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Bull's Eye Investing: Targeting Real Returns in a Smoke and Mirrors Market Paperback – May 5, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The key to successful investing today is knowing where the markets and economy are going, not where they have been, and focusing on absolute returns––real profits in your pocket. You, the contemporary investor, instinctively know that the markets of today––and the forces that drive them––are quite different than those of past decades. Your intuition tells you that if you are to be successful in the future, you must adjust your investment strategy to reflect the new economic realities. But what strategies? What adjustments? Where can you turn for reality-based answers?

In the positive and forward-thinking Bull’s Eye Investing: Targeting Real Returns in a Smoke and Mirrors Market, financial expert John Mauldin makes a powerful case regarding the future direction of the markets and what you must do to be successful in them. Mauldin lays a solid foundation for his argument by examining six major (and very different) ways to look at the stock market as well as the numerous ways Wall Street tries to entice unknowing investors to keep buying overvalued products. Marshalling a huge array of facts and sources, Mauldin looks at these and other issues, including the effects of value, risk, market psychology, and demographics on your potential investments. He details a new approach to investing that will allow you to successfully adjust to the new reality of investing.

In a straightforward and easy-to-understand style, Mauldin helps you understand why traditional stock portfolios shouldn’t be your primary investment vehicle in the coming years, and how absolute return vehicles, such as hedge funds (Chapters 20—22), specific types of bonds, and certain types of value-oriented stocks (Chapters 16—18), and investments can help you control risk, while carefully and methodically growing your investments over the next decade.

Helping you think outside of the Wall Street box, Bull’s Eye Investing focuses on finding value and controlling risk, while working with trends (which Mauldin forecasts for you) rather than against them. It will show you why investors must focus on absolute returns instead of relative returns, as well as how research and homework will be rewarded––rather than blind trust in an ever-spiraling market.

Good markets are followed by bad markets, which are again followed by good markets. While no one can predict exactly when these markets will begin or end, there’s a pretty good chance that this cycle will continue to repeat itself. As an investor, success hinges on your understanding of these ever-changing economic and investment cycles––and your response to them. Bull’s Eye Investing can help you make the most of these trends, by showing you how to target your investments toward where the markets will be, not where they have been.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Bull's Eye Investing

"This book has more wisdom per page than any reader has the right to ask for. John Mauldin knows the score and tells the reader how to join him in keeping count."
—Peter L. Bernstein, author of the bestselling Against the Gods

"Bull's Eye Investing is a treasure trove of market insights and information. Simply put, Bull's Eye Investing provides information and perspective that you will not find anywhere else."
—Richard Russell, publisher of Dow Theory Letters

"Bull's Eye Investing is a lucidly written, lambently cautionary, edifying, and diverting must-read guide to the ways and means of hitting the gyrating target of a 'Muddle Through Economy.' Mauldin is the Ben Graham of the new millennium."
—George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty and editor of the Gilder Technology Report

"Mauldin dances and weaves through a mountain of fascinating research, taking us on a tour of the past and giving us a preview of the future. Bull's Eye Investing is one book that should be close to every investor's desk."
—William Bonner, author of the New York Times #1 business bestseller, Financial Reckoning Day

"This book is lucid, cogent, and useful. Overall, it provides an excellent guide to better investing habits and an effective antidote to standard Wall Street bromides."
—Robert R. Prechter Jr., author of the bestseller Conquer the Crash

"Finally, an easy-to-read but very comprehensive study on investments in a world where, sadly, common sense is no longer so common."
—Marc Faber, editor of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report

"For these deer in the headlights, Mauldin's advice is explicit . . . forcefully argued and well researched."
—Gregory Bresiger, Active Trader Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471716928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471716921
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Mauldin is a renowned financial expert, a multiple New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneering online commentator. His weekly e-newsletter, Thoughts From The Frontline, was one of the first publications to provide investors with free, unbiased information and guidance. Today, it is one of the most widely distributed investment newsletters in the world, translated into Chinese, Spanish and Italian. He is regularly seen on TV and in national print media. President of Millennium Wave Investments, he is the father of seven children (five adopted) and lives in Dallas, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book asks where the stock market will be in ten years' time, and how you should invest as a result of that. It's potentially important, because discussion of long-term investment strategy (as opposed to next quarter's earnings) is so rare - yet obviously critical for investors. For that reason, I'm going to write a more detailed review than most of the others you'll find here. I'll summarize Mauldin's key arguments, briefly discuss his recommendations, and finally give you an honest appraisal of whether you should buy the book.

SYNOPSIS. In the first half of the book, Mauldin sets out to prove that in ten years' time the US stock market will likely be no higher than it is now, and possibly significantly lower. The stock market's future level will be determined by (a) earnings growth and (b) the value the market places on those earnings (ie. P/E ratios), so Mauldin focuses on these two elements. First, he argues that earnings growth will be disappointing. Companies' earnings will be depressed by the adoption of stricter accounting standards, the expensing of options, and higher pension costs. Combine that with anemic economic growth due to the aging of the population, the current account deficit and the budget deficit, and earnings are unlikely to exceed their historical growth rate of under 6%. Next, Mauldin argues that P/E ratios are unlikely to rise over the coming decade, and may in fact fall dramatically. He assembles a battery of arguments to prove his case. Secular bull markets have never started from times when the market's P/E ratio was as high as it is today. The market is currently overvalued according to multiple measures, and will likely revert to its historical mean.
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Format: Paperback
I am not sure what this book is trying to enunciate or whom it is targeted to, as you will see from my discussion below:

The first 8 chapters of this book are excellent and I am sure I will refer to them time and again.

The next chapters 9-14 enunciate, in excruciating detail, why the present decade will not be such a balmy one for equity investing.

The next chapters, 15-17 deal with investment psychology.

The next chapters, 16-18 deal with investing in stocks and bonds.

The balance of the chapters 20-24 deal with investing in hedge funds, gold etc.

The author shows that blindly investing in stocks and assuming that the future is always going to be rosy is misleading and unhealthy. His analysis was indeed instructive and I gained a lot from it.

He then meanders all over the place to prove that the coming decade will not be a bullish one for stocks.

He then presents alternatives, primarily using hedge funds and states time and again that this is for an "Accredited Investor" having net worth of $1,000,000 or more.

I am not sure how an average investor can use his recommendations or whether an Accredited Investor would bother to read this book and follow his (sometimes completely unrealistic) advice!

Get the book for a library, read the fist 8 chapters and leave it at that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Mauldin writes as a cool "just the facts" analyst. If this book doesn't convince you that you need to tread carefully in the next decade, then nothing will.

"Bull's Eye Investing" is a full frontal assault on the perennial bullishness of Wall Street. Mr. Mauldin comes armed with a wide array of studies from other authors. No, Mr. Mauldin does not bring his own guns made by his own hands. What he has done is assembled a vast array of weapons and assembled them in a way that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. (Many of the chapters are co-written with other authors.)

The entire book can be boiled down to one conclusion: the next decade will see a predominately declining market. Most of the book is spent detailing why this must be. Nothing written is new or ground breaking. Many of the cited studies use old premises, updated with the newest data. Trailing price-to-earnings ratios, for example, have long been cited as an inverse predictor of future returns. If you are familiar with such studies and already accept their conclusions, then you do not need to read this book as you will find the book rather repetitive. But for those who are not familiar with such evidence, the depth of arguments that he piles on will be impossible to deny.

The title of the book suggests a discussion of methods to invest in uncertain markets. It is worth noting that Mr. Mauldin is neither a professor nor a money manager - he is an advisor who helps his clients select hedge funds and other investing vehicles. Thus, as before, his investing recommendations are an assemblage of various studies and newsletters by other authors as well as his own experience with the world of hedge funds. The practicability of these recommendations is debatable.
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Format: Hardcover
I have mixed feelings about this book.

Let's start with what I think are its weaknesses.

It's too long. My paperback edition runs 400 pages. I believe the book would gain importance and usefulness with 100-150 less pages.

Of course you know the author sends a widely successful, free weekly newsletter. Well, this book is hugely built upon the newsletter material. How easy it had to be to do "copy and paste"! Just use a few keyboard strokes, and here you are with this 1.1 pounds work.

Strange things are also the two chapters devoted to hedge funds. Mr. John Mauldin is a manager of managers (so to speak). His turf are the hedge funds. He makes money out of clients he directs to hedge funds. Now I confess I read and then re-read those two chapters (20 and 21) and still I didn't understand much. Is it my weakness or else's?

I agree with other reviewers: In this book there are hardly any new topics and ideas in the field of investing money.

On the other hand, this book is very well researched and insightful. Of course the ideas aren't new; what's new is that those ideas are selected, gathered, prioritized and clearly presented. For me, it's been an eye-opener. I detail what I believe are among the book's strongest points:

1 - (from page 16) Research clearly demonstrates that "when broad market indexes go above P/E ratios of 23 or so, investors essentially get no return over the next 10 years".

2 - (p. 33) An important study "showed that an inverted yield curve (when short-term rates are higher than long-term rates) is the single most reliable predictor of recessions. Recessions appear roughly a year after an inverted yield curve."

3 - The Investment Matrix Revelations (p.
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