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A sensible purchase price

“Investing is an activity in which consumption today is foregone in an attempt to allow greater consumption at a later date. “Risk” is the possibility that this objective won’t be attained.” -Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet published his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders this past Saturday. I always enjoy reading his letters and I have been doing it for years. If only he wrote a daily blog.

One of the things he talks about in this year’s letter is why Berkshire wasn’t very acquisitive in 2017:

In our search for new stand-alone businesses, the key qualities we seek are durable competitive strengths; able and high-grade management; good returns on the net tangible assets required to operate the business; opportunities for internal growth at attractive returns; and, finally, a sensible purchase price.

That last requirement proved a barrier to virtually all deals we reviewed in 2017, as prices for decent, but far from spectacular, businesses hit an all-time high. Indeed, price seemed almost irrelevant to an army of optimistic purchasers.

Some of you in the real estate game might be feeling similarly. But he ends the section with these words of advice: 

In the meantime, we will stick with our simple guideline: The less the prudence with which others conduct their affairs, the greater the prudence with which we must conduct our own.

Buffet has a way of simplifying things. He also, clearly, has a way of remaining disciplined.

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