Experienced Investors: Older And Wiser, Or Just Older?

By Remi Alli | April 08, 2010 AAA
Experienced Investors: Older And Wiser, Or Just Older?


Experienced investors are known to utilize a keen eye and diverse financial knowledge to help them with their stock decisions. They often credit their success to being active in the business world and having an array of working relationships with fund managers and bankers. Still, even the most successful investors have made financially dire mistakes over the course of their professional career. While the stock market crash of 2008 will account for some of their losses, find out how some of the most famous investors have fared as they have aged.

In Pictures: Baby Buffett Portfolio: His 6 Best Long-Term Picks

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett made his first $1 million investment in a windmill-manufacturing company. It began with several Buffett partnerships, the first one starting with $105,000, and growing to over $104 million. These partnerships invested in shares of various companies. From1962 to the mid 1980s, Buffett turned around an unprofitable textile-manufacturing firm, Berkshire Hathaway, by investing first in shares and later buying companies through the firm. After merging all of his partnerships into one, he ultimately accumulated a multibillion-dollar wealth through stocks.

In 1988, Buffett audaciously purchased over $1 billion of Coca-Cola stock. Today, that investment has made him roughly $10 billion. In 2002, he entered into an $11 billion forward to deliver U.S. dollars and by 2006 the contract had gained $2 billion. With the calamity of Hurricane Katrina, Buffet reported financial losses in his reinsurance divisions.

In the last 10 years, Berkshire Hathaway stock has more than doubled (versus a fall of over 20% for the S&P 500 index). But it was in 2009 that Buffett's acquired his largest stock after buying out a Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26 billion.

In 2006, Buffet was worth $44 billion, in which he promised $31 billion of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and $6 billion to other charities, proving that not only is Buffett wiser, but good-hearted. (To learn more about Buffett's life, read Warren Buffett: The Road To Riches.)

Thomas Rowe Price, Jr.
The father of long-term investment strategies, Price gradually developed a strategy for the growth style of investing and saw its potential for superior returns earnings, going against traditional thought that the stock market was only for short-term risks.

A representative for T. Rowe Price stated in 2004 that in "periods of 10 years or longer, the advantages of hedging or not hedging tend to balance out." Looking at one of T Rowe Price's oldest funds, the Growth Stock Fund, it returned about 10.46% since its inception in 1950. However, in the last 10 years the fund has only averaged an annual return of 0.71%. Could this mean that Price is slowing down?

Price grew assets under management from $2.3 million in 1938 to $42 million in 1949 and to about $315 billion in 2009. (For more on Price's life and investing style, check out Thomas Rowe Price: Always Right.)

George Soros
Since the 1990s, Soros has been known as the "the man who broke the Bank of England" after reporting a profit of about $1 billion trading British pounds during the U.K currency crisis. Thus, he is considered a short-term speculator, making enormous bets on the financial markets, causing many losses but ultimately more gains.

In 2008, Soros bought an $811 million stake in Petroleo Brasileiro, making the up-and-coming Brazilian state-controlled oil company his investment fund's largest holding. While his investing style has led to many public-investing gaffes, his net worth has been estimated to be around $13 to $14 billion. So, Soros may not be breaking any more countries' banks, but he's still doing quite well. (Learn more about one of the world's greatest investors, read George Soros: The Philosophy Of An Elite Investor.)

Carl Icahn
Icahn, a self-made billionaire, began his career on Wall Street in the 1961 and formed Icahn & Co. only seven years later. In the 1980s, he began acquiring substantial positions in many well-known companies, including Texaco, Anadarko Petroleum and Motorola, which, although the latter is not doing as well as expected, Icahn continues to hold. Other investments in biotech investments, such as ImClone Systems and MedImmune, and acquiring and selling gambling and energy companies have done very well.

In 2009, his hedge fund, Icahn & Co., reported that its fund returned 32%, which was a huge turnaround from 2008, when the firm devalued by 35%. Forbes estimated Icahn's net worth at around $9 billion in 2009, although $2 billion of it is currently contested in a legal suit with hedge fund, Q Investments. From his recent returns in 2009, we can see that Icahn's still got it. (Learn more about Icahn's investment philosophy and the "Icahn lift" in Can You Invest Like Carl Icahn?)

Peter Lynch
Value investor Peter Lynch is an impressive fund manager, well known for time and again delivering high returns to investors.

When Lynch was managing Fidelity Magellan from 1977 to 1990 it averaged an annual return of 29%, beating the S&P 500 Index in 11 of those 13 years. Still, he remains practical. Lynch has said in the past, "In this business if you're good, you're right six times out of 10 ... I've had stocks go from $11 to 7 cents."

Estimated to be worth $352 million in 2006, now-retired Lynch has come a long way from his first $1,000 invested in a company called the Flying Tiger while in college, which appreciated approximately 10 times, or his first "tenbagger," Lynch's self-coined term.

Conclusion
Experienced investors such as Buffett and Lynch are driven and, despite any apparent differences between them, strategic investors. Many successful investors are known to buy companies they believe are undervalued, and sell them only when it seems appropriate - or in Buffett's case, they hold them "forever". Others, such as Soros, are known to buy or sell stocks on a gut feeling. When looking at this list of the great investors, nearly all of them are still raking in money. Despite the hits they may have taken during the 2007-2009 recession, these experienced investors have become even wiser with age.

If you're still feeling uninformed, check out last week's business highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Auto Hope, Bubbling Oil and Obamanomics.

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