The focus of this book is to uncover the key insights of Warren Buffett’s investments by journeying through his career beginning in the late 1950’s, when he started his investment partnership, until the present. The author looks at 20 specific investments Buffett made which were significant because of either the size of the investment or which were otherwise especially informative. In analyzing these investments, the author’s intention was to look at the detailed actions Buffett took in making his investment decision and understand from a third party perspective, what rationales he or any investor was likely to have seen in each situation. Where appropriate, the author tries to take the perspective of an investment analyst studying the businesses at the same time in which Buffett did, to bring into relief Buffett’s unique standpoint. In this way, unlike the many biography-focused books written about Buffett, this book focuses on his key investments rather than on Buffett. From the several publications that do contain significant information about the investments (including Buffett’s own annual letters), this book aims to extend beyond that knowledge by leveraging original source documents and other historical information where possible. The author’s overall aim is for this book to give the reader one realistic analysis of the key investments that Buffett made, from which the reader may draw his own insights and conclusions.
In outlining the text, the book is structured into three major sections following a chronological order. The first section details five key investments that Buffett made between 1957 and 1968 when he ran the Buffett Partnership Limited, the private investment partnership he managed before taking over Berkshire Hathaway. The second section details nine investments made between 1968 and 1990, the first 2 decades where Berkshire Hathaway served as Buffett’s investment vehicle. The last section focuses on the period at Berkshire since 1990. Each of the three sections has a brief introduction to give a picture of how they fit within Buffett’s career as well as setting the broader investment context during that time period of US stock market, the primary market into which he invested. Within the sections, individual chapters are set around the specific investments, treating each as a case study. The final section of the book intends to reflect upon the broader evolution of Buffett as an investor. It also summarizes the author’s overall learning from Buffett’s investment philosophy and strategy gathered through his analysis of the 20 key investments.