H&W in the Media

The Valuable World of Value Investing

US news

If you look up “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham on Amazon.com, you’ll find that 69 percent of the 1,100 or so reviewers give it five stars, while 13 percent dismiss it with one, two or three stars. How many of those unimpressed reviewers would rather follow a hothead like Jim Cramer the website doesn’t say.

But perhaps those naysayers missed the one review that trumps them all: the one from billionaire Warren Buffett. He calls “The Intelligent Investor” “the best book about investing ever written.” That dovetails nicely with the squib of a far lesser known reviewer, one “Paige Turner,” who dubs it “Shakespeare for the Investing Crowd.”

Turning the page from Graham’s 1949 book to now, value investing boasts Buffett as its most famous proponent. And while he has countless disciples, the Oracle of Omaha was in turn a Graham groupie himself; after reading “Investor,” he went to study under Graham at the Columbia Business School.

Granted, value investing, like so many a term culled from the world of finance, has a faint ring of jargon to it for some newbie investors. Poke behind the name, though, and value investing has principles that are fairly easy to understand – if hard to stick by in a go-go age of instant gratification 2.0 (otherwise known as instant instant gratification).

“In its simplest form, the valuation of the stock of a given company can be calculated by viewing its current price versus its book value,” says Kevin Mahn, chief investment officer at Hennion & Walsh in Parsippany, New Jersey. “If the price is below its book value, one can infer that it’s undervalued – and if the price is above its book value, one can infer that it’s overvalued.”

And to make the most of this, value investors such as Buffett subscribe to a strategy known as “buy and hold,” which is exactly what is sounds like: Buy a stock and hold onto it, often for years or decades.

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