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Buffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett The Worlds Paperback – June 8, 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Americans are infatuated with the stock market. The number of households that own stock has increased from around 20 percent in the early 1980s to over 40 percent today. The market offers the hope of quick wealth and early retirement, and just about everyone who is in the market is looking for an edge, from sources such as CNBC and Wall Street Week to the Beardstown Ladies and "The Motley Fool." So it should be no surprise the most successful investor of our time--Warren Buffett--has been the subject of dozens of books and magazine articles. The value of Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, has increased from $18 per share in 1965 to over $70,000 per share today. The interest in Buffett has spawned an approach to investing called "Buffettology," which is the subject of a book by the same name written by Buffett's former daughter-in-law, Mary Buffett.

In Buffettology, Mary Buffett, with the help of David Clark, details Warren Buffett's approach to investing. It's a style of investing based on the work of Benjamin Graham and one that requires a quality that most investors lack--discipline. Mary Buffett writes, "As you read through this book you will come to see that having a business perspective on investing is more about discipline than philosophy.... In short, other people's follies, brought on by fear and greed, will offer you, the investor, the opportunity to take advantage of their mistakes and benefit from the discipline of committing capital to investment only when it makes sense from a business perspective.... You will find that almost everything that relates to business perspective investing is alien to Wall Street folklore.

Buffettology examines Buffett's methods for valuing companies and selecting stocks--it even encourages you to buy a calculator and work through the valuation formulas that Buffett uses when researching companies to buy. The book not only serves as a useful guide to understanding how Buffett invests, it's an excellent primer to investing in stocks, whether you plan to become a Buffettologist or not. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards, Business editor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Stevin Hoover Hoover Capital Management Absolutely the best book ever written on Warren Buffett's investment methods.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st Fireside Ed edition (June 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068484821X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684848211
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a mixed blessing. I have read a stack of investing texts over the last 10 years, and this is the first to introduce the concept of purchasing a stock on the basis of a calculable return, as one would any other investment such as a bond or T-bill. For this alone the book is worth reading.

It's also a very enjoyable read. I couldn 't put it down. However, part of what made it so rivetting was the promise that the author(s) will (1) teach me exactly how Warren determines which companies to buy, and (2) the later chapters would teach me in detail how to value a stock and determine what price to pay for it just as Warren does. Unfortunately, the first promise falls a little short, and the second promise proves to be a flat-out lie.

Problem 1: She tells us the math is so complex that she had to enlist the aid of a second author to help with that part of the book. But the math turns out to be junior high school level stuff. She shows us a couple of way theat one CAN attempt to calculate a reasonable price for a stock, but does NOT show us how Warren does it, nor does she show any current examples of how we can go about to a stock today.

Problem 2: The truth is, she doesn't know how to apply Warren Buffet's techniques, because if she did, she would have included at least one CURRENT example (at the time of printing). She would have chosen a stock and explained why it is a great investment and would have told us what price to pay for it, and would have shown how she made these determinations. After all, that is why we are interested in learning Warren's methods, so we can buy excellent investments TODAY. Merely showing us how much money he made on some stock he bought 20 years ago doesn't prove that she knows HOW he did it.
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Format: Paperback
Probably the best of the Buffett books. Mary isn't part of the Buffett gang anymore, so she doesn't have anything to protect, just plenty to tell.
Mary Buffett and David Clark spell out Buffett's methodology as well as anybody. But once you get into the meat of the book, you realize that Buffett had (and has) a lot of advantages over most other investors. That, in and of itself, doesn't take away from the genius behind the method, just that you aren't going to approximate his returns without a lot of luck.
Particularly interesting is that many of his "great" purchases were made either when the market had momentarily beaten down a good company, or when the market in general was on the ropes. Both situations recall the sage advice to "buy when blood is running in the streets." Sadly, most investors are usually loaded up with stocks (and paper losses) and without the wherewithal to buy more when these panics hit.
That's where Buffett's business strategy comes in. By investing heavily in insurance companies early and often, he's the beneficiary of a steady stream of cash, ready to be put to use whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The authors' advice to mimic Buffett in seeking out consumer "monopolies" with intangible assets is good; "an unregulated monopoly that the world hasn't recognized yet," as they say. However, thousands of Wall Street's brightest are hard at work all day and into the night looking for those same jewels. So you'll have plenty of competition.
Two problems arise from this type of book. The first is that the assumptions made about the expected growth of earnings/dividends over the course of the next 10 years can easily go astray. The business environment is changing rapidly. Long-range predictions haven't held up well recently (and frequently don't).
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Format: Paperback
Although I agree with some reviewers about the origin of the book I believe it should be judged by its merits rather than by whether or not Mary Buffett is capitalizing on her relationship with Buffet's son. The book makes a great deal of sense actually and I have made a great deal of money in the stock market using methods almost identical to those espoused in the book.
However, the authors fail to explain why low debt, high return on equity companies are so attractive. They dance around but never hit the correct answer. This makes me wonder if they really understand it. For the reader's future reference, once this simple fact is truly understood the investor is on his or her way to understanding investment. Another difficulty is that there are mathematical errors in the book and simplistic mathematical calculations. But the errors induced thereby are not large and no one seems to realize that the calculations are just a poor man's replacement for calculus. As someone with a extensive mathematical background I find this perfectly acceptable. Quite frankly, I have never needed more than simple algebra to understand investments anyhow so restricting the reader to this is good. Also, some sections of the book wander about somewhat aimlessly trying to explain rather simple concepts. I just think the authors don't have a quantitative background. As I said above that is ok but these concepts can be explained better in words than they are in the book.
Finally, other reviewers are correct. Mary Buffett using Warren said this and Warren said that etc. throughout the book grates after a very few pages.
But in the final analysis the book is worth the time and effort.
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