Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger had a longtime, special relationship with Costco

Charlie Munger handed away at 99 years previous on Tuesday. Whereas he is recognized to be Warren Buffett’s longtime investing associate at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B), he additionally left fairly the mark on Costco (COST).

He first got here throughout the wholesale retailer by way of Sol Value, founding father of Value Membership (which later merged with Costco), Munger recounted to the “Acquired” podcast final month. Costco later requested Buffett to take a seat on the board, however the billionaire declined, sending Munger to the corporate as an alternative.

Munger then served as a director at Costco from 1997 on, and had been adamant about expressing his love for the model.

“I really like every part about Costco,” Munger mentioned throughout The Each day Journal’s annual shareholder assembly again in February, “I am a complete addict, and I am by no means going to promote a share.”

Berkshire Hathaway exited its stake in Costco in late 2020 after promoting 4.3 million shares, however Munger retained a private stake within the firm.

As of October, Munger owned 167,615 shares of Costco personally, and had one other 19,565 shares held in his charitable basis, the Alfred C. Munger Basis.

This brings the worth of his whole stake within the firm to over $111 million as of Tuesday’s shut.

“Charlie Munger shall be missed, however Costco has a protracted historical past of working a constant enterprise primarily based on offering terrific worth to its members. This could not change in any approach following the passing of Mr. Munger,” mentioned Joe Feldman, senior managing director of Telsey Advisory Group.

Munger was nonetheless praising Costco just lately, declaring that Dwelling Depot copied its playbook of going for quantity.

“Nicely, [Costco] actually did promote cheaper than anyone else in America and so they did it in large environment friendly shops,” he defined on “Acquired.” “They saved out of their shops all these individuals who didn’t do large volumes … They gave particular advantages to the individuals who did come to the shops in the way in which of reward factors. All of it labored.”

The wholesaler additionally went with a capital gentle mannequin, ready to pay suppliers solely after they’ve scheduled the gross sales of products. In the meantime, Walmart hasn’t been capable of crack into the corporate’s demographic of well-off suburban customers.

“They received into the behavior of getting actual property for virtually nothing, as a result of they went into cities the place nothing is effective … So it offended them to go in opposition to the wealthy suburbs and having to pay for the nice areas,” Munger mentioned of Walmart.

“Costco simply specializes within the good areas, the place the wealthy folks lived. And Walmart simply allow them to do it yr after yr. It was only a horrible mistake.”

He admitted, although, that purchasing Costco now, given the current value improve, is “getting onerous” however nonetheless favored the funding for the subsequent 10 years.

Within the final 5 years, shares of Costco are up practically 157%. In 1997, shares have been round $15, and now sit at $594 per share as of Tuesday’s shut.

Warren Buffett (L), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger attend the 2019 annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Warren Buffett (L), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and vice chairman Charlie Munger attend the 2019 annual shareholders assembly in Omaha, Neb., Might 3, 2019. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP through Getty Pictures) (JOHANNES EISELE through Getty Pictures)

Munger’s Costco holding is just second to that of Costco CEO Craig Jelinek, who owned 339,311 shares as of October. Jelinek shall be stepping down on Jan. 1, 2024, and handing the reins to present chief working officer Ron Vachris.

Final yr, Jelinek instructed Yahoo Finance that Munger has been an enormous asset to the corporate by way of the years — and never simply due to his famed fast wit.

“I might share many tales with Charlie,” Jelinek instructed Yahoo Finance Reside. “Charlie’s received a photographic reminiscence.”

Costco shareholders even have Munger to thank for its worldwide growth. Munger mentioned the board began to push the corporate to get into China, which it did in 2019. It now has 5 areas within the nation.

The wholesaler wasn’t the one model that Munger left a long-lasting impression on.

Jim Weber, CEO of Berkshire-owned Brooks Working, instructed Yahoo Finance, “What a milestone for Berkshire to lose Charlie at 99. For me he was knowledge personified.”

Brooke DiPalma is a senior reporter for Yahoo Finance. Observe her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or electronic mail her at

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