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Buffett biographer: Here's what makes Warren so remarkable

Warren Buffett has made billions of dollars in his career as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, but did you know he’s never made money by selling his own company’s stock?

“Buffett has never sold a share of Berkshire Hathaway,” says author Roger Lowenstein. “That would be like saying John D. Rockefeller never got anything out of his oil wells. It’s kind of remarkable.”

Lowenstein was one of the first to pull back the curtain on the Oracle of Omaha. He’s written several books about the world’s most famous investor, including “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.

Each year, investors both large and small, eagerly await Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders. For many, reading the folksy prose is a cherished tradition.

Students cheer the arrival of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett during the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

In his 2016 letter, the legendary 86-year-old investor shared his thoughts on American business and, by extension, the US stock market. And the view is simple: Stocks will, over time, go up.

Buffett also divulged that his vast portfolio now includes airline stocks for the first time, and he once again extolled the benefits of passive investing versus the day-to-day management of one’s portfolio.

Lowenstein says Buffett’s annual shareholder letter has actually changed the way a lot of people think about investing.

“It’s been an ongoing tutorial about American business and finance and investing,” he says.

He describes the letter as fun and blunt and filled with things you don’t usually see in a typical shareholder letter, like talk about politics—and even sex. But Lowenstein stresses that at its core, Buffett’s letter provides investors with valuable investing information and life lessons.

“[The letter] has been the equivalent of Poor Richard’s Almanac,” says Lowenstein. “And many Americans who have read it are wealthier because of it.”

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