Les leçons de Warren B.

Les lettres aux investisseurs publiées annuellement par Warren Buffett, en même temps que les résultats de sa holding Berkshire Hathaway, sont souvent l’occasion pour l’oracle d’Omaha de deviser librement sur le sort de l’économie, des investissements de son groupe et de l’attitude d’un investisseur intelligent. Ces lettres devraient être largement diffusées aux investisseurs français.

La valeur d’actif net de Berkshire Hathaway a bondi de 19,8% en 2009 (soit un gain net de 21,8 milliards de dollars), après un repli de 9,6% en 2008. Si l’homme d’affaires est en retard sur le S&P 500 (+26,5% en 2009), l’indice phare américain a plongé de 37% en 2008. Et en moyenne depuis 1965, Berkshire Hathaway affiche un rendement annuel de 20,3% contre 9,3% pour la Bourse américaine.

L’édition 2009 de Warren Buffett (et de son partenaire Charlie Munger) relève quelques remarques que je me permets de reprendre in extenso en VO…

«Charlie and I avoid businesses whose futures we can’t evaluate, no matter how exciting their products may be. »

«Investors who buy and sell based upon media or analyst commentary are not for us. Instead we want partners who join us at Berkshire because they wish to make a long-term investment in a business they themselves understand and because it’s one that follows policies with which they concur.»

«…the best businesses by far for investors continue to be those that have high returns on capital and that require little incremental investment to grow.»

«When it’s raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble.»

«A CEO must not delegate risk control. (…) a board of directors of a huge financial institution is derelict if it does not insist that its CEO bear full responsibility for risk control. If he’s incapable of handling that job, he should look for other employment. And if he fails at it, (…) the financial consequences for him and his board should be severe.»

«The CEOs and directors of the failed companies, however, have largely gone unscathed. Their fortunes may have been diminished by the disasters they oversaw, but they still live in grand style. It is the behavior of these CEOs and directors that needs to be changed.»

«Charlie and I enjoy issuing Berkshire stock about as much as we relish prepping for a colonoscopy. The reason for our distaste is simple. If we wouldn’t dream of selling Berkshire in its entirety at the current market price, why in the world should we « sell » a significant part of the company at the same inadequate price by issuing our stock in a merger ?»

«If shares of a prospective acquirer are selling below their intrinsic value, it’s impossible for that buyer to make a sensible deal in an all-stock deal.»

«When stock is the currency being contemplated in an acquisition and when directors are hearing from an advisor, it appears to me that there is only one way to get a rational and balanced discussion. Directors should hire a second advisor to make the case against the proposed acquisition, with its fee contingent on the deal not going through. Absent this drasticaly remedy, our recommendation in respect to the use of advisors remains: « Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut » .»