Picking Bottoms shouldn’t be an Investor’s Game

Warren Buffett at the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting:

Stocks got much cheaper in 1974 than they are now [in May 2009]. But you were also facing a different interest rate scenario. So you could say they really weren’t that much cheaper. You could buy very good companies at four times earnings or thereabouts with good prospects. But interest rates were far higher then. That was the best period I’ve ever seen for buying common equities. The country may not have been in as much trouble then as we were back in September. I don’t think it was. But stocks were somewhat cheaper then…. We don’t try to pick bottoms. We don’t have an opinion about where the stock market’s going to go tomorrow or next week or next month. So to sit around and not do something that’s sensible because you think there will be something even more attractive, that’s just not our approach to it. Anytime we get a chance to do something that makes sense, we do it. And if it makes even more sense the next day, and if we’ve got money, we may do more. And if we don’t—what can we do about it? So picking bottoms is basically not our game. Pricing is our game.

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