Collection: Warren Buffett - #69 | View on Pharmaceutical Stocks



[Transcript]

AUDIENCE MEMBER

Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger, my name’s Will Jacks. (PH) I’m from Chicago, and I’m a happy shareholder. I, first, want to thank both of you for the unusual privilege you give us for your time and your expertise. This is very unusual. And I think it’s to be commended. (Applause) And my question has to do with one of the major American industries that, unless I missed something in the reading, that is the pharmaceutical industry, the companies that make medicines. I wonder under what circumstances you might consider those industries for investment by Berkshire Hathaway? WARREN BUFFETT

Well, those industries — the pharmaceutical industry’s, obviously, been a terrific industry to invest in. We have trouble, or at least I have trouble, distinguishing among the companies, in terms of seeing which ones, ten years from now, might be the best ones to be in. I mean, it’s easy for me to figure out that Coca-Cola’s the soft drink company to be in, or Gillette is the shaving company to be in, or Disney’s the entertainment company to be in, than it is for me to figure out which one in the pharmaceutical. But that — I’m not saying you can’t do it. I’m just saying that that’s difficult for me. We have — we started buying one of them a couple of years ago. And we should’ve continued, but we didn’t because it went up an eighth, and — (Laughter) Your chairman was a little reluctant to follow it, a terrible mistake. But I would say the biggest — and we could’ve bought the whole industry and done very well at various times, particularly when the threat of — what people thought was the threat of the Clinton health program cast a big cloud over the pharmaceutical industry. That was the time you could’ve just bought the whole industry and done very well. We didn’t do it. It was a mistake. Charlie? CHARLIE MUNGER

Well, it’s hard to think of any industry that’s done more good for consumers, generally. When you think of the way children used to die and now, they very seldom die. And it’s been a fabulous business. And it’s been one of the glories of American civilization. But it’s — we’ve admired it. But we haven’t been part of it. WARREN BUFFETT

We’ve missed a lot of things. And I’m dead serious about that. And we’ve missed things that should not have been beyond our capacity to grasp. A lot of things that should be beyond our capacity to grasp, but there’s some that haven’t been. And we’ve just plain missed them.

Zone 1?


(Source: https://buffett.cnbc.com/1997-berkshire-hathaway-annual-meeting/)

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[YAPSS Takeaway]

Identify the market leader of an industry.