Warren Buffett's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

If the economic crisis is getting you down, take heart: even the Oracle of Omaha and arguably one of the smartest businessman alive today is also having a tough year:

Berkshire Hathaway reported today that its net worth fell in 2008 by $11.5 billion, a decline reducing its per-share book value by 9.6%. That was Berkshire's worst result in the 44 years that Chairman Warren Buffett has run the company and, in fact, only the second decline in that period. The other drop was 6.2% in 2001, a year hurt by 9/11 and other problems in Berkshire's insurance operations. [...]

In his chairman's letter, Buffett states that 2008 had good points mixed in with the bad. But in an unusual admission for the opening pages of the letter (a point easily recognizable by this writer because she has edited Buffett's letter for 32 years) he says bluntly, "During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments."

The dumbest, he said, was buying a large amount of Conoco Phillips stock when oil prices were near their peak and in no way anticipating the dramatic drop in prices that subsequently occurred. Buffett said he still thinks the odds are good that oil will sell in the future at much higher prices than the $40 to $50 per barrel now prevailing. But even if prices should rise, he said, "the terrible timing" of the Conoco purchase has cost Berkshire several billion dollars.

Unlike you or me, however, Warren Buffett can drown his sorrow by counting his remaining bazillion dollars. Carol Loomis of Fortune has more: Link


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