase in the 80s. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004
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