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Strong First Two Chapters, Then Loses Direction
on March 17, 2008
When I started this book, I was looking forward to seeing a somewhat contrarian approach to investing; something a little different from the Cramers, Fishers, Buffetts, etc. out there. And Mayer promises as much.
For the first part of the book, Mayer lives up to his promise, clearly contrasting a dealmakers' approach to investing and analyzing a potential purchase and contrasting it to that of the average investor. He makes a few excellent points, such as how a stock price only tells a fraction of the story, looking at whether a company has tangible vs. intangible assets, etc.
After the first few chapters, the author starts to meander. The rest of the book is a hodgepodge of advice gleaned from various greats, such as Joel Greenblatt and Marty Whitman. In one case, Mayer greatly disappoints when he starts discussing one of Greenblatt's theories, leaves a lot of open questions, and tells us to read Greenblatt's book for the rest. Was Mayer paid to plug Greenblatt's book?
As one who has graduated from the CNBC soundbyte approach to investing and was looking for something more substantive, I found the book to be a good starting point in throwing out some ideas and adding a bunch of books to my reading list. But otherwise, I don't see who the audience is: the book is too advanced for the novice investor, and the advanced investor who's read the classics won't find much new here, especially after the first couple of chapters.
Overall, the book has some redeeming value, but I didn't find it to live up to its promise.