In his 1984 Berkshire Hathaway Letter, Warren Buffett discussed how to identify shareholder-conscious managements. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
The key word is “demonstrated”. A manager who consistently turns his back on repurchases, when these clearly are in the interests of owners, reveals more than he knows of his motivations.
No matter how often or how eloquently he mouths some public relations-inspired phrase such as “maximizing shareholder wealth” (this season’s favorite), the market correctly discounts assets lodged with him. His heart is not listening to his mouth – and, after a while, neither will the market.
We have prospered in a very major way – as have other shareholders – by the large share repurchases of GEICO, Washington Post, and General Foods, our three largest holdings. (Exxon, in which we have our fourth largest holding, has also wisely and aggressively repurchased shares but, in this case, we have only recently established our position.)
In each of these companies, shareholders have had their interests in outstanding businesses materially enhanced by repurchases made at bargain prices. We feel very comfortable owning interests in businesses such as these that offer excellent economics combined with shareholder-conscious managements.
You can read the entire letter here:
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