Joel Greenblatt’s The Little Book That Beats the Market is an impressively straightforward and action-oriented investing book. It’s also a pleasure to read. It’s based on Benjamin Graham’s principles but it gets the point across in less than two hundred pages and uses simple examples that a middle school kid could understand. The author also has a track record to prove his theories (he’s founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital, a fund with quite a record).
The things I love most about the book are:
1. It has a common sense formula
2. It explains why it’s common sense
3. It has easy action steps
My only issue with the formula is that you have to switch stocks in one year cycles, however, perhaps if a stock maintains its ratios it could be kept again. The stats on returns are amazing, but even better is that the formula isn’t just random, it actually makes sense.
Basically the secret of the book is this: buy companies that have a high ratio of earnings to capital invested (ie. if two businesses both cost 500k to start and one makes 250k and the other makes 100k a year… which is a better investment?) and to buy companies that have a higher earnings yield (ie. if two companies both sell shares at 10 dollars, but one company earns 1 dollar for that share and the other company earns 2.50 for its share… which is a better investment?).
The coolest thing is that there’s a website that helps you find such companies: MagicFormulaInvesting.com.
Even if this book took a week to get through (it only takes an hour or so) The Little Book That Beats the Market is definitely worth your time.
Here’s a more detailed review.