Short-term investment, long-term investment or hold stocks forever? Buffett tells us how he did it.
Question: Why would you hold stocks forever, if the fundamentals change permanently? (Buy and hold)
Buffett: We don’t—we sell plenty. If we lose confidence or conditions change, we sell. When in doubt, we keep holding. But for [our wholly-owned] companies, we hold and won’t sell unless a company promises to lose money indefinitely, or there’s a labor problem. We buy for keeps and won’t sell, even if the offer is for more than [the company is] worth. If we were wrong, we sell. Last year, I sold a couple of billion dollars’ worth of Johnson & Johnson just to raise cash for other purposes—an unusual situation. Someone asked us earlier what we’d do differently if we owned the whole company [Berkshire]. The answer is: nothing. We run Berkshire as if we owned 100%. Our peculiarity is our commitment to buy for keeps. People who sell their businesses to Berkshire know we won’t hire some management consultant or leverage it up, and that’s a real advantage.
Munger: The Berkshire system has legs, as they say in show business.
Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2009 Bruni Notes
Most of our large stock positions are going to be held for many years and the scorecard on our investment decisions will be provided by business results over that period, and not by prices on any given day. Just as it would be foolish to focus unduly on short-term prospects when acquiring an entire company, we think it equally unsound to become mesmerized by prospective near term earnings or recent trends in earnings when purchasing small pieces of a company; i.e., marketable common stocks.
Source: Warren Buffett’s Letter to Berkshire Shareholders, 1977