ASX investors: Have you read the little book that changed Warren Buffett's life forever?

Just like most of us investing in ASX shares today, Warren Buffett learned from the great investors who came before him.

Young male with glasses holding book in front of his face with a surprised expression, indicating a share price movement.

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Key points

  • Warren Buffett has amassed a personal fortune of some AU$173 billion
  • The Oracle of Omaha wasn’t born knowing everything there is to know about stock markets
  • Buffett credits Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor with changing his life

When we think of Warren Buffett, we tend to think of a wise, older, super-successful billionaire investor.

Which, of course, is what he is today.

Aged 92, seven years younger than his right-hand man Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett has amassed a personal fortune in excess of US$115 billion (AU$173 billion).

And under his stewardship and focus on value investing, Berkshire Hathaway has an admirable record of long-term outperformance.

But the Oracle of Omaha wasn't born with all that investing acumen.

Just like most of us investing in ASX stocks today, he learned from the great investors who preceded him.

The little book Warren Buffett says changed his life

The book that changed his life is called The Intelligent Investor.

As you'd expect, it wasn't written recently.

In fact, it came out in 1949, penned by the "father of value investing", US economist Benjamin Graham.

Although Warren Buffett first read it long ago, he still credits Graham for inspiring his own value investing methods. For the past many decades, he's been well known for buying companies that are trading for less than their true worth.

"Never overpay for anything," he says.

In his early years, he was so impressed with The Intelligent Investor that he studied under Graham, a professor at Columbia Business School. In the following years, he went to work for Graham at the investment company Graham-Newman.

And he still gives credit to Graham today.

At the Berkshire shareholder meeting in early May, Warren Buffett said The Intelligent Investor is a "little book that changed my life".

"Everybody keeps bringing out new books and saying a lot of other things, but they aren't saying anything that's as important as what he said in 1949 in this relatively thin, little book," he said of Graham's book.

As ASX investors in 2023, we can learn from Graham, and we can learn from Buffett.

That means looking for stocks at a great price and keeping them in our portfolio for the long term. And it means we shouldn't get spooked by any short-term market downturns. In fact, these often can present some great buying opportunities.

As Warren Buffett says, "Our favourite holding period is forever."

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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