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Learn to Earn: A Beginner's Guide to the Basics of Investing and Business

110 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 072-3812180035
ISBN-10: 0471180033
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Editorial Reviews Review

To Peter Lynch, success in the stock market is pretty basic: if a company's earnings rise, then the stock price goes up. "This simple point--that the price of a stock is directly related to a company's earning power--is often overlooked, even by sophisticated investors," the former Fidelity Magellan manager writes in Learn to Earn, his third book on investing. "This is the starting point for the successful stock picker: find companies that grow their earnings over many years to come."

One of the best managers in the history of mutual funds, Lynch is certainly the person to help people choose the right stocks and understand the market. More so than One Up on Wall Street or Beating the Street, this Lynch book is for beginning investors of all ages. Lynch and coauthor John Rothchild are family men who are worried that teenagers aren't learning enough about the importance of American companies in improving lives and creating wealth. Lynch questions why students are taught that Hamlet was a tragic hero and Napoleon was a great general, but they don't know that Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart. In fact, Lynch's grasp of the past is one of the strengths of the book. One of the best chapters is "A Short History of Capitalism," a witty and homespun look at characters like Karl Marx, the Communist who believed capitalism was doomed, and the robber barons, the shrewd railroad magnates of the late 19th century who amassed huge fortunes by manipulating the markets.

Unlike the robber barons, beginning investors, Lynch says, should stick to the basics: get in the habit of saving and investing and putting aside a certain amount every month; develop a strong stomach because the stock market is going to fall and there's no way to anticipate it; do a little homework so you can understand the reasons to own a particular stock; and buy shares in solid companies and don't let go of them without a good reason.

This book marks Lynch's coming out as a fan of "direct investment programs," which are offered by many good companies. You purchase a couple of shares or so directly from the company and then you enroll in a plan and buy more shares each month, in some cases without paying a penny in fees and always without a broker--the way Lynch likes it. Lynch loves these plans because they're a great vehicle for investing a little bit at a time over a long period. Grab onto a company and learn about it, Lynch writes. The more you learn, the more you'll earn. --Dan Ring --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"Public companies are everywhere, and they surround you from morning to night. . . . Nearly everything you eat, wear, read, listen to, ride in, lie on, or gargle with is made by one. Perfume to penknives, hot tubs to hot dogs, nuts to nail polish are made by businesses that you can own." —from the Introduction.

McDonald's, The Gap, Circuit City, Gillette, CBS, and thousands more . . . anybody can own part of big and small companies. As companies grow and prosper, you can too. Whenever burgers are eaten, sweaters are purchased, batteries are used, and faces are shaved, you've got a piece of the action. From Alexander Hamilton to Warren Buffett, people have been making big money by investing in the corporations and institutions around them.

Mutual-fund superstar Peter Lynch and author John Rothchild explain what's not normally taught in high school —how the stock market helps you and how it helps the country. By understanding how and why the stock market works when you buy a share of a company or purchase a mutual fund, you can make informed —and profitable —decisions. Whether you're saving for college, a house, a trip, or retirement, there is no better method to secure a sound financial future than to invest. Young or old, there is no better time to start investing than now.

"Investing is fun. It's interesting.

It can put you on the road to prosperity for the rest of your life. . . ."

Learn to Earn gives you the expert guidance you need to make the right start. Lynch and Rothchild cover the gamut on investment fundamentals and principles, from choosing stocks, to picking a broker, to reading an annual report. Learn to Earn reveals how to decipher the stock pages and how to evaluate the pros and cons of the five basic investment vehicles —savings accounts, collectibles, houses or apartments, stocks, and bonds. Yet, there is much more to investing than just the principles, and there is much more to Learn to Earn than just the fundamentals. Opportunity comes in many forms, from many sources, with many histories. Brimming with stories and parables, Lynch and Rothchild also explain:

  • Why the world as we know it would collapse without investors . . .
  • How capitalism, from the time of the American Revolution on, has shaped the past, and how that affects us today . . .
  • How Coke, Campbell's Soup, Ben & Jerry's, Microsoft, and other big companies got started, who gets rich from them, and how they got that way . . .
  • How to know the real story behind the price of a stock

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (April 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471180033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471180036
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for young readers and beginners in finance and investments. The first part of the book covers American Economic History. It then goes on to describe the effects of time value of money as well as the historical upward trend of the market. This is very encouraging for those who are skeptics of the stock market. But this book does not cover any valuation models and in lacks depth to its coverage of fundamental analysis. If you are looking to learn more about investing from scratch, here's a good start. But, make sure that this is not the only book you will read in investing.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Cochran on April 3, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is clearly geared towards young readers, not adults who are looking at investing seriously for the first time.
If your teenaged child is open to it, why not do precisely what this book suggests -- the two of you could join an investment club and learn about investing together. You could buy stock as custodian for your child each time the club meets. If you attend the meetings together it will rapidly teach your child the wisdom of saving and investing.
This book is marginally useful for adults. I bought 2 copies with the intention of giving one to my elder daughter and learning a bit about investing myself from the second. My 401K plan is doing so well I would like to start investing on my own.
There is too much history for adults looking to start investing. It ought to be replaced with more how-to advice -- such as how to read a balance sheet. There is an appendix chapter on this, but it could be greatly expanded.
The book could use updating on internet resources of use to investors. For example, I'd like to find software that will help me manage and track stock picks as I begin the training part which is so important to successful investing. Andrew Tobias' Managing Your Money used to have an excellent stock portfolio manager. I'd love to see something like this again which can automatically update portfolios with closing prices. I'm sure there is software out there -- but the book doesn't point out good software titles!
In short, this 5-year old book is a useful introduction geared for young readers. Adults already interested in investing can check it for useful advice. It badly needs updating to reflect investing now in the last year of the decade. Perhaps revisions could be posted to the web in addition to selling a revised print version.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Earl on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was absolutely excellent. Not only was it very readable, it is also written in easy to understand investment terms. It should be required reading for all high-school students. Provides an excellent "kick in the pants" incentive for people to get into the great world of stocks and mutual funds. The first half of the book gives a fine history of how the stock market got started and the second half explains the hows and whys of investing. The best thing about this book is it makes you want to invest and that's always a good thing, particularly if you go into it for the long term.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zhigang Suo on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the beginning of the book, the authors remarked that high schools have forgotten to teach one of the most important courses of all: investing. History we teach, but not the roles that innovations and companies have played. If you missed this important course in your formative years, then this book is for you. The book is fun to read, and cheap to own.

The book has four chapters.

Chapter One reviews the history of capitalism. You will find how stocks got started in Europe centuries ago. You will also learn how, more than a hundred years ago, Europeans invested in the then emerging market: The United States. Their sorrows and joys perhaps will give you some perspective when you invest in today's emerging market in China. You will also read about bubbles in the history, not just the one before the Great Depression.

Chapter Two covers the basics of investing. The discussion here is mostly intended for people who can invest money for a long time. The basic points here are that you should start invest early, and that stocks are the best performer among various investment options.

Chapter Three outlines the life of a company. It helps the investor to begin to think like the owner of a company.

Chapter Four tells the stories of many companies.

There are two Appendices, one on stockpicking tools, the other on reading balance sheet.

The book was published in 1995. Much of the material is timeless. However, if the authors decide to write a new edition, they might want to add more materials about internet. For example, a beginner can use a web page like [...] to track the performance of stocks and portfolios that he or she has picked, without investing any real money. Also, internet has significantly changed the procedure for the individual investor to move money around.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By kiko on November 21, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My friend lent me this book and I'm so glad he did. I'm a beginner in investing and didn't have a clue about stocks or investing. This book was very concise and clearly written for a beginner investor. I've tried to read other books and either got bored or confused and stopped reading. This one I couldn't put easy to read! I learned A LOT! The chapter on the history of capitalism was also interesting and helpful -- even for someone with a bachelor's in economics. I plan to buy my own copy! Most importantly, it taught me the importance of NOT spending money and investing in it instead!!! AFter reading the book, I stopped wasting money! I plan to read more of Peter Lynch's books!
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