In a few weeks, more than 40,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders will receive the 2015 annual report in their mailbox. They’d be wise not to throw it out.
While some corporations have moved their annual reports online, older print copies have actually gained value and can fetch a premium today—especially if they’re from notable names. This rather plain 1980 Berkshire Hathaway annual report (marked with “pencil underlines”) is being offered at $2,050 on Ebay.
The years 1979 and 1980 marked continued growth in Warren Buffet’s company, with operating earnings improving by almost $6 million, as noted in his 1980 letter to shareholders. In 1980, Berkshire was trading at $290 a share—roughly seven times the cost of this used report.
Part earnings report, part marketing brochure, an annual report offers a comprehensive recap of a company’s marquee projects and initiatives, typically sent to shareholders in advance of their annual meeting. Many companies order a bigger print run and use the report as all-purpose literature year round.
A commission to design an annual report is among the most coveted projects for graphic designers. Compared to the usual template-based collaterals, annual reports allow for experimentation: unconventional editorial concepts, surprising book formats, photography, illustration, and print techniques. Designers can also typically charge a higher project fee for these splashy, high-production corporate yearbooks.