Shareholder-friendly, long-term oriented management quotes for investing

Warren Buffett and many other value investors often cite the importance of management in choosing which businesses to own. Buffett has discussed wanting to see integrity, intelligence and initiative in managers, which can often be seen through their communications with shareholders. Though actions obviously speak louder than words, I have curated some quotes from nine companies below, which I believe demonstrate a degree of either shareholder orientation, a long-term mindset or general candour and integrity, especially regarding mistakes. Feel free to Tweet at me with any feedback or other business managers who display similar tenets!

Thor Industries

Your chairman and vice-chairman have never been and will not be paid excessive compensation. Neither have we been nor will we be granted the company’s stock options or restricted stock. We believe that far too many public shareholders are ripped off by dishonest CEOs and other top managers who are paid unconscionable amounts for inferior and sometimes even fraudulent performance.

Your management owns approximately 45% of Thor stock and has been, and will continue to be, closely aligned with the interests of our outside stockholders. This is one reason we have been the most successful company in our two industries and why we expect to expand our leading position in each. An investment of $11,000 for 1,000 shares in our initial public offering in January 1984 was worth approximately $203,000 on October 7, 2002. We will continue to maintain our objective of maximizing shareholder value.
Thor Industries 2002 Annual Report
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Costco

Our philosophy is to provide our members with quality goods and services at competitive prices. We do not focus in the short-term on maximizing prices charged, but instead seek to maintain what we believe is a perception among our members of our “pricing authority” on quality goods – consistently providing the most competitive values.
Costco 2020 Annual Report
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Watsco

The use of Watsco equity with key leaders has played an important role in our success in two ways – getting our organization to think long-term and to act as owners. Today, our directors, officers and employees maintain meaningful ownership of the company, most of which does not vest until an individual’s career with the company is complete. The benefits of long-term thinking come to our leaders in the long-term, a very important parallel in our minds.
Watsco 2011 Annual Report
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Ryman Healthcare

Our long-term success and the financial strength it has created allows us to reinvest to create even more value as well as generate returns for shareholders to reward them for investing in us. Our view is always long term.
Ryman Healthcare 2022 Annual Report
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I have a passion for driving top-tier returns with strong value creation, making a great profit and appropriate returns. Creating value is absolutely what we’re here for. Unashamedly I say that. What I love about this model is that we do it with care. I think that’s really really important.
Greg Campbell, Ryman Healthcare Chairman, 2021 annual meeting
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Berkshire Hathaway

The final component in our GAAP figure – that ugly $11 billion write-down – is almost entirely the quantification of a mistake I made in 2016. That year, Berkshire purchased Precision Castparts (“PCC”), and I paid too much for the company. No one misled me in any way – I was simply too optimistic about PCC’s normalized profit potential. Last year, my miscalculation was laid bare by adverse developments throughout the aerospace industry, PCC’s most important source of customers. In purchasing PCC, Berkshire bought a fine company – the best in its business. Mark Donegan, PCC’s CEO, is a passionate manager who consistently pours the same energy into the business that he did before we purchased it. We are lucky to have him running things. I believe I was right in concluding that PCC would, over time, earn good returns on the net tangible assets deployed in its operations. I was wrong, however, in judging the average amount of future earnings and, consequently, wrong in my calculation of the proper price to pay for the business. PCC is far from my first error of that sort. But it’s a big one.
Berkshire Hathaway 2020 Annual Report
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Constellation Software

Each quarter we try to study an admirable company and discuss it with our Operating Group managers and board members. We focus on high performance conglomerates that have demonstrated at least a decade of superior shareholder returns. We started by studying those that have generated superior returns for multiple decades. That narrowed the field a lot, so we are beginning to let some single decade performers slip into the candidate pool.
Constellation Software 2015 Annual Report
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Google

As a private company, we have concentrated on the long term, and this has served us well. As a public company, we will do the same. In our opinion, outside pressures too often tempt companies to sacrifice long term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations. Sometimes this pressure has caused companies to manipulate financial results in order to “make their quarter.” In Warren Buffett’s words, “We won’t ‘smooth’ quarterly or annual results: If earnings figures are lumpy when they reach headquarters, they will be lumpy when they reach you.”
If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short term results but are in the best long term interest of our shareholders, we will take those opportunities. We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view.
You might ask how long is long term? Usually we expect projects to have some realized benefit or progress within a year or two. But, we are trying to look forward as far as we can. Despite the quickly changing business and technology landscape, we try to look at three to five year scenarios in order to decide what to do now. We try to optimize total benefit over these multi-year scenarios. While we are strong advocates of this strategy, it is difficult to make good multi-year predictions in technology.
2004 Google IPO Letter to Shareholders
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Amazon

We’ve done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don’t do that, because we believe — and we have to take this as an article of faith — that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.
Amazon Annual Report
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Starbucks

We understand the challenges we face, and we know that we have the ability and experience to overcome them. Like some other fast-growing companies, as we rapidly grew and had phenomenal success, we built infrastructure to support that growth which—although necessary—resulted in bureaucracy. We started to lose sight of our focus on the customer and our commitment to continually and creatively enhance the Starbucks Experience
Starbucks 2007 Annual Report
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In my letter to you two years ago, I expressed concern over challenges confronting our business of a breadth and magnitude unlike anything I had ever seen before. For the first time, we were beginning to see traffic in our U.S. stores slow. Strong competitors were entering our business. And perhaps most troublesome, where in the past Starbucks had always been forward-thinking and nimble in its decision-making and execution, like many fast-growing companies before us, we had allowed our success to make us complacent. As I returned to the role of president and chief executive officer, it was obvious to me, and to our leadership team, that Starbucks needed nothing less than a full-fledged transformation to return to profitable growth. Since then, we have worked through the multitude of challenges required to revitalize our brand and transform our company—all in the face of the worst global economic environment of our generation. Today, I am pleased to report that we have made and continue to make significant progress in transforming Starbucks and returning the company to sustainable, profitable growth while preserving our values and guiding principles.
Starbucks 2009 Annual Report
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