The two managers will occasionally sound out Buffett about investments, and they all have a regular lunch together on Mondays. But Buffett says that as often as not, he learns about their buys and their sells from monthly position reports.
“They don’t have to check in before they buy or sell anything,” Buffett recently told Yahoo. “It’s entirely their decision.”
Both are also hedge fund veterans, hired despite the boss’ tweaking of hedge funds over fees, and for a long time. Weschler’s fund reportedly rose 1,236 percent before he closed it over an 11-year period, trouncing Buffett’s 146 percent gain over the same time frame.
3. No matter how smart you are, new blood will lead to new ways of thinking.
Weschler in particular is credited with convincing Buffett to look at industries, notably technology, that he has previously left to other investors. He’s the godfather of Berkshire’s investment in Apple, which began with a $1 billion purchase disclosed last May at an average price of just under $100 a share. Apple’s up nearly 50 percent since, and Berkshire now owns roughly 2.4 percent of Apple shares at a value of roughly $20 billion.
Over the years, Buffett never liked to dabble in tech himself, and the divergence between the Apple bet and Buffett’s bet on IBM may show the value of new perspectives. Buffett made his IBM mea culpa to CNBC on Thursday, saying he had lowered his valuation of the company and sold 20 million shares when it hit $180 — but he stills owns a ton.
But even in old-school economy areas where Buffett is a master — consumer stocks and industrials — the new managers brought new ways of thinking. For his part, Combs is credited with convincing Buffett and Munger to buy battery-maker Duracell — and sell long-time stock-holding and Duracell parent Procter & Gamble. He also convinced Berkshire to spend $37.2 billion in 2015 to buy Precision Castparts, a maker of equipment for the aerospace and energy industries.