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与赢家共事

2009-11-29  之间
与赢家共事(2008-06-06 18:38:05)

      

    “与赢家共事”的管理之道。这是巴菲特从球童Eddie的赚钱故事发展而来的管理模式,“Eddie很清楚地知道他如何拎球棒并不重要,重要的是他能为球场上最当红的明星拎球棒才是关键。我从Eddie身上学到很多,所以在伯克希尔,我就经常为美国商业大联盟的超级强打者拎球棒。”“至于我的任务其实相当简单,那就是站在旁边默默鼓励,尽量不要碍着他们,并好好地运用他们所赚来的大笔资金。”

 

2007年巴菲特给股东信摘译

                          巴爷论卓越的、不错的及糟糕的生意

陈宏杰编

Let’s take a look at what kind of businesses turn us on. And while we’re at it, let’s also discuss what we wish to avoid.

让我们来看一下什么样的公司让人兴奋。同时讨论一下我们应该回避哪些公司?

Charlie and I look for companies that have a) a business we understand; b) favorable long-term economics; c) able and trustworthy management; and d) a sensible price tag. We like to buy the whole business or, if management is our partner, at least 80%. When control-type purchases of quality aren’t available, though, we are also happy to simply buy small portions of great businesses by way of stockmarket purchases. It’s better to have a part interest in the Hope Diamond than to own all of a rhinestone.

查理和我期待的公司应该符合如下特征:⑴是我们看得懂的生意;⑵有持续发展的潜质;⑶管理层诚实能干;⑷出价合理。这样的公司我们愿意整个买下,或者,如果管理层愿意合伙经营的话,我们将至少收购80%的股份。如果无法取得控股权,我们也乐意通过股票市场,仅仅购买部分股权。毕竟拥有一小块“希望钻石”也胜过拥有整颗人造水晶。

A truly great business must have an enduring “moat” that protects excellent returns on invested capital. The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business “castle” that is earning high returns. Therefore a formidable barrier such as a company’s being the lowcost producer (GEICO, Costco) or possessing a powerful world-wide brand (Coca-Cola, Gillette, American Express) is essential for sustained success. Business history is filled with “Roman Candles,” companies whose moats proved illusory and were soon crossed.

一家真正伟大的公司必须有一条坚固持久的“护城河”,保护它的高收益。资本的流动特性决定了竞争对手会不断进攻那些高回报的商业“城堡”。因此,坚固的防御,例如成为低成本制造商(GEICO、好事多超市)或拥有一个世界知名品牌(可口可乐、吉列、美国运通),对于持久的成功来说,至关重要。商业史充满了“罗马蜡烛”,那些自我保护措施不足的公司会很快在竞争中败下阵来。

Our criterion of “enduring” causes us to rule out companies in industries prone to rapid and continuous change. Though capitalism’s “creative destruction” is highly beneficial for society, it precludes investment certainty. A moat that must be continuously rebuilt will eventually be no moat at all.

以“持续性”为标准,我们排除了那些在某个行业中一味求快和变动太快的公司。虽然资本主义的“创造性破坏”对于整个社会来讲是非常有利的,但同时也破坏了资本回报的确定性。如果护城河需要不断重建,则最终根本不可能成为“护城河”。

Additionally, this criterion eliminates the business whose success depends on having a great manager. Of course, a terrific CEO is a huge asset for any enterprise, and at Berkshire we have an abundance of these managers. Their abilities have created billions of dollars of value that would never have materialized if typical CEOs had been running their businesses.

此外,这样的标准也把那种依靠一个伟大管理者成功的企业排除在外。当然,一位精明的CEO对于任何一个公司来说都是一笔不小财富,而且在巴郡,这样的管理者也大有人在,他们的才能为公司创造了一般CEO永远无法企及的巨大价值。

But if a business requires a superstar to produce great results, the business itself cannot be deemed great. A medical partnership led by your area’s premier brain surgeon may enjoy outsized and growing earnings, but that tells little about its future. The partnership’s moat will go when the surgeon goes. You can count, though, on the moat of the Mayo Clinic to endure, even though you can’t name its CEO.

但是,如果一个公司要依靠一位超级明星来寻求伟大成就,它就不应被认为是个卓越公司一个由当地著名脑外科医生领导的合伙制药企业可能会享有可观的、不断增长的利润,但这对于未来没有什么意义。这家合伙企业的护城河将会随着名医的离去而消失。然而,你却可以肯定梅奥诊所的成功将会一直持续下去,虽然你根本不知道它的CEO叫什么名字。

Long-term competitive advantage in a stable industry is what we seek in a business. If that comes with rapid organic growth, great. But even without organic growth, such a business is rewarding. We will simply take the lush earnings of the business and use them to buy similar businesses elsewhere. There’s no rule that you have to invest money where you’ve earned it. Indeed, it’s often a mistake to do so: Truly great businesses, earning huge returns on tangible assets, can’t for any extended period reinvest a large portion of their earnings internally at high rates of return.

我们寻找的,是在一个稳定行业中的长期竞争优势。如果业绩的增长是整个经济大环境的景气带来的,很好。但即使没有整个经济结构性的增长,一个企业仍然能够保持竞争优势,那么,它就是有价值的企业。我们需要做的只是坐享其收益并用它来购买其他地方同类的企业即可。没有法律要求你必须把钱投回到你获得这些钱的地方。实际上,这样做常常是错误的:真正卓越的公司,从有形资产中获得巨大收益,但永远不会把大部分的利润进行内部再投资以期获得高额回报。

Let's look at the prototype of a dream business, our own See's Candy. The boxed-chocolates industry in which it operates is unexciting: Per-capita consumption in the U.S. is extremely low and doesn't grow. Many once-important brands have disappeared, and only three companies have earned more than token profits over the last forty years. Indeed, I believe that See's, though it obtains the bulk of its revenues from only a few states, accounts for nearly half of the entire industry’s earnings.

让我们看一个理想企业的原型——我们自己的喜斯糖果公司。它所在的盒装巧克力行业很令人扫兴:美国人均消费量极低而且上升缓慢。很多曾经重要的品牌都消失了,在过去的四十年中,只有三家公司赚得了比象征性利润稍多点的钱。实际上,我相信喜斯的利润几乎占据了整个行业利润的一半,尽管它的销售收入只是从很少几个州取得的。

At See's, annual sales were 16 million pounds of candy when Blue Chip Stamps purchased the company in 1972. (Charlie and I controlled Blue Chip at the time and later merged it into Berkshire.) Last year See’s sold 31 million pounds, a growth rate of only 2% annually. Yet its durable competitive advantage, built by the See's family over a 50-year period, and strengthened subsequently by Chuck Huggins and Brad Kinstler, has produced extraordinary results for Berkshire.

当蓝票公司在1972年收购喜斯糖果的时候,糖果的年销售量为1600万镑(蓝票公司当时由我和查理控制,后来将其并入巴郡)。2007年,喜斯销量为3100万镑,年增长率仅为2%。然而,由喜斯家族经过五十年缔造起来,随后查克"胡金斯和布莱德"金斯特不断巩固的持续竞争优势,已经为巴郡创造了非凡的价值。

We bought See's for $25 million when its sales were $30 million and pre-tax earnings were less than $5 million. The capital then required to conduct the business was $8 million. (Modest seasonal debt was also needed for a few months each year.) Consequently, the company was earning 60% pre-tax on invested capital. Two factors helped to minimize the funds required for operations. First, the product was sold for cash, and that eliminated accounts receivable. Second, the production and distribution cycle was short, which minimized inventories.

我们花了2500万美元来收购喜斯,而当时它的销售额仅为3000万,税前收入还不到500万,开展业务还需资金800万(一年中有几个月还可能出现一些季节性负债)。但结果,公司的税前资本收益率达到了60%。有两个因素有助于把运营所需资金控制在最低的水平上:首先,产品出售可以带来现金流,第二,生产和配送周期短,最大限度地缩减了库存。

Last year See's sales were $383 million, and pre-tax profits were $82 million. The capital now required to run the business is $40 million. This means we have had to reinvest only $32 million since 1972 to handle the modest physical growth – and somewhat immodest financial growth – of the business.

去年喜斯的销售额为3.83亿,税前收入8200万。现在公司的运营成本是4000万。这意味着从1972年到现在,我们只花了3200万美元进行再投资,就完成了这种平稳的规模增长和某种意义上平稳的财务增长。

In the meantime pre-tax earnings have totaled $1.35 billion. All of that, except for the $32 million, has been sent to Berkshire (or, in the early years, to Blue Chip). After paying corporate taxes on the profits, we have used the rest to buy other attractive businesses. Just as Adam and Eve kick-started an activity that led to six billion humans, See's has given birth to multiple new streams of cash for us. (The biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply” is one we take seriously at Berkshire.)(

同时,税前收入总计已经达到了13.5亿。除去3200万,其它的利润尽归巴郡(之前归蓝票)。我们用税后的收益来收购其他具有吸引力的企业。就像亚当和夏娃搞了一项产生60亿人口的活动,喜斯为我们开辟了更多的新财源。圣经的训诫“多生多产,填满地球”在巴郡得到了认真的履行。

There aren't many See's in Corporate America. Typically, companies that increase their earnings from $5 million to $82 million require, say, $400 million or so of capital investment to finance their growth. That’s because growing businesses have both working capital needs that increase in proportion to sales growth and significant requirements for fixed asset investments.

在美国,像喜斯这样的公司并不多。一般来讲,一个企业的利润从500万增至8200万,需要大约4亿的资本投入。这是因为成长中的公司不仅需要维持其销售增长的运营成本,还有大量的固定资产投入需求。

A company that needs large increases in capital to engender its growth may well prove to be a satisfactory investment. There is, to follow through on our example, nothing shabby about earning $82 million pre-tax on $400 million of net tangible assets. But that equation for the owner is vastly different from the See’s situation. It’s far better to have an ever-increasing stream of earnings with virtually no major capital requirements. Ask Microsoft or Google.

那种需要大幅增加资产才能满足发展需要的企业,或可视为一个好的投资标的。正像我们举的例子,从4亿的有形净资产中获得8200万的税前收益,这看上去也不错,但对于股东来说,这样的公司就和喜斯相差甚远了。一个不依靠巨量资金投入就能获得持续增长的公司显然要更好一些。在这方面,可以问问微软和Google。

One example of good, but far from sensational, business economics is our own FlightSafety. This company delivers benefits to its customers that are the equal of those delivered by any business that I know of. It also possesses a durable competitive advantage: Going to any other flight-training provider than the best is like taking the low bid on a surgical procedure.

一个可称其为不错而绝非卓越的例子,是我们的安飞公司。这个公司为其股东分发的红利不比我知道的其他任何一家公司少,它同样也拥有其持续竞争优势:不去选择最好的飞行培训公司,就像做手术去选价钱最低的医生一样。

Nevertheless, this business requires a significant reinvestment of earnings if it is to grow. When we purchased FlightSafety in 1996, its pre-tax operating earnings were $111 million, and its net investment in fixed assets was $570 million. Since our purchase, depreciation charges have totaled $923 million. But capital expenditures have totaled $1.635 billion, most of that for simulators to match the new airplane models that are constantly being introduced. (A simulator can cost us more than $12 million, and we have 273 of them.) Our fixed assets, after depreciation, now amount to $1.079 billion. Pre-tax operating earnings in 2007 were $270 million, a gain of $159 million since 1996. That gain gave us a good, but far from See’s-like, return on our incremental investment of $509 million.

然而,这样的公司需要把大量的收入拿来进行再投资以维持其护增长。1996年我们收购安飞时,其税前营收为1.11亿。在固定资产上的净投资为5.70亿。从我们收购那天开始到现在,资产折旧已经达到9.23亿。但资本支出已经达到了16.35亿,其中的绝大部分是有来配备仍在不断更新型号的飞机模拟器(一套模拟器成本超过1200万美元,安飞公司拥有273套)。我们的固定资产,折旧后总价值为10.9亿。2007年税前收入为2.70亿,同1996年相比增加了1.59亿,取得这样的成绩已经很好了,但对于我们来说显然远逊于喜斯。

Consequently, if measured only by economic returns, FlightSafety is an excellent but not extraordinary business. Its put-up-more-to-earn-more experience is that faced by most corporations. For example, our large investment in regulated utilities falls squarely in this category. We will earn considerably more money in this business ten years from now, but we will invest many billions to make it.

所以,从利润产出的大小,我们仅仅可以衡量安飞是否不错,而不能判断其是否卓越。安飞公司需要增加更多投资以获得更高收益,是大多数公司所面临的情况。例如,我们对公共事业公司的大量投资都是如此。未来十年,我们会从这些业务中赢得不小的回报,但同时也要投入数十亿美元才能做到这点。

Now let's move to the gruesome. The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.

现在来看看糟糕的情形。最差的一种公司是那种发展很快,并需要大量资本投入来维持其发展,但利润却少得可怜甚至根本赚不到钱的公司。想想航空公司吧,从怀特兄弟时代起,航空公司的持续竞争力已经开始让人怀疑。实际上,一个有远见的资本家当时如果有机会身处小鹰镇,为了他的后继者们好,应该毫不犹豫把怀特"奥维尔的飞机击落(注:1903年12月17日奥维尔驾驶“飞行者号”在北卡罗莱娜州海滨小镇小鹰镇以南40英里处试航成功)。

The airline industry's demand for capital ever since that first flight has been insatiable. Investors have poured money into a bottomless pit, attracted by growth when they should have been repelled by it.

从第一架飞机诞生那天开始,航空业就注定是个烧钱行当。投资者把大把钞票投入到了这个无底洞,吸引他们的利润却有可能永远拿不到。

And I, to my shame, participated in this foolishness when I had Berkshire buy U.S. Air preferred stock in 1989. As the ink was drying on our check, the company went into a tailspin, and before long our preferred dividend was no longer being paid. But we then got very lucky. In one of the recurrent, but always misguided, bursts of optimism for airlines, we were actually able to sell our shares in 1998 for a hefty gain.

而我,很惭愧,也曾经做过这种傻事,那是在1989年,我决定让巴郡购买美国航空的优先股。支票上的墨迹未干,这个公司就开始螺旋式滑落,不久,我们的股票也见不到任何分红。但我们还算幸运,在另一个经济周期,航空业的乐观情绪集中爆发,我们得以抛出所有股票,而且赚得盆满钵满。

In the decade following our sale, the company went bankrupt. Twice.

接下来的10年里,这家公司遭遇了破产,而且是两次。

To sum up, think of three types of “savings accounts.” The great one pays an extraordinarily high interest rate that will rise as the years pass. The good one pays an attractive rate of interest that will be earned also on deposits that are added. Finally, the gruesome account both pays an inadequate interest rate and requires you to keep adding money at those disappointing returns.(

总结一下,考虑这三类“储蓄帐户”,卓越的公司支付非常可观的利息,而且会随着时间不断地增长;不错的公司如果你不断增加存款的话,利息也会很具吸引力;最后,糟糕的公司不但利息令人失望,你还要不断的掏钱来维持这种少得可怜的回报。

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陈宏杰评论:

巴爷只会对“卓越公司”考虑长持,对于“不错公司”搞雪茄烟屁式套利,丢弃“糟糕公司”。中国人自诩为亚洲最赚钱公司的中石油,显然属于第二类,因为它无法摆脱由成本扩展推动的阴影。当年巴爷花2500万,买下一家销售额3000万的公司,税前收入不足500万,完全不满足格氏的投资标准,但却实实在在是个好的价值投资案例。米勒以22倍销售额,而且是预期的销售额,买下。基本可以定义为疯狂,但仍是很好的价值投资案例。关键是投资人对企业未来的理解水平,一家年增长35%的企业,以40倍PE入货,三年后只有16倍。若能持续这个增长水平五年,那PE40入货的家伙就是大师级。但大家都这么预期时,把PE托高到150倍,等于需要年均增长35%,持续7年,显然没有谁可以预期一个高速增长能持续如此之久。150倍PE入货,而大谈基本面的家伙,不是疯子,就是白痴。所谓增长性陷阱,或者直接称其为增长诱发的癫狂。但是增长率若远远高于35%,150倍PE,又有何不可?!

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