Buffett and Munger:How to Catch Best Investment Opportunities when 5G is Coming?

In this year Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, a question was brought up: 5G is coming. It is said that the mode of all industry will be challenged in 5G era. So, what is the core competence that we should master, if (unintelligible) wants to catch the best investment opportunities in this era. 

However, Warren Buffett didn’t give a straight answer for 5G, instead, he stressed about many changes in the past, and how to adapt.

Let’s see how Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger has answered:

WARREN BUFFETT: Well, there’s no core competence at the very top of Berkshire. (Laughter)

The subsidiaries that will be involved in developments relating to 5G, or any one of all kinds of things that are going to happen in this world, you know, the utility of LNG in the railroad, or all those kinds of questions, we have people in those businesses that know a lot more about them than we do.

And we count on our managers to anticipate what is coming in their business. And sometimes they talk to us about it. But we do not run that on a centralized basis.

And Charlie, do you want to have anything to add to that?

Do you know anything about 5G I don’t know? Well, you probably know a lot about 5G.

CHARLIE MUNGER: No, I know very little about 5G.

But I do know a little about China. And we have bought things in China. And my guess is we’ll buy more. (Laughter)

WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. But I mean, we basically want to have a group of managers, and we do have a group of managers, who are on top of their businesses.

I mean, you saw something that showed BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Lubrizol all aware of that. Those people know their businesses. They know what changes are likely to be had.

Sometimes, they find things that they can cooperate on between their businesses. But we don’t try to run those from headquarters.

And that may mean — that may have certain weaknesses at certain times. I think, net, it’s been a terrific benefit for Berkshire.

Our managers, to a great degree, own their businesses. And we want them to feel a sense of ownership. We don’t want them to be lost in some massive conglomerate, where they get directions from this group, which is a subgroup of that group.

And I could tell you a few horror stories from companies we bought, when they tell us about their experience under such an operation.

The world is going to change in dramatic ways. Just think how much it’s changed in the 54 years that we’ve had Berkshire. And some of those changes hurt us.

They hurt us in textiles. They hurt us in shoes. They hurt us in the department store business. Hurt us in the trading stamp business. These were the founding businesses of this operation. But we do adjust. And we’ve got a group, overall, of very good businesses.

We’ve got some that will be, actually, destroyed by what happens in this world. But that’s — I still am the card-carrying capitalist. And I believe that that’s a good thing, but you have to make changes.

We had 80 percent of the people working on farms in 1800. And if there hadn’t been a lot of changes, and you needed 80 percent of the people in the country producing the food and cotton we needed, we would have a whole different society.

So, we welcome change. And we certainly want to have managers that can anticipate and adapt to it. But sometimes, we’ll be wrong. And those businesses will wither and die. And we’d better use the money someplace else. Charlie? OK, Carol.

Charlie, you haven’t had any peanut brittle lately, you know. (Laughs)

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