Warren Buffett knows a thing or two about success. With a net worth of $76 billion, the billionaire investor's fabled business acumen has inspired everything from investment books to college courses. He is known to favor long-term investment strategies, like dollar cost averaging, which encourages the regular purchase of the same investment over time. He also has long-standing holdings in the Coca-Cola Company, Apple, and American Express among others.
His latest letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders offers yet more insight into how the so-called Oracle of Omaha reads the tea leaves. In it, he emphasized fear as an opportunity for investors "because it serves up bargain purchases."
But what of his other go-to advice? Here five of Buffett's evergreen recommendations, pulled from investment analyst Jeremy Miller' 2016 book Warren Buffett's Ground Rules. He highlights just a sampling of Buffett's shareholder letters from the 50s and 60s.
1. Risk isn't always advantageous.
"Put 10 percent of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90 percent in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund," says Buffett.
It's his belief that this strategy will yield the best returns for your money. He's so confident in it that he has instructed the trustee of his will to follow the strategy after his death.
2. Measure your performance.
"Whether we do a good job or a poor job is not to be measured by whether we are plus or minus for the year," says Buffett. "It is instead to be measured against the general experience in securities as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, leading investment companies, etc. if our record is better than that of these yardsticks, we consider it a good year whether we are plus or minus. If we do poorer, we deserve the tomatoes."
If you're performing better than the market, then you should take it as a win (even if you have a loss.)
3. Think long-term.
"Over a period of time there are going to be good and bad years," writes Buffett. "There is nothing to be gained by getting enthused or depressed about the sequence in which they occur."
As above, you should think about your stocks in the long-term. Outperforming the market is a sign that you're heading in the right direction, even when dealing with flat or negative numbers.
4. Buy the business, not the stock price.
"I can only tell you that the secret has been out for 50 years, ever since Ben Graham and David Dodd wrote Security Analysis," says Buffett. "Yet I have seen no trend toward value investing in the last 35 years I've practiced it. There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult."
For Warren Buffett, a good investment is about understanding the business (and the opportunity it represents) rather than solely focusing on its stock price.
5. Prioritize good business relationships.
"When I am dealing with people I like, in businesses I find stimulating (what business isn't?), and achieving worthwhile overall returns on capital employed (say, 10-12 percent), it seems foolish to rush from situation to situation to earn a few more percentage points," wrote Buffett in 1968. "It also does not seem sensible to me to trade known pleasant personal relationships with high grade people, at a decent rate of return, for possible irritation, aggravation or worse at potentially higher returns."
You know the saying "better the devil you know..."