• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Introduction

Introduction

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Albert Einstein

This is a book about analyzing stocks.

The process of writing this book turned out to be a huge educational experience for me. I thought that I knew something about the subject when I started. After all, I'd been teaching it, writing about it, and doing it for years.

I had pored over scores of investing how-to books by famous and not so famous gurus and studied their teachings. I meticulously researched how I would have fared if I had followed their strategies in the past. Based on their work, I synthesized and tested my own strategies.

In the process of researching this book I interviewed 15 professional money managers and market analysts. I had never met any of them when I started. I found some because they managed best-in-class mutual funds with solid long-term market-beating performance records. Others were market analysts or private money managers practicing innovative strategies that I'd heard about from other professionals or through their own writings. About half of those I contacted graciously agreed to talk to me.

In truth, I may have misled them. They probably thought I was writing one of those books that features a single guru per chapter, a sort of minibiography describing their childhood, working style, office environment, as well as their investing methods.

I didn't do any of that. I focused our conversations on just three areas: (1) how do they identify investment candidates, (2) how do they analyze them, and (3) how do they decide when to sell.

I had interviewed money managers before, but not at that level, and not in this context. It was an on-the-job learning experience, and I flubbed the first couple, in terms of asking the right questions. But after a while, I got the hang of it.

Interviewing a money manager is a lot different from reading a book they've written, or hearing them speak. For starters, you don't have to go over the same ground if you've already read their works, or heard descriptions of their methods. Instead, you can zero in on the details, asking questions like: How do you define overvalued? How do you identify good management? How do you pinpoint an industry's strongest player? What are your sell signals?

Often the conversations took me to unexpected places. For instance, I was unaware of Porter's Five Forces Model before Nicholas Gerber gently brought it to my attention (by the time Ken Shea mentioned it a week or so later, I responded as though it were old hat). The Porter model inspired the business plan evaluation strategy that became Tool #5.

Some interviews led me to academic research that I'd always assumed was just too, well, academic, to be of interest. That's how I discovered the work of University of Chicago Business School professor Joseph Piotroski, whose research inspired the fiscal health exam featured in Chapter 10.

Perhaps my biggest surprise concerned value investing. I could never figure it out before. I'd read the books packed with data proving that low P/E stocks outperform glamour stocks, but I could never make it work. The turkey's P/Es just kept getting lower after I bought them. After interviewing several money managers, it hit me that what they did bore little resemblance to what I'd read about value investing. They weren't buying low P/E stocks. They were buying great companies that had stumbled! There's a world of difference between those two approaches.

The wealth of information that these market experts and researchers so kindly shared with me forms the basis for what follows. But being an ungrateful sort, I didn't give them their deserved recognition by describing each of their strategies separately. Rather, I distilled them into the combined analysis tools and strategies that make up this book.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint