Warren Buffett is a remarkable investor. He’s grown his business, Berkshire Hathaway, from a failing textile company into a multinational conglomerate with stakes in Geico, Apple and Coca-Cola.
But it’s his folksy persona and penchant for packaging investing advice in witty, pithy or colorful turns of phrase that has cemented his status as “the Oracle of Omaha.”
Buffett has dropped countless gems of wisdom over the years, but the following seven quotes offer investors particularly timely advice on how to invest in stocks today.
1. Beware of inflation (it’s heating up)
“Inflation acts as a gigantic corporate tapeworm. That tapeworm preemptively consumes its requisite daily diet of investment dollars regardless of the health of the host organism. Regardless of a company’s profits, it has to spend more on receivables, inventory, and fixed assets to simply equal the unit volume of the previous year.”
Buffett offered this colorful image back in his 1981 annual letter to shareholders. The billionaire investor described high inflation as a “tax on capital” that dissuades corporate investment.
With inflation steadily on the rise, hitting highs not seen in close to a decade-and-a-half, investors might want to think about assets that are immune (or at least not as vulnerable) to the ravages of rising costs.
One example other billionaires like Bill Gates have taken to recently is investing in farmland. Agriculture offers steady, reliable returns — whatever the state of the economy, people still need to eat.
Other assets that have historically done well during periods of high inflation include gold and real estate.
2. Don’t follow the herd
“Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.”
According to a Bank of America report in April, a whopping $576 billion went into stock-based funds from November 2020 to March 2021 — trouncing the combined $452 billion inflows seen in the 12 years prior.
Whether you’re new to investing or you’ve been at it for ages, going against the grain is often the prudent thing to do.
As we’ve seen with the meme stock fiascos of late, blindly following the crowd often leads to disastrous results. Instead of focusing on what’s popular, try to prioritize safety and stability.
If you’re not confident about picking your own investments, an excellent tool for those still sharpening their eye for stocks is an investing app powered by technology. With some guidance based on your risk tolerance and return objectives, you can build a diversified portfolio that matches your specific needs.
3. Prepare your portfolio for anything
“[T]he biggest thing you learn is that the pandemic was bound to occur, and this isn’t the worst one that’s imaginable at all. Society has a terrible time preparing for things that are remote but are possible and will occur sooner or later.”
In an interview earlier this summer with CNBC, Buffett reflected on his biggest takeaway from the pandemic: how ill-prepared society is to handle emergencies that it knows will happen sooner or later.
COVID, he points out, had an “extremely uneven” impact on different members of society. While we will certainly be faced with another crisis in the future, it’s difficult to know exactly what that challenge will be.
As an investor, the simplest way to prepare for anything is through proper diversification. Spread your bets out as widely as possible.
Buffett is famously a fan of index funds and has previously said the best thing most investors can do is put their money in an S&P 500 index fund.
You may also want to work with a professional financial adviser to ensure you build a portfolio that can withstand the next calamity.
4. Volatility is part of the game
“The true investor welcomes volatility… a wildly fluctuating market means that irrationally low prices will periodically be attached to solid businesses.”
Investing is a roller-coaster ride.
Ups and downs are built into the experience. And no one knows with 100% certainty when, and for how long, those moves will come.
Invest long enough and you’ll find that there will be weeks, months, or even years that your portfolio produces nothing but losses.
But as Buffett explains in the above quote, those periods of decline offer tremendous opportunities to buy high-quality stocks at cheap prices. Investors who purchased stocks during the height of the COVID pandemic have profited handsomely. And, unfortunately, those who sold out to move their money to the sidelines are likely regretting their decision.
If you understand that volatility is the rule (and not the exception), prolonged dips and swings can actually work to your advantage.
5. If you want to buy Bitcoin, proceed with caution
“If you don’t understand it, you get much more excited than if you understand it. You can have anything you want to imagine if you just look at something and say, ‘that’s magic.’”
Buffett has never been shy about his disdain for cryptocurrency. Not only does he openly avoid investing in anything he doesn’t understand, but he’s also wary of a currency that his business partner Charlie Munger criticized as being “so useful to kidnappers and extortionists.”
While he said he would never buy Bitcoin, he famously refused to invest in Apple once upon a time — and now it’s one of Berkshire Hathaway’s largest stock holdings.
If you’re set on buying into Bitcoin, be sure to invest only what you can afford to lose. And, as Buffett told CNBC in 2018, remember that it’s not magic — so temper your expectations for returns.
From there, you’ll want to use an app that allows you to invest for free and to make buying crypto as easy as possible.
Meanwhile, if you make sure you’ve got a well-balanced portfolio of traditional investments, you’ll be able to enjoy the thrill of participating in the crypto trend while maintaining a moderate overall level of risk.
6. Focus on quality and value
“Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
Sure, frugality runs in Buffett’s blood. With a net worth of $100 billion, one of his favorite restaurants is still McDonald’s and has a card that grants him free breakfast at the fast-food chain — something he reportedly cashes in on often.
And who doesn’t love a good deal?
When it comes to stocks, Buffett is just as adamant about finding good bargains — especially of high-quality companies.
Even with a $140 billion war chest of cash, Buffett is never in a hurry to invest Berkshire Hathaway’s capital. Instead, he remains patient and only invests in good companies when they’re available on the cheap.
Create a watchlist of stable companies with reputable brands that you’d love invest in, and then wait for the chance to snap them up at discounted prices.
With the stock market continuing to trade near all-time highs and inflation becoming an issue, attractive bargain opportunities might present themselves sooner than you expect.
7. Think long-term — even if you have very little to invest
“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
No one spits out a fun turn of phrase like the Nebraska native.
But underneath the quip, Buffett has an important message to share: In investing, there’s no tool as powerful as time.
Studies have shown that investors are becoming increasingly impatient, zigzagging in and out of stocks in order to predict what the market will do next.
But instead of worrying about short-term gains, think long-term.
The most proven and time-tested way to build wealth in the stock market is to buy high-quality companies at good prices — and then hold them for the long haul.
You don’t have to have to be a billionaire like Buffett to make this strategy work for you. Some apps allow you to invest with just your “spare change”.
With enough time, discipline, and commitment to the principles that Buffett teaches, investment success is well within anyone’s reach.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.