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Author: MadCapitalist Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 463324  
Subject: Re: Catastrophe theory, instability, risk Date: 10/11/2012 8:49 PM
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That's plain silly. I can hold different opinions than WEB and yet not bet AGAINST him. For example, he has said he doesn't understand tech stocks. I claim that I do and I buy INTC and DELL.

Actually, that's not quite accurate. It is a common misunderstanding of Buffett. When Buffett says that he doesn't understand technology, he means that he can't make reliable predictions of the economics of the industry.

“Sometimes our own intellectual shortcomings would stand in the way of understanding, and in other cases the nature of the industry would be the roadblock. For example, a business that must deal with fast-moving technology is not going to lend itself to reliable evaluations of its long-term economics. Did we foresee thirty years ago what would transpire in the television-manufacturing or computer industries? Of course not. (Nor did most of the investors and corporate managers who enthusiastically entered those industries.) Why, then, should Charlie and I now think we can predict the future of other rapidly-evolving businesses? We'll stick instead with the easy cases. Why search for a needle buried in a haystack when one is sitting in plain sight?”
1993 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders
http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/1993.html

“Obviously many companies in high-tech businesses or embryonic industries will grow much faster in percentage terms than will The Inevitables. But I would rather be certain of a good result than hopeful of a great one.”
1996 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders
http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/1996.html

“We made few portfolio changes in 1999. As I mentioned earlier, several of the companies in which we have large investments had disappointing business results last year. Nevertheless, we believe these companies have important competitive advantages that will endure over time. This attribute, which makes for good long-term investment results, is one Charlie and I occasionally believe we can identify. More often, however, we can’t — not at least with a high degree of conviction. This explains, by the way, why we don’t own stocks of tech companies, even though we share the general view that our society will be transformed by their products and services. Our problem — which we can’t solve by studying up — is that we have no insights into which participants in the tech field possess a truly durable competitive advantage.

Our lack of tech insights, we should add, does not distress us. After all, there are a great many business areas in which Charlie and I have no special capital-allocation expertise. For instance, we bring nothing to the table when it comes to evaluating patents, manufacturing processes or geological prospects. So we simply don’t get into judgments in those fields.

If we have a strength, it is in recognizing when we are operating well within our circle of competence and when we are approaching the perimeter. Predicting the long-term economics of companies that operate in fast-changing industries is simply far beyond our perimeter. If others claim predictive skill in those industries — and seem to have their claims validated by the behavior of the stock market — we neither envy nor emulate them. Instead, we just stick with what we understand. If we stray, we will have done so inadvertently, not because we got restless and substituted hope for rationality. Fortunately, it’s almost certain there will be opportunities from time to time for Berkshire to do well within the circle we’ve staked out.”

1999 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders
http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/1999htm.html
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