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1. I did alot like you when I first started trying to grow my IRA funds (not mutual). Lots of ups and more downs in most years. Then in early 1996, after following it and working up my courage for about three or four years, I put 90+% of my IRA into Berkshire Hathaway Corp (BRKA and BRKB, Class A and Class B issues, respectively).
2. The company is mostly an insurance operation (owns GEICO among other insurance things) and also owns a bunch of smaller companies plus considerable stock positions (8 - 12%) in solid companies like Gillette, AmericanExpress, Washington Post, Freddie Mac, Wells Fargo, and Coka Cola. The operation is run by the "Sage of Omaha" Warren E. Buffett (old) and his buddy Charlie Munger(older).
3. Berkshire has grown (in price and in net worth/stockholder equity) between 24 and 25% annual average for the past 33 years -- naturally some years are better than others but it's the long-haul average that counts. That's doubling every three years.... Bang that up against your favorite mutual fund.
4. My BRKA has gone up 112% in 2.7 years. At this rate, a person can drag out ~15% per year for old age enjoyment or subsistance, whatever, and the principal will continue to grow.
5. Brokers don't like BRKA/B much because it is the epitome of the buy and hold stock, therefore no trading or sales commission in it for them other than the initial buy and very occasional small buys/sells for most loong-term holders. In fact, Warren Buffett says thet if you're not in Berkshire for the long-haul buy something else.
6. There is much info available on the web: BRKA/B homepage -- much to read here
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