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Security Analysis: The Classic 1934 Edition
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235 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, Security Analysis - one shy of 700 single spaced pages without a single picture other than a smiling Mr. Graham on the cover - appears not for the faint of heart. Inside, however, lies the single greatest book on investing ever written, which remains remarkably readable, insightful and timely nearly seven decades after its first edition. Graham, a successful investor in his own right, was also a highly effective and influential teacher (one of his students named Warren Buffett has done quite well), and his methods and language are refreshingly clear and (believe it or not) concise. The length of the book is due to the breadth of its content, not to any wordiness or unnecessary diversions.
Graham (and his collaborator Dodd) meticulously and methodically builds a framework for the analysis and decision-making necessary for truly good investment decisions. Step-by-step, they lay out a general approach and philosophy for investment (as quite distinct from mere speculation) followed by the systematic analysis of fixed income, convertible and equity securities (i.e., bonds, converts/preferreds, stocks); a detailed discussion of financial statements; and a description of certain underlying differences between the intrinsic value of a business and its fluctuating stock price. As a result, the reader emerges with a solid philosophy and approach for his or her own investments and the analytical tools to make actual buying and selling decisions.
This book is neither a get-rich-quick scheme nor an empty academic exercise. Graham does not set out to justify or theorize about the market. Instead, he sets out to counsel the student on the profitable investment in individual securities. Security Analysis contains dozens of case studies and lessons that are just as relevant today as in the post-1929 aftermath, including particularly misleading technical analyses, dangerous justifications for the valuations placed on hot new companies and the dilutive effects of stock options. As other reviewers have noted, Graham has been a towering figure in Finance, influencing Warren Buffett and countless other successful investors, and yet the lessons contained in this book are repeatedly ignored by far greater numbers of individuals and professional investors. The methodologies and rationale for justifying dot-com and telecom valuations in recent years, for example, are strikingly similar to the new stock issues Wall Street marketed (and people bought) just as eagerly in the late 1920's.
The book does show its age in some respects. While the principles underlying Security Analysis are completely sound today, there have been important changes in the market as well, such as the pervasive use of stock options as compensation, the unprecedented access to information (useful or otherwise) enabled by the Web, the heightened awareness around corporate governance issues (and the resulting influence of large institutional shareholders, such as pension funds) and the spectacular growth in mergers and acquisitions, which has at the very least added layers of accounting complexity. In addition, Graham relies perhaps too heavily on seeking out unpopular bargain issues based on asset value. In today's environment, and partly as a result of accounting limitations, companies are driven as much by knowledge intensity as by asset intensity. A strict Graham approach may preclude considering promising companies whose value lies primarily in intangibles not captured on the balance sheet, such as in the form of brands (Coca Cola), distribution process (Dell) or market position (Microsoft).
As a result, I recommend the following books as enhancements to the core principles articulated in Security Analysis:
* The Intelligent Investor - Written by Graham in the early 1970's with some assistance from his former student Buffett, he adds several decades of wisdom and experience, including greater discussion of technology companies, mutual funds and market cycles.
* The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America - A kind of Greatest Hits of Buffett's essays, primarily drawn from his annual Berkshire Hathaway letters to shareholders, this is an extremely useful, funny and brilliant collection spanning a wide range of corporate finance, investment and general business thought. His commentary on some of Graham's key concepts, such as Mr. Market and Margin of Safety, combined with his own current, real-life case studies and innovations make this a must-read.
* Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits - Philip Fisher was, according to Buffett, his second greatest influence after Graham, and this book fills in much of the qualitative analysis of businesses that the analytical Graham places relatively less emphasis on. Fisher is particularly keen on analyzing companies which rely heavily on R&D and new products to generate continuous growth.
Happy investing!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book was made famous by Warren Buffet, but you probably already know that. Will it teach you to invest like Warren? Yes, the fundamentals are there and so are the valuation techniques. In today's rough and tumble world, it's hard to say that it still applies. On a very basic level, yes it does.

Security Analysis: The Classic 1934, has been dubbed as an endless source of insight when it comes to investing. Written by two gurus- Benjamin Graham and David Dood this book will awaken the sleeping investor in anyone. Knowing that they taught Warren Buffet his technique has made them famous in the financial world.

The book was written in 1934 just 5 years after the collapse of the stock market in 1929, and right about the time of the Glass-Steagel Act which changed the ethics of the stock market and how they were regulated. Benjamin’s idea was to teach people about the basics of investment by providing insights of what one should look out for in a business that they wish to invest in. Can you get through all these 725 pages? Yes you can, but it will not be an easy read like the Hunger Games.

If you do get through it, you will possess a book written nearly 8 decades ago that has sage insights. You will learn of a framework to follow before rushing into any investment. Also, you will be able to discern a business that looks profitable but in hindsight it is clutching on straws and in the verge of bankruptcy. After reading this book, you will have learned the basic philosophy and principles of investment in the stock market. You will be equally equipped with the tools (mostly analytical and philosophical) that will help you make decisions regarding investments. The difference between investment and speculation, discussion and analysis are all outlined. The reason it is important to know these differences is because the business segment during news time never explain them and so is school. Benjamin will make you understand the meaning of these and other terms his book in a very practical manner.

Warren Buffet was Benjamin’s student and if not for anything else, this alone should serve as a motivation for anyone to take up this book and read it. Be warned though, the book has no single picture and it’s a big book. Luckily for us the book has no filler words and everything written in the book makes a lot of sense which is interesting. There are also other editions of this book, but this particular edition retains all the ‘Old Ben’s’ teachings which is why it is worth every dime. The book is also not a get rich quick scheme. The book only provides insight on what the real investment market looks like and the decisions you should make before making an investment and hence the name of the book-‘Security Analysis’.

If you have ever been duped into making an investment or sheepishly following the crowd to make an investment that turned out to be fake, then grab a cup of coffee and be educated by this man Benjamin Graham and his co-author David Dood, all who seem to have travelled to the future as this book is still very relevant.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Someone wrote reviews to this book indicating that the major downside to it is its age. The book was written in 1934 therefore it misses all the modern developments of finance - modern portfolio theory for example - and all the new techniques that Wall Street "experts" use today.
As an answer I give an anecdote from Warren Buffett's life:
When stock investments started to become popular, the volume increased ten fold, and the modern techniques to make a profit were developed, Warren Buffet was extremely worried. He remembered what happened in 1929. He loathed the new trends in investment that tried to predict the future price of a stock. Therefore he had a meeting with all his fellow Graham students, he expressly forbid to bring anything newer than the 1934 edition of Security Analysis.
This happened decades ago, but history repeats. We all know what happened 3 years ago. We all know how "experts" thought that the market was booming, and how they let it crash. We all know how they made a profit on the money that private investors lost.
Nowadays when I go shopping for a book I always look at the date of pubblication, if it is between 1997 and 2000 I'm very wary. All those books about "new economy", "digital era", "e-commerce", "dot coms", etc. have to be taken with the maximum attention. Usually they contain a lot of inflated ideas that as we look at what happened after they were written we understand how much those "experts" really understand about stock investments.
If they were wrong then, why should they be righ now?
Trust me, but more importantly, trust Graham, trust Buffett, (those that have been consistently right for 50 years) this is the book to buy, "anything newer looks suspicious."
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77 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
My star rating is for the 1934 edition, but this review may appear for other editions of the book.

The 1934 edition came out before the creation of the SEC and deals with a lot of accounting irregularities that are not such a problem today. I suggest you buy a newer edition.

Some people seem to have a preference for the 1940 edition. The 1951 edition was the first one written after the Great Depression, so it dealt with businesses in a more normal economic environment. The 1962 edition was the last written directly by Graham and Dodd, but it is currently unavailable. The 1988 edition is the most recent edition of Security Analysis, but it was updated by other authors years after Graham had died. The 1988 edition is the one currently used as a textbook for Columbia University's Security Analysis course.

Update: Since I wrote my review, the sixth edition of this book has been published. Apparently, it is essentially the 1940 edition with commentary from some of today's most notable value investors.
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71 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Although it is fun to read Graham & Dodd's First from the context of historical perspective, there is more to this volume than history. When I first learned that Warren Buffett keeps and peruses EACH edition of Graham & Dodd's "Security Analysis", this struck me as a sort of silly fanaticism. But anyone who takes the time to read more than one edition of "Security Analysis" will understand why Buffett probably keeps all four. For better or worse, each edition has some gem which may not be found in the other volumes. In the first, for instance, there is a section on rights offering analysis which can't be found in the 3rd and 4th editions (I've actually never been able to get my hands on a second edition, so I don't know whether the equation he offers in in the 2nd or not).
I'm not sure if this would be the first "Security Analysis" volume I'd try to tackle (the 3rd is probably the best...Graham participated less actively in the 4th), but if you are comfortable enough with security analysis terminology to know what is antiquated and what is not in this 1934 text, you will not be sorry you made the effort to buy and read it.
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43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is book has been updated many times (through the fifth edition). If you have read the latest edition, and believe you have read anything like the original, go back and read this one. Once you have read 'Old Ben', you will find other editions very disappointing. That could be why Warren Buffet suggested going back to the original if you want to know what value investing is all about.
Current investment practice, and later editions of this book concentrate on the one thing that Graham said was, if not impossible, very non-productive - estimating future earnings. This book concentrates on understanding proven value. Where one spends most of its time on the income statement, this book spends most of its time on the balance sheet. There is a world of difference, and the difference leads to a much different portfolio, and future.
There is, as the author points out repeatedly, a difference between investment and speculation. There is also a difference between helpful discussion and meaningful analysis. The original edition is full of meaning, written by a practitioner who also could teach. Later editions (especially the fifth) make me wonder how much of the master's works the new authors read before starting. It also makes me question how much influence Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette and Autanet exercised in return for their grant to finance the book.
If you want a great book on investing read the original. It will give you much more insight and at least twice as much 'food for thought'.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Like some investors today, I am a student of Warren Buffett, "the Sage of Omaha". Mr. Buffett claims that Ben Graham taught him much of his strategy to picking the right stocks. Buffett has read this book at least 12 times, according to some sources. Read this book and perhaps you will profit from it, too. And sleep better at night! The book gets 4 stars only because his examples can be rather tedious with math and companies from the 1930's. Graham is a terrific writer and easy to read, though.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Graham is a patient logical thinker who explains his methods meticulously.Don't look here for a get rich quick scheme.If you love the markets, and already have a basic knowledge of stocks and bonds,this book will give you a good base of reference to discern true value and keep from being caught up in the latest fad.Written with the benefit of hindsight after the Crash of 29,it is a must read.It is not light reading,yet sticking with it proves very rewarding.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Go buy the classic 1934 edition. The informal style of the 1934 edition can be easily read and understood by just about anyone. If that one was good enough for Warren Buffet, it's good enough for the rest of us. This latest edition reeks of academic arrogance and is poorly written with points that ramble on forever with no conclusion and examples that make no sense. The 1934 edition has some outdated examples but its concepts and forecasts are so true that you'd swear it was a historical perspective written in recent years.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Eventhough this book is over 65 years old it is still as relevant as ever, maybe even more so. With all the hussle and bussle of the day-traders and the momentum style investors, it is a nice change of pace to read a book based on common sense, buiness-style investing. Read his words, understand his philosophies, and you will profit!
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