Generally, the most successful people in the world are also voracious readers. This is also true of the most successful value investors.
Both Warren Buffett (who used to read 1,000 pages a day when he was starting out) and Charlie Munger (who often advises young investors to “develop into a lifelong self-learners through voracious reading”) credit their habit of reading as a major contributor to their success. Ben Graham was an even more prolific reader than his successors – he would often quote the Latin and Greek classics and once translated a Spanish novel into English.
I also come across a lot of queries from many of our blog readers about books to read to understand investing better. So, here is an effort to collate a list of 10 such books which I feel is a must read for all investors.
If you only ever read one investment book, then let it be The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. There’s a reason why Graham is called the “Godfather of Value Investing.” Benjamin Graham was probably the most influential investing figure of the 20th century, and The Intelligent Investor is probably the most influential investment book of all time. The Intelligent Investor is the value investor’s bible… keep this one on you always.
If The Intelligent Investor is the value investor’s bible, then The Essays of Warren Buffett are the value investor’s New Testament. Warren Buffett has been writing essays about investing and business for 50 years, and his genius – combined with his down-to-earth charm and clear prose – makes him perhaps one of the greatest educators as well as one of the greatest investors to have ever lived. Many of these essays can be found for free online, but The Essays of Warren Buffett by Lawrence Cunningham brings them all together under one roof.
Bruce Greenwald is the Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management at Columbia University and is one of the leading authorities on value investing. This book gives the most comprehensive overview of value investing of any investment book I’ve read, covering general techniques of value investing as well as profiles of successful value investors such as Warren Buffett and Mario Gabelli.
Jeremy Siegel‘s nickname is the “Wizard of Wharton” (he’s been teaching there for 45 years). His investment book Stocks for the Long Run is sometimes called “the buy and hold Bible.” The book makes the convincing argument that – after you account for inflation – equities are actually the safest investment in the long run, proving the point that most people should be long-term, passive investors in the stock market.
Investing is all about common sense. Owning a diversified portfolio of stocks and holding it for the long term is a winner’s game. Trying to beat the stock market is theoretically a zero-sum game (for every winner, there must be a loser), but after the substantial costs of investing are deducted, it becomes a loser’s game. John C. (“Jack”) Bogle is the founder of the Vanguard Group and creator of the world’s first index fund, and The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is a top recommendation of Warren Buffett’s. There’s actually a funny story that when Jack Bogle first met Warren Buffett, Jack recognized Warren, went up and introduced himself, and he said to Warren, “you know the thing I really like about you is you have rumpled suits just the same as I do” – and Jack and Warren have been good friends ever since.
Mary Buffett is Warren Buffett’s former daughter-in-law and her book Buffettology provides a good introduction to Warren Buffett’s investment approach. The book offers profiles and analysis of 54 “Buffett companies.” Read it for the qualitative discussion of Buffett’s investment style, and skim the mathematical chapters (which I didn’t find to be as useful).
Peter Lynch is one of the most successful investors ever – from 1997 to 1990, his Magellan Fund averaged a 29.2% compound annual return. In One Up on Wall Street, Peter Lynch explains how average investors can beat the pros by using what they know. According to Lynch, investment opportunities are everywhere: from the supermarket to the workplace, we encounter products and services all day long. By paying attention to the best ones, we can find companies in which to invest before the professional analysts discover them.
Studying Michael Porter is one of the first things you do in business school. Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter has transformed the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy throughout the world. This book introduces Porter’s 5 Forces to help investors analyse industry attractiveness, as well as the 3 forms of a company’s strategy – low cost, differentiation, and focus.
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of our financial system, from its genesis in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. What’s more, Ferguson reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history, arguing that the evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilisation. This is a great overview of all things money and a nice introduction to the world of finance.
Daniel Kahneman is a professor of behavioural & cognitive psychology at Princeton, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for economics, and author of the best-selling book on cognitive biases and heuristics: Thinking Fast & Slow. This book explains the natural biases that affect our judgment in everyday life, as well as in investing. If you want to be a great investor, then it’s critical to be aware of the biases and tendencies. This is a fascinating book, and Kahneman himself is actually the subject of Michael Lewis’s next book The Undoing Project.
The original article is written by Mastermind, Megabaggers and appears here.
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Even with a time machine, a lot of people wouldn’t want to own the best-performing stocks.
Monster Beverage (NASDAQ: MNST) was the best-performing stock from 1995 to 2015. It increased 105,000%, turning $10,000 into more than $10 million.
But this isn’t a retrospective about how you should wish you owned Monster stock. It’s almost the opposite.
The truth is that Monster has been a gut-wrenching nightmare to own over the last 20 years. It traded below its previous all-time high on 94% of days during that period. On average, its stock was 26% below its high of the previous two years. It suffered four separate drops of 50% or more. It lost more than two-thirds of its value twice, and more than three-quarters once.
That’s how the stock market works.
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Santa knocks on all our doors not once, but four times a year. During his off-season, he reliably shows up bearing profitable gifts on February 14th, May 15th, August 14th and November 14th. These are the deadlines for 13-F filings with the SEC.
The “13-F” is a quarterly disclosure required of all individuals and entities who have $100 million or more invested in US equity markets. The 13-F is due within 45 days of quarter-end and lists the updated stock positions of the managers. These filings are publicly available at no charge to anyone. Websites like Dataroma make it a breeze to track the picks of various value investors. There is such a thing as a free lunch.
Non-believers will complain that buying these picks after a multi-month delay simply can’t work because markets are too efficient. Well… not so fast. A 2008 study by Professors Gerald Martin and John Puthenpurackal entitled, Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, cloned Berkshire Hathaway’s equity portfolio between 1976 and 2006 by investing in the positions with a substantial delay. Their cloned portfolio always bought (or sold) on the last trading day of the month that it was publicly disclosed that Buffett had bought a new stock or lightened up on an existing one.
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“There is one other rule you ought to keep in mind and that is to concentrate, and not only in the Zen sense. Sweet are the uses of diversity, but only if you want to end up in the middle of an average” Adam Smith, the Money Game 1968
“Statistical analysis shows that security-specific risk is adequately diversified after 14 names in different industries, and the incremental benefit of each additional holding is negligible. We own 18-22 companies to allow us to be amply diversified but have the flexibility to overweight a name or own more than one business within an industry.” Mason Hawkins
“Empirical testing has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the “riskiness” of a portfolio of 12-15 diverse companies is little greater than one loaded with a hundred or more” Frank Martin
“If you can identify six wonderful businesses, that is all the diversification you need. And you will make a lot of money. And I can guarantee that going into a seventh one instead of putting more money into your first one is gotta be a terrible mistake. Very few people have gotten rich on their seventh best idea. But a lot of people have gotten rich with their best idea. So I would say for anyone working with normal capital who really knows the businesses they have gone into, six is plenty, and I probably have half of what I like best. I don‘t diversify personally. ” Warren Buffett
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There are literally tens of millions of stock market and private investors today. The personal investing revolution has enabled anyone with a few hundred dollars to trade stocks. But we don’t have millions of great investors. Only a select few will ever be bestowed this title. So, how can you try to be one of them? You can emulate the people who were – or still are – the greatest. Below is our list of 8 of the greatest investors of all time; let us know in the comments below if you think we’ve missed out on any important names.
This list was compiled based on inputs from our members of Value Investing Clubs in UK, France, Belgium and Austria, and from our users at our FinTech company CityFALCON. Our focus at the Value Investing Clubs and CityFALCON remains on long-term fundamental investors who are looking to go through research to buy, hold and sell financial assets to generate strong higher than inflation returns.
We will just start off with the obvious case: Warren Buffett. Who doesn’t consider him one of the greatest, if not the greatest investor? Born just in time for the Depression (1930), Warren Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska, whence he eventually took his nickname “The Oracle of Omaha”.
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Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is out with its annual letter to shareholders.
Near the bottom of the letter, the billionaire investor touches on his favourite reads of 2016.
“The best book I read last year was ‘Shoe Dog’ by Nike’s Phil Knight ,” he writes. “Phil is a very wise, intelligent and competitive fellow who is also a gifted storyteller.”
He adds that Omaha, Nebraska-based retailer The Bookworm will have “piles” of the book, in addition to “investment classics by Jack Bogle,” at the annual Berkshire shareholder meeting in May.
Notably, Buffett is actually briefly mentioned near the end of “Shoe Dog.”
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It was a $1 million bet: Could hedge funds outperform index funds over a decade?
Warren Buffett said no in 2007. Now it looks like the billionaire investor was right.
His chosen index fund, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares, climbed 66% from the start of the bet through the end of 2015, compared with a gain of 22% for a basket of hedge funds selected by asset manager Protégé Partners, including fees.
The $1 million bet with Protégé Partners ends Dec. 31. At this point, it would take a massive stock-market drop for Mr. Buffett to lose. An extended bull market and sub par performance by many hedge funds since the 2008 financial crisis have helped his case.
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If you already have a million dollars or more, this blogpost is not for you.
For all others, I’ll cut the bullshit and get to the chase. I am just mighty pissed off.
When you have less than a million dollars –
Please don’t listen to any or all the Gurus who are propagating 16% CAGR, 18% CAGR, 20% CAGR. You know the usual spiel. Say, you have 5 Lakh rupees. Gurus recommend that you should be happy be 18% CAGR or 20% CAGR and over a long period of time (40 years), you would be so rich, that even the rich would be ashamed.
For all those studies, where you read that if you had invested in quality at any price, and just held on to them for a long period of time (40 years), you would have made enough money to be proud of yourself.
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Many of the great investors evolve over time to focus on high quality companies. In the post ‘Evolution of a Value Manager’ I outlined how Buffett, with insight from Munger and the acquisition of See’s Candy transitioned from seeking cheap companies [ie cheap PE/, price/book etc] to trying to purchase high quality companies at reasonable prices. Li Lu and Mohnish Pabrai are two Buffett disciples who have made a similar transition.
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