One of the most brilliant minds in investing has passed away.
Charlie Munger, who served as Warren Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway, died at age 99.
While he was known as “Buffett’s guy,” Munger made a fortune long before he ever partnered up with Buffett.
Legend is Gone
Munger would have turned 100 on New Year’s Day had he managed to hold on just a bit longer, but it was not to be.
According to his family, Munger passed away peacefully at a California hospital on Tuesday.
Munger was extremely successful in the investment world, which is why Buffett wanted him to join him at Berkshire Hathaway.
On his passing, Buffett stated, “Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom, and participation.”
Munger’s resume is quite impressive, also including real estate attorney, chairman and publisher of the Daily Journal Corp., a member of the Costco board, a philanthropist, and an architect.
His fortune was estimated at $2.3 billion earlier this year, which is a far cry from what Buffet is worth (an estimated $100 billion) but still quite impressive.
Munger could be spotted easily, with very thick glasses due to the fact he lost an eye after cataract surgery in 1980.
He served as chairman and CEO of Wesco Financial from 1984 to 2011, when Buffett purchased the remaining shares of the company.
It was Munger, according to Buffett, who encouraged him to swoop in to invest in struggling companies at very low prices in the hopes they would turn things around and gain a huge profit rather than paying extremely high prices.
They still focused on high-quality companies, just ones that were undervalued due to certain conditions.
An example that paid off huge was See’s Candies, which was purchased for $25 million, even though it only had annual pretax earnings of about $4 million.
Since its sale, it has produced more than $2 billion in sales for Buffett’s company.
In May 2016, Buffett explained his influence, stating, “He weaned me away from the idea of buying very so-so companies at very cheap prices, knowing that there was some small profit in it, and looking for some really wonderful businesses that we could buy in fair prices.”
I doubt Munger will ever know the influence and impression he made on people, but he may be more revered than Buffett in private investment circles.
Rest in peace, sir.