The 10 best investments of all time
There’s no single factor that creates a great investment. It involves being the right person in the right place at just the right time. When those factors combine, stand back and watch the investment fly. Here are ten of the best, starting with some deals by the seasoned investor, Warren Buffet.
Like taking candy from a baby
One of Warren Buffett’s sweetest deals dates back to 1972, when See’s Candy, a family owned business with candy stores across the American West, was having some problems. Warren Buffet bought the company for $25m. Apparently one of his favourite deals, Buffet still owns the stock, now worth a staggering £1.35bn and counting.
A banker to Buffett
In 1990, relying on his view that he should buy what he knew, he invested $290m in bank Wells Fargo, at a time when banking stock was in crisis. Buffet hung on in there, and today it’s worth $375bn.
Checking out at the right time
Buffett also demonstrated how important it is to know what’s going on in the boardroom. In 1988, Buffett invested $108m in mortgage insurance company Freddie Mac, seeing its share price soar to $70. After meetings with the CEO in 2000, he sold his stock, concerned about Freddie Mac’s future. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hughes’ shares fly high
The legendary, if unorthodox, investor Howard Hughes comes next. With his unbounded energy for making a great deal of money from unusual ideas, Hughes took control of the TWA airline company in 1952, buying 78% of the stock for just $7m. He had to sell his shares several years later after a prolonged lawsuit, but in the process he made around $550 million – around $4 billion in today’s money.
Kroc’s lovin’ it
Seeing the explosion of burgers and chips as an all-American favourite in the ’50s, Ray Kroc decided to buy out the McDonald brothers’ Californian restaurants for $2.7m, but only after he had assisted the brothers in franchising the brand. His shrewd business decisions earned him $500m – that’s $1bn in today’s money.
Slick move for Flager
Travel a little further back in time for Henry Flager’s longsighted investment of $100,000 in Standard Oil in 1867. That might not seem much, particularly at a time when oil didn’t have the global value that it has today, but his shrewd investment became a company worth $75m ($1.7bn today) after he joined forces with John D. Rockefeller.
eBay sales sets the digital age Benchmark
Coming a little more up to date, a group of four investors known collectively as Benchmark Capital invested $6.7m in eBay in 1995. Just a few years later, they became the most successful venture capital companies ever. Today’s eBay worth? A cool $6.8bn.
Peter Thiel ‘likes’ this
As social media took off, one might be forgiven for being unsure of the best platform in which to invest. Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, had no such concerns, investing $500,000 to purchase 10% of Facebook in 2005, while it was still a reasonably small platform. He judged it right – everyone is now on Facebook and he sold the majority of his holding in 2012 for $400m.
Candler’s sweet deal
Next up, the ubiquitous drink that we all love – Coca-Cola. Way back in 1891, needing money, a pharmacist in the southern states sold the recipe for a drink he had created and which was proving quite popular. He might have wished he hadn’t – investor Asa Candler bought Coke for £2,300 and a little over 30 years later sold it for $25m. That’s $332m today.
Thanks Uncle John!
John Gray once invested $10,500 in a venture for his nephew. The venture? Ford Car Company. Ford bought the Gray family out in 1919 for $26.25m, proving that contacts can be everything in the world of successful investment.