U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 45 mins

Warren Buffett says Jack Bogle is a 'hero' to investors

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Warren Buffett hates fees.

In his latest annual letter to shareholders, the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) CEO goes on a lengthy missive about how nothing hurts the average investor more than fees charged by Wall Street pros. “As Gordon Gekko might have put it: ‘Fees never sleep,'” Buffett quipped.

It is, then, not superior investment returns but lower fees that Buffett sees as the real innovation made over the last generation of investors. And in Buffett’s view, no one has done more for the average investor than Vanguard founder Jack Bogle.

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle.

“If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle,” Buffett writes.

“For decades, Jack has urged investors to invest in ultra-low-cost index funds. In his crusade, he amassed only a tiny percentage of the wealth that has typically flowed to managers who have promised their investors large rewards while delivering them nothing — or, as in our bet, less than nothing — of added value.

“In his early years, Jack was frequently mocked by the investment-management industry. Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me.” (Emphasis added.)

Vanguard, which has about $4 trillion in assets under management, is seen as the industry leader in cutting fees for investors. Their S&P 500 index mutual fund, which is designed to simply track the performance of the benchmark index, charges 5 basis points per year in fees.

And this chart from Vanguard is perhaps the easiest distillation of the company’s motivating principle: minimize fees to maximize returns.

Source: Vanguard

This philosophy has led to an industry-wide “race to zero,” as a Bloomberg article recently put it, as firms compete to lower expenses for mutual funds and ETFs.

Now Buffett, as someone who over the course of his investing career has significantly outperformed the S&P 500, knows that it is not an entirely futile effort for those who enter the field.

“The job, after all, is not impossible,” Buffett writes.

“The problem simply is that the great majority of managers who attempt to over-perform will fail. The probability is also very high that the person soliciting your funds will not be the exception who does well.”

And so for Buffett, choosing low-cost investments are simply about stacking the odds in your favor.

As Buffett writes, “The bottom line: When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients. Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds.”

Ahead of the letter, many expected Buffett to weigh in on the “active vs. passive” debate that has been heating up over the last couple years in the investing world. Both “active” and “passive,” however, carry a somewhat negative connotation.

Active implies investors — or, more specifically, fund managers — making changes to a portfolio simply for the sake of change. Passive implies that investors are simply lemmings, sitting back and doing nothing while potentially losing money.

But Buffett’s discussion of the issue in his latest letter also re-focuses that debate towards one that is more productive and captures what “active vs. passive” really means. This debate is not about how you invest but how much it costs for you to invest.

As Buffett writes elsewhere in the letter, the stock market — a collection of American businesses — is almost certain to be worth more in the future. There will be declines along the way and periods when market drops will make investors of all sizes afraid.

There is, in Buffett’s view, a simple antidote: “Investors who avoid high and unnecessary costs and simply sit for an extended period with a collection of large, conservatively-financed American businesses will almost certainly do well.”

And, because of Jack Bogle, this investment won’t cost much.

Yahoo Finance will host the exclusive live stream of Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders meeting on May 6, 2017.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

Read more from Myles here:

  • Business
    Associated Press

    United Rentals: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

    STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ United Rentals Inc. (URI) on Wednesday reported third-quarter earnings of $333 million. On a per-share basis, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said it had profit of $4.01. Earnings, adjusted

  • A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake
    Business
    Business Insider

    A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake

    Beth Comstock is the former vice chair of General Electric. Comstock would hand out "permission slips" authorizing employees to take risks — but she also said it's important for people to stop hiding behind their excuses. Beth Comstock doesn't tolerate excuses.

  • Alibaba (BABA) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know
    Finance
    Zacks

    Alibaba (BABA) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know

    Investors will be hoping for strength from BABA as it approaches its next earnings release, which is expected to be November 2, 2018. On that day, BABA is projected to report earnings of $1.16 per share, which would represent a year-over-year decline of 10.08%. Investors should also note any recent changes to analyst estimates for BABA.

  • Ken Langone: 'Who the hell in their right frame of mind would be buying bonds now?'
    Business
    Yahoo Finance

    Ken Langone: 'Who the hell in their right frame of mind would be buying bonds now?'

    Billionaire investor and philanthropist Ken Langone, the founder of The Home Depot (HD) and chairman of Invemed Associates, argued that there’s some “big time” structural problems in the market right now. Because if we are on a trajectory of raising rates that means, and if it keeps going that way and I don’t know how high it will go, and it keeps going that way then all the sudden the guy who bought those bonds is going to be looking at a fairly decent loss,” Langone said.

  • Intel restructures manufacturing organization
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Intel restructures manufacturing organization

    Chip giant Intel is restructuring its technology and manufacturing business group as it chases more connected device markets and grapples with delays on its next chip generation. In a memo to employees, reviewed by the Business Journal, Group President and Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala described splitting the technology and manufacturing business into three groups. The three new groups are technology development, manufacturing and operations and global supply chain.

  • Why American Airlines Group Stock Jumped 6% -- Then Gave Most of It Back
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why American Airlines Group Stock Jumped 6% -- Then Gave Most of It Back

    Shares of American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL) popped 6.4% in early trading Wednesday before retracting to close the day up less than 1% -- just 0.9%, to be precise. An upgrade assigned to the stock by Deutsche Bank appears to be the primary reason for the move. A Deutsche Bank analyst upgraded American Airlines stock from "hold" to "buy" on Wednesday, as we're told by our friends at StreetInsider.com.

  • Social Security Checks Are Increasing: What Does That Mean For You?
    Business
    Fortune

    Social Security Checks Are Increasing: What Does That Mean For You?

    Social Security checks will see their biggest increase in four years as 2019 kicks off. The Social Security Administration has approved a 2.8% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year. That follows a 2% jump this year and an increase of just

  • These 3 Retailers Will Benefit From the Death of Sears
    Business
    Motley Fool

    These 3 Retailers Will Benefit From the Death of Sears

    Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) recently filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that it will close nearly 200 stores by the end of the year. Sears still hopes to operate at least 400 stores going forward, but their fate remains uncertain as the company undergoes a painful restructuring to alleviate its billions of dollars in debt. Sears' bankruptcy was telegraphed years ago, as the retailer struggled with declining mall traffic and intense competition from superstores and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN).

  • Employee Accused of Urinating on Production Line at Food Processing Facility
    Business
    WTKR - Norfolk

    Employee Accused of Urinating on Production Line at Food Processing Facility

    Smithfield Foods, Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that it disposed of more than 50,000 pounds of product after reports of an employee urinating at his station at the company’s processing facility in Virginia.

  • 10 Marijuana Stocks for the Canadian ‘Pot Rush’
    Finance
    InvestorPlace

    10 Marijuana Stocks for the Canadian ‘Pot Rush’

    After historic legislation that moved Canada as the first G7 member state to legalize recreational marijuana, it became official. This has significant implications, especially for marijuana stocks. As such, investors should strongly consider marijuana stocks to buy, irrespective of their personal reservations.

  • Home Depot Stock Falls 4.5% on Credit Suisse’s Downgrade
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Home Depot Stock Falls 4.5% on Credit Suisse’s Downgrade

    Home Depot Stock Falls 4.5% on Credit Suisse’s Downgrade Credit Suisse’s downgrade Today, CNBC reported that Credit Suisse downgraded Home Depot (HD) stock from “outperform” to “neutral.” Credit Suisse lowered its price target from $222.00 to $204.00

  • Legal pot in Canada putting pressure on US
    CGC
    Yahoo Finance Video

    Legal pot in Canada putting pressure on US

    Canada’s moves to legalize recreational marijuana could have major impacts on the US. Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous speaks with Alexis Keenan about the state of legalization in this country.

  • A Look at Skechers’ Recent Growth Numbers
    Finance
    Market Realist

    A Look at Skechers’ Recent Growth Numbers

    Can Skechers Hit Its Stride in Q3 2018? (Continued from Prior Part) Looking at Skechers’ growth numbers Skechers (SKX) reported strong double-digit growth between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2017. Its total sales increased at an average of 22.0% during this

  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Q3 Earnings Preview: Here's What to Look Out For
    Business
    Zacks

    Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Q3 Earnings Preview: Here's What to Look Out For

    Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is expected to deliver a year-over-year increase in earnings on higher revenues when it reports results for the quarter ended September 2018. This widely-known consensus outlook gives a good sense of the company's earnings picture, but how the actual results compare to these estimates is a powerful factor that could impact its near-term stock price. The earnings report, which is expected to be released on October 24, 2018, might help the stock move higher if these key numbers are better than expectations.

  • Business
    CNBC

    Walmart saves $200 million by changing its light bulbs and $20 million with a new floor wax

    Walmart says switching to LED lights in its parking lots cut its annual energy costs by $200 million. A change in the floor wax it uses cut costs by $20 million a year because the floors need to be buffed less often. It's exactly what Walmart WMT is doing.

  • Better Buy: The Home Depot, Inc. vs. Lowe's
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Better Buy: The Home Depot, Inc. vs. Lowe's

    Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) have helped countless homeowners increase the value of their homes. They've also made many investors rich. With their shares having soared 879% and 484%, respectively, over the past decade, Home Depot and Lowe

  • Housing Stocks Tumble Midday; Home Depot Dents Dow
    Finance
    Investing.com

    Housing Stocks Tumble Midday; Home Depot Dents Dow

    Investing.com - Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and other housing-leveraged stocks fell in midday trading following disappointing data on home construction. Home Depot fell about 4.2% at 12:08 PM ET (16:08 GMT) and was a drag on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

  • Finance
    InvestorPlace

    Something’s Wrong With the Netflix Stock Price

    NFLX stock is up less than 5% in Wednesday’s session, after being up nearly 10% before the market opened. For all the noise about Netflix’s cash flow or earnings multiples, the story behind NFLX stock is all about subscribers, as I’ve written several times. A subscriber beat in the third quarter and strong guidance for Q4 seems to alleviate the worries that led the Netflix stock price down double-digits after a disappointing Q2 report.

  • AT&T (T) Q3 Earnings Preview: How Are Events Shaping Up?
    Business
    Zacks

    AT&T (T) Q3 Earnings Preview: How Are Events Shaping Up?

    The market expects AT&T (T) to deliver a year-over-year increase in earnings on higher revenues when it reports results for the quarter ended September 2018. This widely-known consensus outlook is important in assessing the company's earnings picture, but a powerful factor that might influence its near-term stock price is how the actual results compare to these estimates. The stock might move higher if these key numbers top expectations in the upcoming earnings report, which is expected to be released on October 24.

  • GE to pay penalty if falls short of French job pledges: ministry
    Business
    Reuters

    GE to pay penalty if falls short of French job pledges: ministry

    General Electric's new CEO told France's finance minister on Wednesday that it would stick to his predecessor's French job pledges or pay a penalty, the Finance Ministry said. Former CEO John Flannery warned French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in June that the target was "out of reach", and the government raised the possibility of fines worth 50,000 euros ($57,570) for each job not created. GE's new CEO Larry Culp, who took up his post at the start of the month, told Le Maire in a meeting on Wednesday that France remained a strategic country for the company, the ministry said in statement.

  • Business
    Benzinga

    Kinder Morgan's Q3 Earnings Preview

    Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI) will be releasing its next round of earnings Wednesday. For all of the relevant information, here is your guide for the Q3 earnings announcement. Earnings and Revenue Analysts expect Kinder Morgan earnings of 21 cents per share

  • Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Where Will NVIDIA Be in 5 Years?

    At one time, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) floated under the radar in the technology sector. Its graphics processing units (GPUs) were then niche tech products that appealed mainly to graphic artists and hardcore PC gamers, but that all changed over the last

  • Nvidia (NVDA) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know
    Business
    Zacks

    Nvidia (NVDA) Dips More Than Broader Markets: What You Should Know

    Heading into today, shares of the maker of graphics chips for gaming and artificial intelligence had lost 9.29% over the past month, lagging the Computer and Technology sector's loss of 4.86% and the S&P 500's loss of 3.08% in that time. Meanwhile, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenue is projecting net sales of $3.25 billion, up 23.44% from the year-ago period. As a result, we can interpret positive estimate revisions as a good sign for the company's business outlook.

  • Kinder Morgan Canada's profit surges on TransMountain sale
    Business
    Reuters

    Kinder Morgan Canada's profit surges on TransMountain sale

    The company said on Wednesday it expects to return about C$1.2 billion ($921.5 million) or C$11.40 per restricted voting share from the sale to its shareholders. Its parent, U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc, closed the sale of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline to the Canadian government for C$4.5 billion in August. Kinder Morgan Canada said net income rose to C$1.35 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, from C$42.4 million, a year earlier.

  • Steven Mnuchin, Who Sat on Sears' Board for Years, Could Impact the Pensions of Thousands of Workers
    Business
    Fortune

    Steven Mnuchin, Who Sat on Sears' Board for Years, Could Impact the Pensions of Thousands of Workers

    Long before he was Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin was a student at Yale University. One of those was Eddie Lampert. Lampert, of course, is the recently departed CEO of Sears Holdings, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.