Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond: Book Review

Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond: Book Review

Several months ago, I was walking in my bedroom, and in a stack of books that we frequently give as gifts, I saw the book Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond.  I said to myself, where did this come from?  I looked at it, and realized that hadn’t read it.  I looked at the copyright date, and realized that 2001 is a relatively old book.

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So I read the first chapter, decided it was good stuff, and added it to the reading pile.  As some might know, I am a value investor, and recently I wrote an article called “Value Investing Flavors.”  In it, I took a broad view of value investing, because there are many common principles to value investing employed by all, but many variations on implementation. [Note to those reading at Amazon; they don’t me post links, but if you Google “Aleph From Graham to Buffett and Beyond” you will find it.]

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The book begins with unified principles of value investing: margin of safety, buy ing an asset cheap, etc., but moves on to different ways to implement value investing, depending on the types of companiesthe investor wants to analyze.

There are three ways to do the analysis for value investing:

  • Re-estimate the fair value of the assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.  This applies best to companies where converting resources to a better use would be compelling.
  • Estimate the normalized earnings power of a slow growing company.
  • For a company with a moat, a sustainable competitive advantage, conservatively estimate the path of growing earnings.

I listed the three of them in the order of increasing aggressiveness of analysis, and the amount of work that would need to be done to be assured that there is an opportunity.

After this, the book writes about eight notable value investors, who come from the various camps inside value investing, and puts more flesh on the bones as to the implementation of each method.  I immediately recognized the names of 6 of the 8 value investors.

But what I found most useful were the insights of the investors that would buy small companies.  You can buy ugly situations that are misunderstood, and wait for management to turn the ship around.

This book was a good balance between theory and practice.  I enjoyed this book.  I think most amateurs wanting to learn about value investing would benefit from it.



Who would benefit from this book: Amateur value investors will benefit from this book; if the reader does not want to put the effort into learning value investing, this book will be of no use to him.  If you want to, you can buy it here: Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond (Wiley Finance).

Full disclosure: I have no idea where I got this book.

If you enter Amazon through my site, and you buy anything, I get a small commission.  This is my main source of blog revenue.  I prefer this to a “tip jar” because I want you to get something you want, rather than merely giving me a tip.  Book reviews take time, particularly with the reading, which most book reviewers don’t do in full, and I typically do. (When I don’t, I mention that I scanned the book.  Also, I never use the data that the PR flacks send out.)

Most people buying at do not enter via a referring website.  Thus Amazon builds an extra 1-3% into the prices to all buyers to compensate for the commissions given to the minority that come through referring sites.  Whether you buy at directly or enter via my site, your prices don’t change.

By David Merkel, CFA of alephblog


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David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.
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