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The Intelligent Investor: The Classic Text on Value Investing Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2005
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More than one million hardcovers sold
Now available for the first time in paperback!
The Classic Text Annotated to Update Graham's Timeless Wisdom for Today's Market Conditions
The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham's philosophy of "value investing" -- which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies -- has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.
Over the years, market developments have proven the wisdom of Graham's strategies. While preserving the integrity of Graham's original text, this revised edition includes updated commentary by noted financial journalist Jason Zweig, whose perspective incorporates the realities of today's market, draws parallels between Graham's examples and today's financial headlines, and gives readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham's principles.
Vital and indispensable, this HarperBusiness Essentials edition of The Intelligent Investor is the most important book you will ever read on how to reach your financial goals.
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Top customer reviews
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Bad bad choice. It was like choosing between a Beethoven CD and the same CD but with free shrieking commentary by a Damon Wayans movie character during and in between each symphony.
Zweig's writing when inserted between Graham's is like the annoying paperclip in MS Office, except there is no way to turn it off. He's in the footnotes (virtually every page!), he's in between every chapter. Open the book at a random page, and most likely you'll open it to a Zweig page.
The content and style of his writing feels condescending and contrasts so much with Graham's. When reading Graham you have elegant timeless prose by a humble, wise man who makes you feel he is sincerely interested in your well-being. By contrast, Zweig feels like someone who wants to impress you with his word plays, and puns. He really should have attempted to recede into the background and limited his voice.
I would recommend everyone to just buy the hardcover edition.
Buy Graham only. If you cannot read Graham, Zweig will only help marginally, and you still need to verify his comments against other contemporary Graham commentators. Get another book. If you *can* read Graham, then you do not need the commentaries in this book. Any questions you may have can be answered in thousands of sites on the net.
Ben Graham clearly invested in the stock market during a period of hustlers, crooks, crashes, and frauds. Brokers, investment bankers and analysts back then were not much more than fast-talking salesmen. Wait a minute, that sounds just like the way things are today on Wall Street! Things may not have changed as much as we would like to think. Due to his travails as an investor in difficult markets, Ben Graham's investment style evolved into a systematic, logical approach which became the basis for value investing. In "The Intelligent Investor", Graham lays out the foundation of value investing by three introducing key principles: the idea of "Mr. Market", a value-oriented disciplined approach to investing, and the "margin of safety" concept.
The stock market on a daily basis resembles a casino, only without the comfort of free cocktails. Watching the stock ticker is like having a business partner that is totally schizophrenic; Graham calls him "Mr. Market." One day he loves the business and wants to pay a ridiculous price to buy out your half. The next day, all hope is lost, and he wants to sell you his portion for pennies on the dollar. Graham argues that this daily liquidity is an advantage that most investors turn against themselves: (p. 203) "But note this important fact: The true investor scarcely ever is forced to sell his shares, and at all other times he is free to disregard the current price quotation. He need pay attention to it and act upon it only to the extent that it suits his book, and no more. Thus the investor who permits himself to be stampeded or unduly worried by unjustified market declines in his holdings is perversely transforming his basic advantage into a basic disadvantage. That man would be better off if his stocks had no market quotation at all; for he would then be spared the mental anguish caused him by other persons' mistakes of judgment." This is profound. It's not a question of whether our stocks will drop; they will: the trick is how we respond to that eventuality.
Ben Graham's Stock selection for the defensive investor.
Graham lays out some important characteristics of "value" stocks. (p. 348). Some of the metrics are dated, but the principles are still valid. Even deep value investing today would seem like GARP investing to Ben Graham. Investors are now more focused on future earnings than they were in his day, and valuations reflect that. Graham recommends:
a. Adequate size of the enterprise (>$100M revenue, old figure)
b. Sufficiently strong financial condition (2:1 current ratio)
c. Earnings stability (some earnings every year last 10 years)
d. Dividend record (uninterrupted payments for at least 20 years)
e. Earnings growth (1/3 increase in per share EPS past 10 years)
f. Moderate price/earnings ratio (P/E < 15x average last 3 years EPS)
g. Moderate ratio of price to assets (price/book < 1 1/2 times)
h. Overall stock portfolio, when acquired, should have an overall earnings /price ratio- the reverse of the P/E ratio - at least as high as the current high-grade bond rate. A P/E no higher than 13.3 against an AA bond yield of 7.5%
Margin of Safety as the central concept of value investing.
This is an investment rule that was written by a man who had been deeply bruised by bear markets. I believe he came up with this by learning from his losses. When the market turns into a storm of feces, like it inevitably will, if the stock has no earnings to rely on, you have nothing to grab onto. You can't make yourself stay in the stock when the price is down. Graham says: (p. 515) "The margin of safety is the difference between the percentage rate of the earnings on the stock at the price you pay for it and the rate of interest on bonds, and that is to absorb unsatisfactory developments". Furthermore he writes: (p. 518) "The buyer of bargain issues places particular emphasis on the ability of the investment to withstand adverse developments. " You can and will still lose money in the market with value-oriented investing, but according to Graham: (p. 518) "The margin guarantees only that he has a better chance of profit than for loss-not that loss is impossible."
So that's it, those are the three basic points of the book, but you should still buy it and read it, it's a very enjoyable experience, Shakespeare for the investing crowd. Despite being a realist, Ben Graham wasn't a total pessimist. Late in the book Graham makes a point that is one of my favorites: (p. 524) "A fourth business rule is more positive: "Have the courage of your knowledge and experience. If you have formed a conclusion from the facts and if you know your judgment is sound, act on it- even though others may hesitate or differ. You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right. Similarly, in the world of securities, courage becomes the supreme virtue after adequate knowledge and a tested judgment are at hand. "
This latest updated 623-page paperback (the index alone is 33 pages) version updated by Jason Zweig is a welcome addition to this classic. The original chapters are intact, but with footnoted comments by Zweig. Moreover, he provides his own commentary on each chapter contents in a separate chapter following each original chapter. He provides extensive research, charts, tables and commentary that updates the book to the present years. He is not afraid to take on the big guns of Wall Street and show how wrong they were in some of their extremely bullish predictions during January-March 2000, when the market was at its peak.
The first nine chapters cover investing basics that all investors could benefit from. There are many truisms spouted on Wall Street that are not really true. These chapters provide the investor with a realistic picture of how Wall Street works and what investors need to do to come out ahead.
Chapters 10-20 focus strictly on fundamental analysis, stock selection, convertible issues and warrants, and other subjects. Investors who plan to invest directly in stocks should make sure to read these chapters. However, for readers more interested in investing in mutual funds, and in particular index funds, they need not concern themselves with all the detail in these chapters unless they have the time or interest in the subject matter presented.
In conclusion, the combination of pioneer Ben Graham?s original work coupled with Zweig?s meticulous and enjoyable update, make this a remarkable book about investments and investor behavior that every new and experienced investor should read. Of the 500 investing books that I?ve read, this one certainly is one of the greats of all time.