Billionaire Investor Charlie Munger Dies Aged 99

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
November 28, 2023Business News
Billionaire Investor Charlie Munger Dies Aged 99
Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger, attends the annual Berkshire shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb., on May 3, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Charlie Munger, the second-in-command to Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, has died at the age of 99, according to his family.

Mr. Munger died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Nov. 28 at a California hospital, members of his family told Berkshire Hathaway, which announced news of his passing.

Famous for the quote “all I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there,” Mr. Munger was the longtime vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway, the $355 billion conglomerate founded by Mr. Buffett.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Mr. Buffett said in a statement.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1924, Mr. Munger enrolled in the University of Michigan during the Second World War to study mathematics but soon dropped out to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he trained as a meteorologist and was promoted to second lieutenant.

Later, he studied at Harvard Law School, graduating in 1948 magna cum laude and went on to work as a real estate attorney, founding the California law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson.

In 1959, Mr. Munger met Mr. Buffett, who encouraged him to give up law to focus on investment management, which Mr. Munger did, running his own investment firm for a number of years.

Mr. Munger joined Berkshire Hathaway in the 1970s and, by 1978, had become vice chair of the company.

Forbes estimates that, as of Nov. 28, Mr. Munger’s personal fortune stood at about $2.6 billion.

NTD Photo
Warren Buffett (L), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and vice chairman Charlie Munger attend the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Neb., on May 3, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Cigar-Butt’ Investing

Much like Mr. Buffett, he was known as a pragmatic investor who sought good deals when scouting for great businesses to buy.

However, Mr. Buffett would later say that it was Mr. Munger who showed him that paying bottom dollar for troubled businesses that had many flaws—which Mr. Buffett called “cigar-butt” investing—wasn’t worthwhile in the end.

“If you buy a stock at a sufficiently low price, there will usually be some hiccup in the fortunes of the business that gives you a chance to unload at a decent profit, even though the long-term performance of the business may be terrible,” Mr. Buffett wrote in a 1989 letter to shareholders.

“I call this the ‘cigar butt’ approach to investing,” he continued. “A cigar butt found on the street that has only one puff left in it may not offer much of a smoke, but the ‘bargain purchase’ will make that puff all profit.”

However, Mr. Buffett said it was Mr. Munger who taught him that this kind of approach to buying businesses was “foolish.”

“It took Charlie Munger to break my cigar-butt habits and set the course for building a business that could combine huge size with satisfactory profits,” Mr. Buffett wrote in a 2015 letter to shareholders.

He praised Mr. Munger for his “wide-ranging brilliance, a prodigious memory, and some firm opinions,” while saying that “Charlie’s most important architectural feat was the design of today’s Berkshire.”

“The blueprint he gave me was simple: Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices,” Mr. Buffett wrote.

Mr. Munger is known for clever advice about investing.

“The great investors are always very careful. They think things through. They take their time. They’re calm. They’re not in a hurry. They don’t get excited. They just go after the facts, and they figure out the value. And that’s what we try to do,” reads one quote attributed to Mr. Munger.

From The Epoch Times

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