Buffett Assails Money-Manager Fees as Berkshire Reports Profit Rise

Billionaire also declares victory in his $1 million bet with another asset manager that low-cost index funds would out earn hedge funds over a decade

 Warren Buffett intensified his attacks on Wall Street money managers Saturday, saying that investors wasted more than $100 billion over the last decade on expensive advice.
.. “The bottom line,” Mr. Buffett wrote, is that “when trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients.”
.. Book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities that is Mr. Buffett’s preferred yardstick for measuring net worth, rose 10.7% in 2016, compared with a 12% total return in the S&P 500, including dividends.

.. Berkshire’s BNSF railroad subsidiary. Net earnings at Berkshire’s railroad fell 16% in 2016 due largely to a drop in coal demand.
.. Ajit Jain, widely considered to be one of the leading candidates to take the Berkshire CEO job when Mr. Buffett is no longer on the scene
.. Berkshire, he said, is still willing to buy back its shares if prices fall below 120% of book value.
.. Mr. Buffett praised some companies, including Bank of America Corp., for buying back shares. “Some people have come close to calling [buybacks] un-American—characterizing them as corporate misdeeds that divert funds needed for productive endeavors,” Mr. Buffett said. “That simply isn’t the case.”
.. Berkshire has warrants to buy 700 million shares of Bank of America at $7.14 apiece. The stock closed Friday at $24.23, so Mr. Buffett is looking at a paper gain of about $12 billion.
.. He attributed America’s “miraculous” economic growth to “human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law.”
.. He instead saved his sharpest comments for pricey money managers who pledge to beat the market, saying that in his lifetime he has identified “ten or so professionals” who can do so successfully.
.. “If 1,000 managers make a market prediction at the beginning of a year, it’s very likely that the calls of at least one will be correct for nine consecutive years,” he wrote.
.. In 2007 Mr. Buffett bet $1 million that his chosen index fund, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares, would outperform hedge funds over the next decade.
.. Mr. Buffett in his letter Saturday praised Vanguard founder Jack Bogle as a “hero.”
.. “If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the handsdown choice should be Jack Bogle.”