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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » CORPORATE CHRONICLE™ »  "Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut,"

"Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut,"

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Asoka Samarakone


Expert
Expert
2:16 PM ET Tue, 12 Feb 2019  Updated 5:53 PM ET Tue, 12 Feb 2019
Whether you're buying a stock or a house or a business, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway advises to do your own research. Don't trust the "experts."


"Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut," 02.17.2019Buffett told the audience at Berkshire's 1994 annual meeting. Buffett's longtime partner Charlie Munger recalled him and Warren being offered a thick book of $2 million worth of projections during the process of buying a business.


"We almost paid $2 million not to look at it," Buffett joked to the audience.


"I do not understand why any buyer of a business looks at a bunch of projections put together by a seller...or his agent," he continued.
 
Obtaining information or trusting analysis from someone who has an interest in a particular deal is detrimental due to its innate bias. Munger called projections "intrinsically dangerous."


Buffett reviews annual reports and other filings to draw his own conclusions. He believes you should stick with businesses that you can evaluate yourself.


The 88-year-old's methodology proved to be not only insightful but successful. Berkshire has returned 20 percent annually over the last 40 years, double the return of the S&P 500 over that same time span, according to FactSet.
If you've been in cash and you want to throw it all in, I certainly wouldn't do that," Paulsen said. "But I think it's OK to be over tilted to the positive side."
A worse-than-expected outcome would likely push the market lower as growth expectations continue to be ratcheted lower."
The obstacles remain, though.
Investors will be hoping that a stronger economy can help make up for earnings weakness.

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