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Warren Buffett Turns 90: A Highlight For Each Decade Of His Life

Chris Katje

Legendary investor Warren Buffett was born in 1930. The “Oracle of Omaha” turns 90 on August 30 and has lived through 10 decades now.

Buffett has been one of the greatest investors of the last six decades and remains the active chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A)(NYSE: BRK-B). This article will showcase a highlight from each decade of Buffett’s personal and investment career.

1930: Warren Buffett was born Aug. 30, 1930. His father Howard was a former stockbroker, which would have a huge influence on Buffett’s decision to get involved with the business.

1940: Buffett purchased his first stock at the age of 11. The purchase was for three shares of Cities Service Preferred, a natural gas company. Buffett bought the shares at $38 only to see them soon drop to $27 each. He waited until they hit $40 to sell for a profit. Shares later hit $200 each, which Buffett has since cited as a lesson on patience in investing.

1950: Despite his growing wealth, Buffett has lived in the same house in Nebraska, Omaha since 1958. The home was purchased for $31,500. Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of over $282,000 today.

1960: By the year 1965, Buffett had assumed control of textiles company Berkshire Hathaway thanks to acquiring 49%. He became a director of the company and would work on gaining full control and also diversifying the company away from textiles.

1970: Warren Buffett became the author of the annual Berkshire Hathaway letters in the 1970s. These letters are considered must-reads for investors and every year, what Buffett writes to shareholders is analyzed with great detail. The letters include explanations for investments or why items were sold. The letters also include life lessons and memorable quotes from the “Oracle of Omaha.”

1980: In 1988, Buffett started accumulating shares of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) for Berkshire Hathaway. After several large purchases, Berkshire Hathaway owned 7% of the company worth $1.02 billion. Buffett has a long history with Coca-Cola, once selling bottles for a penny profit. Berkshire Hathaway still owns 800 million shares of KO, worth nearly $18 billion.

1990: Geico insurance has been one of the biggest pieces for Berkshire Hathaway since it acquired full control in the 1990s. Berkshire acquired the insurance company by buying out the 49% it did not own up until this point. Buffett had been an investor of Geico shares dating back to 1951. Benjamin Graham, Buffett’s mentor and professor, was once the chairman of Geico. The insurance company is forever linked to two of the most well-known investors.

2000: The 2000s represented a great period of fortune and giving for Warren Buffett. In 2008, Buffett became the richest man in the world, with Forbes valuing his wealth at $62 billion. Buffett took over the top spot from Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) founder Bill Gates, who had held the number one position for thirteen consecutive years. Buffett pledged in 2006 to give away the majority of his wealth after his death, including 85% to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

2010: Berkshire Hathaway started buying stock in Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in 2016. Buffett has since admitted he wishes he would have bought shares earlier. “It’s probably the best business I know in the world,” Buffett told CNBC. Berkshire bought shares of Apple again throughout the decade to make it one of the biggest pieces of the investment portfolio. “I don’t think of Apple as a stock. I think of it as a third business,” Buffett told CNBC referring to Apple being the company’s third-biggest holding behind Geico and railroad interests.

2020: Warren Buffett showed an investor lesson when he sold out of his stake in the big four airlines. Buffett, a longtime vocal non-supporter of buying airline stocks, sold his stake worth around $7 billion at a loss. He ditched his stakes in American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), and United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) believing passenger numbers would not recover after the pandemic. He also cited carriers could be left with too many planes and would be hurt financially due to government loans.

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