Warren Buffett is widely regarded as one of the greatest stock investors that the world has ever seen. His investing prowess is legendary as he has turned many early investors in Berkshire Hathaway into millionaires. Investors would be willing to pay a pretty penny to delve into the mind of Buffett. If you had the opportunity to pick the brains of Buffett, here are a few of the questions that should be asked and what history he might base his answers on. (To learn more about Warren Buffet, check out Warren Buffett: How He Does It.)
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Do you think that Berkshire Hathaway will ever pay a dividend under your watch?
Warren Buffett has had a long time policy of not ever paying a dividend on the company's Class A shares or splitting the stock. Buffett has aimed to keep the stock a core holding of long term investors only. Buffett's most recent statements however have hinted at a softening of his position. Berkshire would attract a lot more interest from the investing public if the company did begin paying dividends. Does Buffett think that a dividend payment is possible while he is at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway?
Where do you see the next major bubble occurring?
Warren Buffett is well known for his ability to prognosticate on stocks and economic events. Back in 2003, Buffett shrewdly called derivatives "financial weapons of mass destruction." Warren Buffett also wisely predicted a huge bubble forming in residential real estate back in 2005. Both of those calls were on the money as the markets plunged and lots of companies were taken under by those markets. You can be sure that there is a bubble forming in some market right now and it would be great to get his take on the next asset class that will blow up. An investor could avoid that asset class altogether or make some cash by shorting it.
Has Buffett added any new criteria to his stock selection process?
Every investor knows that Buffett likes to buy stocks that are trading at a discount to their true value. He is also a fan of companies that have strong earnings and produce lots of cash flow. Buffett adopted his investment philosophy from his mentor, Benjamin Graham and tweaked it to suit his needs. While Buffett is generous with much of his investing knowledge, there is certain investing information that he keeps to himself. It would be interesting to find out however what new criteria that Buffett has added to his investing selection process over the past decade or so.
What country is the best investment market for the next 40 years?
Warren Buffett built the bulk of his fortune by having the foresight to invest domestically at a time when the American economy was booming. Buffett used the American entrepreneurial engine to generate annual returns of over 20% for 40 years. There is still growth in the United States but the returns of the market over the next 40 years are not likely to be as high as they were during the previous 40 years. If Buffett was a young investor looking to get into the market, what market would he look at? Are the best bets still the big developed countries or are the smaller emerging companies the best long term plays for decades to come?
What is the biggest investing success that you ever had?
Buffett is candid in his responses when it comes to explaining his failures in business but he is extremely modest when it comes to tooting his own horn about his investing successes. It would be great to hear Buffett expound his biggest investing triumph and all of the details that went into that purchase. An investor could glean a lot by hearing about the most successful stock pick or acquisition that Warren Buffett ever made.
The Bottom Line
As you can see a novice and experienced alike could become a much better investor just by having the chance to ask a few questions from an investing great. (To invest like Buffett, read What Is Warren Buffett's Investing Style?)