Happy birthday Warren Buffett: Legendary investor’s rise from a newspaper boy to emperor of stock markets

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Updated: Aug 30, 2018 1:23 PM

Warren Buffett considered as a stock market icon turns 88 today. We take a look at the legendary investor's rise from a newspaper boy to become emperor of stock markets.

In 1962, Warren Buffett finally took control of Berkshire Hathaway, which today owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, and battery maker Duracell.

Warren Buffett, considered as a stock market icon turns 88 today. The legendary billionaire investor, who started from very humble beginnings including delivering newspapers while still in high school is now the world’s third richest person, and is worth a whopping $87.2 billion, according to Forbes’ Real Time Net Worth. How did Warren Buffett go on to become the stock market icon we know him as today?

Born in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska, Warren Buffett’s tryst with the stock market began when he was just 11 years old. “I’d been interested in the stock market since the time I was 11, when I spent sometime watching the market and marking the board at Harris Upham, a New York Stock exchange firm that was in the same building as my dad’s firm, Buffett-Falk & Company,” Buffett told author Janet Lowe once.

Interestingly, at an age where many others wouldn’t be aware of tax brackets, Warren Buffett filed his first income tax return, aged 14. On his first income tax return in 1944, Buffett took a $35 deduction for the use of his bicycle and watch on his paper route.

Buffett learnt in the stock market very quickly. At age 11, he purchased three shares of Cities Services Preferred at $38 per share. Despite a price drop to $27, a young Warren Buffett held on to the shares and sold them as soon as they reached $40. Soon, Cities Services Preferred stock soared to nearly $200 per share. The experience taught the Oracle of Omaha an important financial lesson: Buy right and sit tight. Warren Buffett is often quoted as saying, “I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

Interestingly, Buffett had been rejected by Harvard Business School. He then enrolled at Columbia Business School of Columbia University upon learning that Benjamin Graham taught there. Buffett has very often expressed his gratefulness to his mentor — Benjamin Graham.

In 1962, Warren Buffett finally took control of Berkshire Hathaway, which today owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen. Interestingly, nearly 94% of Warren Buffett’s total wealth came after he completed 60 years. When he was 60 years old, Buffett was worth about $3.8 billion. In 2008, he went on to become the world’s richest man with $62 billion in net worth.

Despite amassing such humongous wealth, Warren Buffett continues to impress the world with his humble ways. He lives in a very modest home which he bought for $31,000 in 1958 and he today calls it the best investment he ever made. As Warren Buffett once put it, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Notably, Warren Buffett has also  committed to giving more than 99% of his fortune to charity. So far he has given away nearly $32 billion, much of it to his friend’s Gates Foundation.

Buffett’s has often revealed his penchant for coke and ice-cream. “I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among six-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a six-year-old,” he once famously quipped. So, what’s the secret to his health and longevity? “I really wish I’d had a twin, and that twin had eaten broccoli his entire life, and we both consumed the same number of calories. I know I would have been happier, and I think the odds are fairly good that I would’ve lived longer,” quipped the Oracle of Omaha in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting.

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