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Top 10 quotes from the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway meeting

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Over five hours, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger answered more than 80 questions at the 53rd Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. These business titans covered everything from cryptocurrencies and Apple, to eating Oreos for breakfast. Here are ten of the most memorable quotes:

On a long-term focus: "Nobody buys a farm based on whether they think it's going to rain next year. They buy it because they think it's a good investment over 10 or 20 years." [Buffett]

On cryptocurrencies: "When you buy Bitcoin, you are just hoping that the next guy will pay more; it will not produce profit itself. That is not investing, that is a kind of game ... Anytime you're buying a non-productive asset, you are counting on somebody else to buy it at a higher price on a later date because that person thinks he would be able to sell it to someone else. Eventually, cryptocurrency will come to a bad ending. It has nothing to add value to it." [Buffett]

On slipping standards at Wells Fargo: "All the big banks have had troubles of one sort or another ... And I see no reason why Wells Fargo as a company, from both an investor standpoint and a moral standpoint going forward, is in any way inferior to the other big banks with which it competes." [Buffett]  "Harvey Weinstein has done a lot for improving behaviour too." [Munger]

On staying simple: "Index funds are the best form of equity investing. If you consistently stick with them over decades, they will do wonders. [The only reason] we have not invested our cash holding in ETFs [is] because we would rather buy entire businesses." [Buffett]

On increasing investment in capital-intensive businesses: "We always prefer businesses that earn handsome returns on capital. AmEx has been earning terrific returns on capital for a long time. We have gone into capital-intensive businesses at decent prices, hoping for a decent return. It's probably the second best choice and not the best choice. We have not foregone any opportunity to buy businesses that earn high returns." [Buffett]

On avoiding formulas in valuation: "I do not use a formulaic approach to valuing a company or stock like future cash flow etc. If the gap between value and price do not look attractive, I go to something else." [Munger] 

On low interest rates: "Low interest rates are unfair to old savers, but favourable to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders sitting here. We are all a bunch of undeserving people and hope we continue to be so." [Buffett]

On major investment in Apple: "Apple has an incredible consumer product. If it's extremely hard to find an acquisition, it would be good to see them repurchase shares. With the passage of time, we may own 6–7% of Apple, from 5% now. They have an extraordinary product system. They have a sticky product range with an interesting ecosystem." [Buffett]

On Warren Buffett's habits: “He sits around reading most of the time and thinking, and every once in a while he talks on the phone. I can’t see any difference [over the years]. When there is nothing to do, Warren is very good at doing nothing.” [Munger]

On constant learning: If you're going to live a long time, you have to keep learning. What you formerly knew is never enough. So if you don't learn to constantly revise your earlier conclusions and get better ones ... you're like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest." [Munger]

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Graham Witcomb is a senior analyst at Intelligent Investor, owned by InvestSMART (under AFSL 282288). This article contains general investment advice only. It has been prepared without having regarded to or taking into account any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation and/or needs. All investors should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of their own objectives, financial situation and/or needs, before acting on the advice. This article does not reflect the views of nabtrade. The article was originally published 7 May 2018.