Ground Rule No.6 (from our November packet) says: “I am not in the business of predicting general stock market or business fluctuations.If you think I can do this, or think it is essential to an investment program, you should not be in the partnership.”
Of course, this rule can be attacked as fuzzy, complex, ambiguous, vague, etc. Nevertheless, I think the point is well understood by the great majority of our partners. We don't buy and sell stocks based upon what other people think the stock market is going to do (I never have an opinion) but rather upon what we think the company is going to do. The course of the stock market will determine, to a great degree, when we will be right, but the accuracy of our analysis of the company will largely determine whether we will be right. In other words, we tend to concentrate on what should happen, not when it should happen.
当 然这条原则会被人批评是模糊、复杂、含混、不清楚。但是，我认为大多数合伙人都非常理解这一原则。我们不根据其他人所认为的股票市场将如何表现（我从来对 此没有意见）而买入和卖出。我们根据我们认为公司将如何表现而买入和卖出。股票市场的进程将很大程度上决定我们何时会正确。而我们对公司分析的精确程度将 主要决定我们是否正确。换句话说，我们倾向于集中精力分析什么能发生，而不是何时能发生。 （1966年上半年给合伙人的信） I resurrect this "market-guessing" section only because after the Dow declined from 995 at the peak in February to about 865 in May, I received a few calls from partners suggesting that they thought stocks were going a lot lower. This always raises two questions in my mind: (1) if they knew in February that the Dow was going to 865 in May, why didn't they let me in on it then; and, (2)if they didn't know what was going to happen during the ensuing three months back in February, how do they know in May? There is also a voice or two after any hundred point or so decline suggesting we sell and wait until the future is clearer. Let me again suggest two points: (1) the future has never been clear to me (give us a call when the next few months are obvious to you – or, for that matter the next few hours); and, (2) no one ever seems to call after the market has gone up one hundred points to focus my attention on how unclear everything is, even though the view back in February doesn't look so clear in retrospect. 我把“猜测市场”这部分又重新提出来是因为道指从2月份995点的高峰跌到5月的865点，之后我接到了几个合伙人的电话，认为股票还将继续下跌很多。这总会在我脑海里引发两个问题：（1）如果他们在2月份知道，道指将在5月份跌到865点，为什么当时他们不阻止我投资。而且（2）如果他们不知道2月份之后接下来的三个月将发生什么，他们怎么知道5月之后将发生什么？也有几个人在道指大跌百点后建议我们卖出，等待未来更加清晰后再行动。让我再次建议两点：（1）对我来说，未来从没有清晰过（如果未来几个月对你非常显而易见，给我们打个电话，在接下来的几个小时就打）（2）在市场上涨百点后没人给我打电话，让我注意任何事情都是不清晰的，即使回过头来看2月份的情形其实并不清晰。 （1966年上半年给合伙人的信） 十年总结 从10万到5千万，巴菲特的第一个10年是幸运的。他的投资哲学得到了实践，个人财富也大大增长，成为了一个有经验的成功投资人。但是，随着规模的扩大，投资变得越来越难，好的投资想法则越来越少。即便如此，巴菲特还是坚守自己的原则，不随波逐流。 The results of the first ten years have absolutely no chance of being duplicated or even remotely approximated during the next decade. They may well be achieved by some hungry twenty-five year old working with $105,100 initial partnership capital and operating during a ten year business and market environment which is frequently conducive to successful implementation of his investment philosophy. 第一个10年的结果，在下一个10年绝对无法复制，甚至连接近都不可能。这些结果完全有可能由一个25岁，充满渴望，却只有10万5千100美元初始资金的年轻人取得。而且还得有10年常常是有助于成功实施他的投资哲学的商业和市场环境。
They will not be achieved by a better fed thirty-six year old working with our $54,065,345 current partnership capital who presently finds perhaps one-fifth to one-tenth as many really good ideas as previously to implement his investment philosophy.
Buffett Associates. Ltd. (predecessor to Buffett Partnership. Ltd.) was founded on the west banks of the Missouri. May 5. 1956 by a hardy little band consisting of four family members, three close friends and $105,100. (I tried to find some brilliant flash of insight regarding our future or present conditions from my first page and a half annual letter of January, 1957 to insert as a quote here. However, someone evidently doctored my file copy so as to remove the perceptive remarks I must have made.)
At that time, and for some years subsequently, there were substantial numbers of securities selling at well below the "value to a private owner" criterion we utilized for selection of general market investments. We also experienced a flow of “workout” opportunities where the percentages were very much to our liking. The problem was always which, not what. Accordingly, we were able to own fifteen to twenty-five issues and be enthusiastic about the probabilities inherent in all holdings.
In the last few years this situation has changed dramatically. We now find very few securities that are understandable to me, available in decent size, and which offer the expectation of investment performance meeting our yardstick of ten percentage points per annum superior to the Dow. In the last three years we have come up with only two or three new ideas a year that have had such an expectancy of superior performance. Fortunately, in some cases, we have made the most of them. However, in earlier years, a lesser effort produced literally dozens of comparable opportunities. It is difficult to be objective about the causes for such diminution of one's own productivity. Three factors that seem apparent are: (1) a somewhat changed market environment; (2) our increased size; and (3)substantially more competition.
It is obvious that a business based upon only a trickle of fine ideas has poorer prospects than one based upon a steady flow of such ideas. To date the trickle has provided as much financial nourishment as the flow. This is true because there is only so much one can digest(million dollar ideas are of no great benefit to thousand dollar bankaccounts - this was impressed on me in my early days) and because a limited number of ideas causes one to utilize those available more intensively. The latter factor has definitely been operative with us in recent years. However, a trickle has considerably more chance of drying up completely than a flow.
显然，一个只是基于涓涓细流式的好想法的生意，其前景比不上有着源源不断的稳定的好 想法的生意。到今天为止，这涓涓细流提供了与滚滚洪流一样的财务营养。这只是因为一个人的消化能力有限（百万美元的想法对只有一千美元的银行账户没什么益 处—这在早期我深有体会）而且正是因为想法有限，才会尽量充分利用这些现有的想法。在最近几年，我们一直在充分利用有限的投资想法。但是，涓涓细流与滚滚 洪流相比，有更大的可能完全枯竭。
These conditions will not cause me to attempt investment decisions outside my sphere of understanding (I don't go for the "If you can'tlick 'em, join 'em” philosophy - my own leaning is toward "If you can't join ‘em, lick 'em”). We will not go into businesses where technology which is away over my head is crucial to the investment decision. I know about as much about semi-conductors or integrated circuits as I do of the mating habits of the chrzaszcz.(That's a Polish May bug, students - if you have trouble pronouncing it, rhyme it with thrzaszcz.)
Furthermore, we will not follow the frequently prevalent approach of investing insecurities where an attempt to anticipate market action overrides business valuations. Such so-called "fashion" investing has frequently produced very substantial and quick profits in recent years (and currently as I write this in January). It represents an investment technique whose soundness I can neither affirm nor deny. It does not completely satisfy my intellect (or perhaps my prejudices), and most definitely does not fit my temperament. I will not invest my own money based upon such an approach hence, I will most certainly not do so with your money.
Finally, we will not seek out activity in investment operations, even if offering splendid profit expectations, where major human problems appear to have a substantial chance of developing.
What I do promise you, as partners, is that I will work hard to maintain the trickle of ideas and try to get the most out of it that is possible – but if it should dry up completely, you will be informed honestly and promptly so that we may all take alternative action.
The sort of concentration we have in this category is bound to produce wide swings in short term performance – some, most certainly, unpleasant. There have already been some of these applicable to shorter time spans than I use in reporting to partners. This is one reason I think frequent reporting to be foolish and potentially misleading in a long term oriented business such as ours.
Personally, within the limits expressed in last year's letter on diversification, I am willing to trade the pains (forget about the pleasures) of substantial short term variance in exchange for maximization of long term performance. However, I am not willing to incur risk of substantial permanent capital loss in seeking to better long term performance. To be perfectly clear - under our policy of concentration of holdings, partners should be completely prepared for periods of substantial underperformance (far more likely in sharply rising markets) to offset the occasional over performance such as we have experienced in 1965 and 1966, and as a price we pay for hoped-for good long term performance.
从个人来讲，在去年的信中所说的极限之内，我愿意用短期波动带来的痛苦（忘记快乐 吧）来换取长期的业绩。但是，我不会承担资本金重大永久损失的风险来换取更高的长期业绩。必须明确指出，在我们目前的集中重仓持有的策略下，为了我们所希 望的好的长期业绩，合伙人必须完全准备好迎接业绩严重不佳（在暴涨的牛市更有可能）的时期，虽然我们偶尔也会有像1965和1966年这样的好业绩。
All this talk about the long pull has caused one partner to observe that“even five minutes is a long time if one's head is being held underwater." This is the reason, of course, that we use borrowed money very sparingly in our operation. Average bank borrowings during 1966 were well under 10% of average net worth.