Berkshire Hathaway Inc., An Owner’s Manual, Owner-Related Business Principles, January 1999
In June 1996, Berkshire ’s Chairman, Warren E. Buffett, issued a booklet entitled “An Owner’s Manual” to Berkshire’s Class A and Class B shareholders. The purpose of the manual was to explain Berkshire’s broad economic principles of operation. An updated version is reproduced on this and the following pages.
Owner-Related Business Principles
At the time of the Blue Chip merger in 1983, I set down 13 owner-related business principles that I thought would help new shareholders understand our managerial approach. As is appropriate for “principles,” all 13 remain alive and well today, and they are stated here.
1. Although our form is corporate, our attitude is partnership. Charlie Munger and I think of our shareholders as owner-partners, and of ourselves as managing partners. (Because of the size of our share-holdings we are also, for better or worse, controlling partners.) We do not view the company itself as the ultimate owner of our business assets but instead view the company as a conduit through which our shareholders own the assets.
Charlie and I hope that you do not think of yourself as merely owning a piece of paper whose price wiggles around daily and that is a candidate for sale when some economic or political event makes you nervous. We hope you instead visualize yourself as a part owner of a business that you expect to stay with indefinitely, much as you might if you ...