The Intelligent Investor The D – Benjamin Graham Jason Zweig

Review From User :

Benjamin Graham's last line in The Intelligent Investor sums up the entire book in his trade-mark common-sense way: " To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks."

First published in 1949, this version that I read was re-published in 2005 with a forward written by John Bogle who started Vangard Mutual Fund. Bogle's forward serves as a very good summary of The Intelligent Investor, highlighting key points clearly. So I found it useful to read the forward again after finishing the book as a quick refresh of its content.

Graham's language may be a bit old fashioned, so some may find his writing style takes a little bit of getting used to. However, once I got my pace of reading going, I find the old fashion style gives me a sense of comfort and assurance - as if a grandfather was sharing all his valuable experience with me. Certainly good things stand the test of time, just as sound values: "Sound investment principles generally produced sound investment resultswe must act on the assumption that they would continue to do so."

Graham is very clear form the start that he is not writing for speculators but for the layman who wants to have a sound approach to grow his weath steadily. He believes that lay investors can achieve "a creditable if unspectacular result with a minimum of effort and capabilitysince anyone - by just buying and holding a representative list - can equal the performance of the market averages"

He warned those who tries to beat the market, as many smart people have tied to do this and failed. How he explained this makes a lot of sense to me - every stock market broker thinks he can outdo the market. That means the stock market experts as a whole is trying to beat itself - a logical contradiction. They just cancel each other out.

Thus, one should not rely on a financial advisor who promises the sky and raise your hopes that he can do better that the market average. That, claims Graham, is not possible.

"The real money in investing will have to be made, as most of it has been in the past, not out of buying and selling but out of owning and holding securities, receiving interest and dividends and benefiting form their longer-term increase in value."

Graham chastises average investors for their sloth and ignorance, for willingly giving up their responsibility and rights as business owners to management. This, he feels, is due to the institutionalisation of financial services which has left investors a step removed from ownership.

He disagrees with the commonly held view that "If you don't like the management, sell the stock." He feels this does nothing to improve bad management, only puts down the price of the stock and shifts the ownership to someone else. "Investors as a whole seem to have abandoned all claim to control over the paid superintendents of their property."

Ultimately, it is important for investors to give themselves a margin of safety by buying a stock at a price that is lower that its appraised value and to diversify the portfolio. These would put the investors in good stead, as against speculators.

I like this book. It does not give you many formulas for security analysis (Graham says you can read further in his earlier book Security Analysis). What The Intelligent Investor does is that it lays the foundation for laymen by giving a sound approach to investment, written with common sense and simplicity.

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