Book reviews

Page
Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business. An enjoyable read for analysts and investors; plenty of sample valuations of well known private and public companies used repeatedly throughout the book to emphasize the connection between the more qualitative (story-telling) and quantitative sides. See some notes and quotes here
Book of Value: The Fine Art of Investing Wisely. An excellent book for value investors from which I shared some of my notes here
Inside the Investments of Warren Buffett. Here is the review summary I posted at Amazon: Portfolio manager Yefei Lu’s “Inside the Investments of Warren Buffett” pairs very nicely with Professor Cunningham’s “Berkshire Beyond Buffett” (2014) — both published by Columbia Business School Publishing. I think most value investors will agree that Lu’s book is an informative, fast-paced read. It covers 20 investment cases that are divided in three parts (Buffett’s partnership years, the middle years of 1968-90, and the more recent years through 2014). While some additional depth would have been nice for some of those select cases, e.g. National Indemnity (a critical investment as concerns Buffett’s/BRK’s early and continued capitalizing on float), See’s (Buffett and Munger’s leap into higher return on capital investing from NAV-based) and BNSF (the increasing importance of capex-depreciation float), this is a minor shortcoming compared to the very readable format and consistency with how the cases were presented (e.g. financials available at the time of investment were printed for each for reference). I also enjoyed Lu’s thoughts near the end about moats.
Berkshire Beyond Buffett. I reviewed this excellent book in segments. Follow along starting here, second set of notes here, and most recent, here
Business Adventures. Thank you, Bill Gates, for letting the world know that this is your favorite business book. And thank you, Warren Buffett, for recommending it to Bill. I suppose the only question is why did you, Bill, (and Warren) hold out on the rest of us for so long? See my first set of notes here and additional notes here
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. In John Train’s The Midas Touch (Amazon; recent post), published in 1987, he describes Warren Buffett as 85% influenced by Benjamin Graham and 15% by Philip Fisher. After re-reading Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and typing up 15+ pages of notes (round 1, here) to substitute for a future re-read, I am convinced that Buffett is much closer to 85%-Fisher and 15%-Graham, and he was arguably already leaning more Fisher-like than Graham when Train began writing about him. Put Common Stocks on your reading list and consider a re-read if it’s already on your shelf. 
The Manual of Ideas: The Proven Framework for Finding the Best Value Investments is a real gift from author (and investor), John Mihaljevic, to the global value investing community. If you are a value investor and haven’t heard of the monthly publication, The Manual of Ideas (link), then you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Likewise, if you’ve read any of the books mentioned below like Security Analysis (and/or Intelligent Investor), Marty Whitman’s work or professor Penman’s, then there’s no better time for the MOI book. My review at Amazon.

My review of Columbia University Business School professor Stephen Penman’s, Accounting for Value, appears on SeekingAlpha.com. “Similar to Graham & Dodd, and Martin Whitman, Penman adds to the repertoire of value investors.”

Bernard Baruch (1870 – 1965) published his memoirs, My Own Story, in 1957. I was pleasantly surprised by his account of his career on Wall Street, learning that he was not so much a speculator — which then, and now, carries a negative connotation — but clearly a very astute investor. A delightful autobiographical read. [Click here to read my review.]

Classic, timeless Martin Whitman — an unwavering value investor. Read The Aggressive Conservative Investor before reading his Value Investing: A Balanced Approach. (See review link of the latter below; click here to read my review of Aggressive Conservative.)

Benjamin Graham: The Memoirs of the Dean of Wall Street, is a refreshingly candid story of the man (1894 – 1976) most investors associate with his value investing classic, Security Analysis. His memoirs are not to be read for takeaways to improve one’s investing methods. Rather, his memoirs serve as the story behind the composition of a truly brilliant, multi-talented man, who with fortuitous timing uncovered an opportunity in mis-priced securities that led to a highly successful career in investing. [Click here to read my review.]

Corporate Valuation for Portfolio Investment: Analyzing Assets, Earnings, Cash Flow, Stock Price, Governance, and Special Situations (2010, Bloomberg Press), is an ambitious effort by coauthors Robert A.G. Monks, a renowned shareholder rights activist, and Alexandra Reed Lajoux, an M&A expert. They cover a lot of ground in around 540 pages. The book was intended primarily for institutional investors, but is certainly accessible to students of finance, and individual investors stand to gain from a lot the material as well. [Click here to read my review.]

Value Investing: A Balanced Approach” (1999) — don’t let the date of publication fool you into thinking Martin Whitman’s (Third Avenue Management) approach is dated. In his interviews over the past few years one hears the same terms and mindset as described in the book. Whitman distinguishes between true value investing and what he calls OPMIs. This book is a treasure for devoted value investors. [Click here to read my review.]

Graham & Dodd’s classic, Security Analysis: Principles and Technique, is an invaluable reference for investors and analysts. I reviewed the fourth edition, which was published in 1962. The timing of their fourth installment following the massive bull market of the 1950s provides a timeless look at the challenges value investors face. Security Analysis is required reading. [Click here to read my review.]

Steven Rattner’s Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry will not disappoint readers with its poignantly detailed narration of the harrowing events surrounding the fate of two of the Big 3 U.S. automakers. [Click here to read my review.]

John Nyaradi’s Super Sectors: How to Outsmart the Market Using Sector Rotation and ETFs challenges the conventional wisdom of buy-and-hold while making a compelling case for active investment management. [Click here to read my review; here to see Q&A follow-up.]

Christopher Dillon’s Landed: The guide to buying property in Japan, is a must-read, not just for those considering buying a property in Japan, but also for individuals who are already homeowners, those who may be interested in refinancing, and there’s even something to be learned by long-term residents who are renting. In the very least, Landed is a ready-reference for the aforementioned individuals, and for investors who stand to gain from a better understanding of how real estate works in Japan. [Click here to read my review.]

Enzio von Pfeil, the author of Trade Myths: Globalization has left trade balances behind, is a Hong Kong-based investment advisor and he also manages his own family of funds. As someone who has followed Enzio’s work for the past several years, I can confidently say that Trade Myths is as iconoclastic as he intended it to be and with sound reason, not to mention its critical timeliness. [Click here to read my review.]