Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s longtime sidekick at Berkshire Hathaway, dies at 99

By JOSH FUNK (AP Business Writer)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Charlie Munger, who helped Warren Buffett construct Berkshire Hathaway into an funding powerhouse, has died at a California hospital. He was 99.

Berkshire Hathaway mentioned in an announcement that Munger’s household informed the corporate that he died Tuesday morning on the hospital simply over a month earlier than his one centesimal birthday.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffett mentioned in an announcement.

Munger served as Buffett’s sounding board on investments and enterprise choices and helped lead Berkshire for greater than 5 a long time and served as its longtime vice chairman.

Munger had been utilizing a wheelchair to get round for a number of years however he had remained mentally sharp. That was on show whereas he fielded hours of questions on the annual conferences of Berkshire and the Daily Journal Corp. earlier this 12 months, and in current interviews on an investing podcast and likewise with The Wall Street Journal.

Munger most well-liked to remain within the background and let Buffett be the face of Berkshire, and he typically downplayed his contributions to the corporate’s exceptional success.

But Buffett at all times credited Munger with pushing him past his early worth investing methods to purchase nice companies at good costs like See’s Candy.

“Charlie has taught me a lot about valuing businesses and about human nature,” Buffett mentioned in 2008.

Buffett’s early successes have been primarily based on what he realized from former Columbia University professor Ben Graham. He would purchase inventory in corporations that have been promoting cheaply for lower than their property have been price, after which, when the market worth improved, promote the shares.

Munger and Buffett started shopping for Berkshire Hathaway shares in 1962 for $7 and $8 per share, and so they took management of the New England textile mill in 1965. Over time, the 2 males reshaped Berkshire into the conglomerate it’s immediately by utilizing proceeds from its companies to purchase different corporations like Geico insurance coverage and BNSF railroad, whereas additionally sustaining a high-profile inventory portfolio with main investments in Apple and Coca-Cola. The shares have grown to $546,869 Tuesday, and lots of traders grew to become rich by holding onto the inventory.

Munger gave an prolonged interview to CNBC earlier this month in preparation for his one centesimal birthday, and the enterprise community confirmed clips from that Tuesday. In his attribute self-deprecating method, Munger summed up the key to Berkshire’s success as avoiding errors and persevering with to work effectively into his and Buffett’s 90s.

“We got a little less crazy than most people and a little less stupid than most people and that really helped us,” Munger mentioned.

During all the time they labored collectively, Buffett and Munger lived greater than 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) aside, however Buffett mentioned he would name Munger in Los Angeles or Pasadena to seek the advice of on each main determination he made.

“He will be greatly missed by many, perhaps by nobody more than Mr. Buffett, who relied heavily on his wisdom and counsel. I was envious of their friendship. They challenged each other yet seemed to really enjoy being in each other’s company,” Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan mentioned.

Munger grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, about 5 blocks away from Buffett’s present house, however as a result of Munger is seven years older the 2 males didn’t meet as youngsters, regardless that each labored on the grocery retailer Buffett’s grandfather and uncle ran.

When the 2 males met in 1959 at an Omaha feast, Munger was training legislation in Southern California and Buffett was operating an funding partnership in Omaha.

Buffett and Munger hit it off at that preliminary assembly after which saved in contact by way of frequent phone calls and prolonged letters, based on the biography within the definitive ebook on Munger known as “Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.”

The two males shared funding concepts and sometimes purchased into the identical corporations through the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s. They grew to become the 2 largest shareholders in one in all their frequent investments, buying and selling stamp maker Blue Chip Stamp Co., and thru that acquired See’s Candy, the Buffalo News and Wesco. Munger grew to become Berkshire’s vice chairman in 1978, and chairman and president of Wesco Financial in 1984.

Berkshire’s legions of devoted shareholders who frequently packed an Omaha enviornment to take heed to the 2 males will bear in mind the curmudgeonly quips Munger provided whereas answering questions alongside Buffett on the annual conferences.

Munger was recognized for repeating “I have nothing to add” after a lot of Buffett’s expansive solutions on the Berkshire conferences. But Munger additionally typically provided sharp solutions that minimize straight to the center of a difficulty, reminiscent of the recommendation he provided in 2012 on recognizing a very good funding.

“If it’s got a really high commission on it, don’t bother looking at it,” he mentioned.

Munger was often called a voracious reader and a pupil of human habits. He employed quite a lot of totally different fashions borrowed from disciplines like psychology, physics and arithmetic to guage potential investments.

Munger studied arithmetic on the University of Michigan within the Forties, however dropped out of school to function a meteorologist within the Army Air Corps throughout World War II.

Then he went on to earn a legislation diploma from Harvard University in 1948 regardless that he hadn’t completed a bachelor’s diploma.

Munger constructed a fortune price greater than $2 billion at one level and earned a spot on the checklist of the richest Americans. Munger’s wealth decreased over time as he gave extra of his fortune away, however the ever rising worth of Berkshire’s inventory saved him rich.

Munger has given important items to Harvard-Westlake, Stanford University Law School, the University of Michigan and the Huntington Library in addition to different charities. He additionally gave a good portion of his Berkshire inventory to his eight youngsters after his spouse died in 2010.

Munger additionally served on the boards of Good Samaritan Hospital and the non-public Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. And Munger served on the board of Costco Wholesale Corp. and for years as chairman of the Daily Journal Corp.

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Follow Josh Funk on-line at www.twitter.com/funkwrite