Power Point: Simple doesn’t mean easy

May 9, 2009, 2:57 AM UTC
Fortune

“If you are in the investment business and you have a high IQ, sell 30 points to the next person. You do not have to be a genius at all. But you do have to have emotional stability, and you have to have some peace about your decisions. I don’t know how much is innate and how much can be taught. If you have that quality you will do very well. As I have said many times, it is simple, but not easy.”

–Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha last weekend. Buffett’s theory that you don’t have to be a genius to make money investing is well known, but it bears repeating in these uncertain times where “emotional stability” and “peace” seem in short supply. After Friday’s closing bell, Berkshire reported a quarterly loss of $1.4 billion vs. a $1 billion profit in the same quarter a year ago. Among the culprits: write-downs in derivatives, falling oil prices, and the retail crunch. Strong profits in insurance underwriting shored Berkshire. Shares were up slightly in after-hours trading.  –Jessica Shambora