Customer Reviews: The Money Masters
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on December 12, 1999
I studied Ben Graham, Warren Buffett and Phil Fisher fairly carefully and came to this book after the fact. And I was surprised how thoroughly John Train neatly encapsulates the approaches of these investment masters. The chapter on Ben Graham may in fact be the definitive place to start one's study of this great thinker's initially intimidating body of work.
I'd give the book 5 stars, but the author sometimes uses finance terms loosely when clarity is absolutely critical (when he's describing key financial insights). For instance, in the chapter on Warren Buffett, Train notes that one of the ways Buffett distinguishes winners from losers via the balance sheet is to make sure payables are more than offset by receivables. Train's description appears to provide a key insight, but it's vague to the point of being meaningless. (He does it again in his follow-up book THE NEW MONEY MASTERS when in a discription of how Train's firm estimates approximate growth in unit sales from financial statements, he writes that he multiplies "the retained operating margin on sales and the turnover rate of gross operating assets.")
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on December 8, 2013
Interesting read, building a picture of finance a little but mostly interesting for being informative on the economic history of the 70's and 80's and for the insight it offered into the lives and thoughts of a group men just before the 90's.

1. Jim Rogers - top down investor. Finds countries that have more potential than is generally believed. Short countries that everyone is bullish on. 1. improving. 2. better off than commonly accepted. 3. convertible currency. 4. liquidity. You have to be right as well as different. there has never been as rapid a depreciation/debasement in resevere currency as is happening. the trick to getting rich is correctly sizing up suply and demand. dont lose money. if you do not know the facts, dont play. ben graham - buy a stock when it simply cannot get cheaper. Jim - buy when things will get better.

2. Micheal Steinhardt - strategic trader. "You never make big money in the market without getting in the way of danger" When long - low multiple dull stocks, laggards with recovery potential. When short - best known companies, the arenas of speculative focus, short the whose who? there is so much debt in the world, it will be repudiated and turned equity.

3. Philip Caret - Money Mind. Wants low D/E. If current ratio is low avoids; better than 2-1 in current ratio. no term debt. nothing with a mkt cap below $50m. mgt must own stock. 1. never less than 10 stocks in 5 fields. 2. asess every 6 months. 3. 1/2 of funds in incomne producers. 4. yield is least important factor in analyzing stock. 5. take losses quickly, profits slowly. 6. only invest where u can get details. 7. avoid inside info. 8. get facts not advice. 9. no mechnical formulas. 10. when stocks are high get 50% intofixed deposits. 11. borrow sparingly. 12. keep some cash. mildy pessimistic letter from chairman is good.

4. George Soros - short term volatility is the greatest at turning points and diminishes as a trend becomes established. by the time all the players have adjusted to a set of rules, the rules will have changed again. the essence to understanding markets is actuall an understanding of how the rules are evolving. a bull market survives and rises aboove a number of tests until it appears invulnerable, theit is ripe for a bust. when a stock reflects two pressures, one favourable and one unfavouable, one or the other pressure will prevail in its valuation as the market does assume a neat middle ground, but rather discounts one or the other alternative; so you have to keep both in mind and be prepared for both. the consumer is the last strong component of the economy. fundamental valuation holds that price reflects assets and underlying value, but it too can affect value in a virtuous cycle. reflexivity - perceptions change events which then change perceptions. particpants have an imperfect understanding - fog of war. reflexivity operates best between lender and collateral (the act of lending increases the value of the collateral the loan is based on - this cycle is thrown into reverse in the bust) and regulator and economy (the least regulation is apparent during credit expansions - this is followed by excess regualtion after the bust). classic eoconomic theory does not hold in markets in which there is wide public participation which ebb and flow with group passion. the concept of equilibrium in classical eocnomics is a myth - buying and selling is based on expectations.

boom and busts follow a cycle
1. unrecognised trend
2. self reinforncing reflexive process kicks in
3. a TEST passed
4. growing conviction
5. divergence between reality and perception
6. climax
7. mirror image self reinforcing cycle in opposite direction.

trend is your friend but contrariness is sig of investor. u know you are getting a bargain if there are no other buyers.

5. Old Money - new money that has learned to survive.

6. George Michaelis - apostle of ROE. markets play the meeting of emotion and intelligence. if you have a weak serve there is no point in coming in to the net behind it - low risk tolerance. buy earning power at a discount. high roe and roa - analyze where does it come from? wana feel for a stock? own it.

7. John Neff - discipline patience and income. bird in hand is the dividend. more certain. a good manager sells more quickly when things are going wrong - even though it is hard to admit that you were wrong. hunt a bargain. low d/e, good cashflow, above avg roe, good mgt, good outlook, god product/service, strong market. leave some on the table.

8. ralph wanger - A. look for good small companies in growth sectors. B. look for trend leaders that will benefit most from trend.

9. peter lynch - has in portfolio - growth, underpriced assets, special situations and depressed cyclicals, defensives in downward market.

growth or value? growth captures a premium in slow times, value captures a discount in growing times.
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on February 27, 2002
If you want to read a concise book about the investment styles and philosophies of historic "golden age" investors this book might be the one for you. Any student considering asset management as a career should read this one as well as The New Money Masters, its counterpart that highlights investors post 1975 or so.
I would encourage everyone to understand the difference from this book and its latter brother, the NEW MONEY MASTERS. This book is primarily focused on investors that became household names via the companies that are their legacy such as T. Rowe Price, John Templeton and Warren Buffett. Other notable investors are Paul Cabot, Philip Fisher, Benjamin Graham, Stanley Kroll, Larry Tisch, and Robert Wilson. If you want to know how the experts do it, this is a great anthology to get you started. Listen to the best and forget the rest!
Both of Train's books are in the form of interviews he has with them. Train's writing is crisp and entertaining, and his interviews uncover many pearls of wisdom applicable to any investor's philosophy.
The Money Masters covers the origins of the value and growth philosophies of investing that many managers practice variations of today. The sections on Ben Graham and Sir John Templeton both outline the development of the fundamental approach to valuation as well as its original application in stock markets throughout the world. Phil Fisher and T. Rowe Price represent the two most celebrated proponents of what has come to be known as the growth strategy, adding the additional rigor of another layer of criteria to the value-style approach. Warren Buffett stands as one of the first great synthesizers of the ideas of both Graham and Fisher, while other investors like Larry Tisch represent variations on one particular strand, in Tisch's case that being value-investing.
If anyone is interested in books on the people behind the financial industry read Money Masters, New Money Masters, Predators Ball, Money Culture, Den of Theives and F.I.A.S.C.O. 25 Investment Classics and Goldman Sachs: the Culture of Success are other notable books. I gave the book 4 stars because; while it was very concise and well written I didn't find any information within the book that was of great help to me. It was entertaining and informative but not ground breaking or made me say "AH HAH" or have that light bulb go off in my head.
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on August 1, 2015
A very good book that caters to those who want to have basic knowledge about investing legends such as Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Phil Fisher, John Templeton etc. In addition to reading this compendium,I would recommend reading books by the masters themselves: "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham,"Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits" by Phil Fisher and " The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America" by Lawrence Cunningham( Buffett hasn't authored a book yet)
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on June 30, 2012
I first read John Train's "The Money Masters" in 1981 as a novice investor. Today, 31 years later, I pull that book from my bookshelf and reread the same hardcover copy that is full of my margin notes from back then. There is no question that Train does an admirable job eliciting timeless investment guidance from the Money Masters that he interviewed way back then.

The investors interviewed are these.

1. Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (his name virtually unknown when this book published), 2nd wealthiest man in the world. Strategy: buy when others are fearful, sell when others are greedy.
2. Paul Cabot, grew Harvard's endowment by 500% over 17 years, net of contributions. Strategy: similar to Buffett.
3. Philip Fisher, the most famous early Silicon Valley investor outside venture capital; author of Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. Strategy: do your homework, buy emerging technology stocks, hold forever.
4. Benjaman Graham, the ultimate value investor; author of Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor. Wiped out in the 1929 crash but came back years later. Warren Buffett's mentor. Strategy: buy stocks below hard or tangible book value.
5. Stanley Kroll, successful commodity speculator. Strategy: systematic trend follower (totally ignores news and fundamentals); author of The Professional Commodity Trader.
6. T. Rowe Price, founder of T. Rowe Price Associates mutual funds, the largest of its time at $6 billion. Innovator of the "T. Rowe Price approach." Strategy: seek fertile fields for growth, and then hold growth stocks for long periods of time.
7. John Templeton, founder of Templeton Growth Ltd., became a billionaire by pioneering the use of globally diversified mutual funds. Strategy: buy at the point of maximum pessimism.
8. Larry Tisch, Chairman of Lowes Corporation. Strategy: pragmatist, buy at business cycle bottoms, whatever will have the biggest bounce.
9. Robert Wilson, independent trader. Strategy: short-selling bubble popper, works with the beaters (brokers) to fleece the pidgeons (retail investors).

Other reviewers do a good job summarizing the book's content and comparing investor styles (see Dan Ross' review). What others do not mention is that John Train is a Money Master himself which lends a bias to his conclusions about various investment styles.

Here are some key lessons the author draws from his interviews that are relevant to investors today.

- Let the public have the big ideas, the exciting theories--and sell them your stock. Let the public get panicked and disillusioned--and buy the stock back again. (Paul Cabot and Larry Tisch)

- Quantify the present. Refuse to be distracted by a vision of the [illusory] future. (Benjamin Graham)

- Focus on the difference between what the public is thinking now, in its euphoria or despair, and what it will find out when it recovers from its present fit and has had a second look at the facts. (Robert Wilson)

- It is sufficient to be a master of one game, rather than trying to learn two or three, as long as you retire to the sidelines when the game you know is no longer being played. You don't need to understand both growth and value investing, for instance. (John Train)

- One should abandon unattainable objectives, such as trying to make money in short-term trading, so-called technical analysis, or investing according to a set of formulas, particularly if they require a computer to apply. If there is a true formula it will fit on the back of an envelope. (John Train)

- Since buying what the crowd spurns and selling what the crowd craves is the essence of the master investor's art, it follows that he must be serenely able to to the opposite of the herd. This goes directly against human nature. Although this concept is widely known, very few people are able to do it. (John Train)

Each investor in the book has certain traits in common with the others:
- He is realistic.
- He is intelligent to the point of genius; or else
- He is utterly dedicated to his craft.
- He is disciplined and patient.
- He is a loner.

This book is a valuable contribution to any investor's library. Train has memorialized the core investment process of nine of the most successful investors of his era. His comparison of their style and conclusions about what works and what does not work are timeless. You can't go wrong learning from the best.

I rate The Money Masters a 4-star book. I deduct one star over the fact that the interviews are written as narratives rather than in a question and answer, conversational style, that I might find more entertaining and informative.
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on January 1, 1999
The Money Masters by John Train describes the winning strategies of nine excellent investors.  The investors described include:Warren Buffett, Paul Cabot, Philip Fisher, Benjamin Graham, Stanley Kroll, T. Rowe Price, John Templeton, Larry Tisch, and Robert Wilson.  If you want to know how the experts do it, this is a great anthology to get you started. Listen to the best and forget the rest!
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on February 10, 2000
Perhaps the best place to start learning about investing. Read the conclusions first, then read the book, then re-read the conclusions. Peter Lynch said he read this book 3 times. I have read it probably 5 times over the years (Lynch may have caught up by now). I would give this more than 5 stars if I could. After reading the Money Masters, then you may be ready for The Intelligent Investor (Graham), A Random Walk down Wall St (Malkiel), & Where are the Customers Yachts (Schwed). then start investing for real. VERY readable, VERY enjoyable, BEST insights.
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on February 18, 2011
In this book, John Train details the lives and asks about the investing strategies of nine great investors. This is I think the right approach to learning about something, the apprentice method. All too often, investment books start with sophisticated math, ignore the human element, and have a dogmatic and psuedo-scholarly approach.

John Train's book is none of these. He details the lives of some of the greatest investors of this century, if not ever: Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Phil Fisher, John Templeton, and others. Yet not everyone can follow Train's approach with equal success. He has a real gift for grasping the essence of a situation, and the importance of character and philosophy in success. Moreover, he grasps investing for what it is - a zero sum game, where some win and some lose, and that those who win use successful strategies and have superior characters to their adversaries.

There is I think objectively no better introduction to the thought of these great men. Moreover, this book is eminently readable, and a book that you will come back to over and over again as you read and compare and contrast the writings of these individuals. Train's understanding is surprisingly deep, subtle but not pedantic, and he writes with grace and conviction. It is great stuff!
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on March 31, 2013
Item was received on time and was as described. I had no problems in the purchase or in receiving this product.
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on February 28, 2016
Best book on investment ever written. Still applies today.
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