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The Intelligent Investor

The Intelligent Investor

4.0 88
by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig (Joint Author)

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More than one million hardcovers sold
Now available for the first time in paperback!

The Classic Text Annotated to Update Graham's Timeless Wisdom for Today's Market Conditions

The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham's philosophy of "value investing" -- which shields investors


More than one million hardcovers sold
Now available for the first time in paperback!

The Classic Text Annotated to Update Graham's Timeless Wisdom for Today's Market Conditions

The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham's philosophy of "value investing" -- which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies -- has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.

Over the years, market developments have proven the wisdom of Graham's strategies. While preserving the integrity of Graham's original text, this revised edition includes updated commentary by noted financial journalist Jason Zweig, whose perspective incorporates the realities of today's market, draws parallels between Graham's examples and today's financial headlines, and gives readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham's principles.

Vital and indispensable, this HarperBusiness Essentials edition of The Intelligent Investor is the most important book you will ever read on how to reach your financial goals.

Editorial Reviews

Warren Buffett
“By far the best book on investing ever written.”
“If you read just one book on investing during your lifetime, make it this one”
“The wider Mr. Graham’s gospel spreads, the more fairly the market will deal with its public.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Collins Business Essentials Series
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.44(d)

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Investment versus Speculation: Results to Be Expected by the Intelligent Investor

This chapter will outline the viewpoints that will be set forth in the remainder of the book. In particular we wish to develop at the outset our concept of appropriate portfolio policy for the individual, nonprofessional investor.

Investment versus Speculation

What do we mean by "investor"? Throughout this book the term will be used in contradistinction to "speculator." As far back as 1934, in our textbook Security Analysis,1 we attempted a precise formulation of the difference between the two, as follows: "An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis promises safety of principal and an adequate return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative."

While we have clung tenaciously to this definition over the ensuing 38 years, it is worthwhile noting the radical changes that have occurred in the use of the term "investor" during this period. After the great market decline of 1929-1932 all common stocks were widely regarded as speculative by nature. (A leading authority stated flatly that only bonds could be bought for investment.2)

Thus we had then to defend our definition against the charge that it gave too wide scope to the concept of investment.

Now our concern is of the opposite sort. We must prevent our readers from accepting the common jargon which applies the term "Investor" to anybody and everybody in the stock market. In our last edition we cited the following headline of a front-page article of our leading financial journal in June1962:


In October 1970 the same journal had an editorial critical of what it called "reckless investors," who this time were rushing in on the buying side.

These quotations well illustrate the confusion that has been dominant for many years in the use of the words investment and speculation. Think of our suggested definition of investment given above, and compare it with the sale of a few shares of stock by an inexperienced member of the public, who does not even own what he is selling, and has some largely emotional conviction that he will be able to buy them back at a much lower price. (It is not irrelevant to point out that when the 1962 article appeared the market had already experienced a decline of major size, and was now getting ready for an even greater upswing. It was about as poor a time as possible for selling short.) In a more general sense, the later-used phrase "reckless investors" could be regarded as a laughable contradiction in terms-something like "spendthrift misers" — were this misuse of language not so mischievous.

The newspaper employed the word "investor" in these instances because, in the easy language of Wall Street, everyone who buys or sells a security has become an investor, regardless of what he buys, or for what purpose, or at what price, or whether for cash or on margin. Compare this with the attitude of the public toward common stocks in 1948, when over 90% of those queried expressed themselves as opposed to the purchase of common stocks.3 About half gave as their reason "not safe, a gamble," and about half, the reason "not familiar with." It is indeed ironical (though not surprising) that common-stock purchases of all kinds were quite generally regarded as highly speculative or risky at a time when they were selling on a most attractive basis, and due soon to begin their greatest advance in history; conversely the very fact they had advanced to what were undoubtedly dangerous levels as judged by past experience later transformed them into "investments," and the entire stock-buying public into "investors."

The distinction between investment and speculation in common stocks has always been a useful one and its disappearance is a cause for concern. We have often said that Wall Street as an institution would be well advised to reinstate this distinction and to emphasize it in all its dealings with the public. Otherwise the stock exchanges may some day be blamed for heavy speculative losses, which those who suffered them had not been properly warned against. Ironically, once more, much of the recent financial embarrassment of some stock-exchange firms seems to have come from the inclusion of speculative common stocks in their own capital funds. We trust that the reader of this book will gain a reasonably clear idea of the risks that are inherent in common-stock commitments-risks which are inseparable from the opportunities of profit that they offer, and both of which must be allowed for in the investor's calculations.

What we have just said indicates that there may no longer be such a thing as a simon-pure investment policy comprising representative common stocks-in the sense that one can always wait to buy them at a price that involves no risk of a market or "quotational" loss large enough to be disquieting. In most periods the investor must recognize the existence of a speculative factor in his commonstock holdings. It is his task to keep this component within minor limits, and to be prepared financially and psychologically for adverse results that may be of short or long duration.

Two paragraphs should be added about stock speculation per se, as distinguished from the speculative component now inherent in most representative common stocks. Outright speculation is neither illegal, immoral, nor (for most people) fattening to the pocketbook. More than that, some speculation is necessary and unavoidable, for in many common-stock situations there are substantial possibilities of both profit and loss, and the risks therein must be assumed by someone. There is intelligent speculation as there is intelligent investing.But there are many ways in which speculation may be unintelligent...

1. Benjamin Graham, David L. Dodd, Sidney Cottle, and Charles Tatham, McGraw-Hill, 4th. ed., 1962.

2. This is quoted from Investment and Speculation, by Lawrence Chamberlain, published in 1931.

3. In a survey made by the Federal Reserve Board.

What People are Saying About This

Warren Buffett
“By far the best book on investing ever written.”

Meet the Author

Benjamin Graham (1894-1976), the father of value investing, has been an inspiration for many of today's most successful businesspeople. He is also the author of Securities Analysis and The Interpretation of Financial Statements.

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The Intelligent Investor 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With more than one million copies sold and an endorsement on the cover by Warren Buffet, you know there has to be something to this book- and I think I know why. Simply because it is the first book ever to describe the emotional framework and analytical tools necessary for financial success for individual investors.

Probably the single best book on investing written for the lay-public and the stock market bible since its first appearance in 1949, it's a great resource, although it's quite a thick book and filled with detail- and probably not for anybody but the serious stock market investor. And if getting motivated to start investing is your problem, suggest The Sixty-Second Motivator. Good luck!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to read Ben Graham's Intelligent Investor, try the original without the Zweig commentary. The commentary often contradicts Graham's philosophy, and at best, confuses everything. The Graham part is loaded with useful advice that has years of practical experience behind it, but the Zweig advice is the typical financial crap found in any current periodical. My advice - don't buy this watered down version of the Intelligent Investor - buy the real thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This classic book on investing belongs on the bookshelf of every investor. The principles that Benjamin Graham outlines are the very precepts that guided such great investors as Warren Buffett, and such mutual fund innovators as John Bogle, the noted Vanguard Group founder, who wrote this edition's foreword. First published in 1949, the text shows a few signs of age, most notably in its discussion of interest rates, investment vehicles such as savings bonds and other time-sensitive subjects. However, those are minor issues. When Benjamin Graham writes about categories of investors, approaches to security analysis, the proper disposition investors should have toward market moves, and other fundamental investment subjects, his advice is timeless. We highly recommend this seminal book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I mean come on, Graham wrote this book!! Plus, its probably the most influential book he has written in his career. But lets get the facts straight, he wrote the original version. The updated version that has been revised by Zweig should have never been released. I am currently half way through the book and im not going to stop now, but I do wish I would have started with the original version. Zweig is too critical and conservative to start trying to undermine the concepts behind Graham. In Chapter 11, under security analysis 'should be one of the most influential chapters in the book' Zweig makes a sidenote that explains Warren Buffet's methodology of investment is too risky so all individual investors should go with a market index fund. A market index fund? Come on dude, you act like your talking to a 13 year old who is looking to invest his Bar Mitvah money. Let's get real on the subject and stop trying to go against Graham's methods of valuing an individual stock. Especially in his own book!!!! Jeez. I encourage all investors to read the original version of Intelligent Investor, and I will also suggest that Jason Zweig sticks to writing for Money magazine.
ColinB More than 1 year ago
One might wonder, why (s)he should read a book on investing written in 1949. How would such a thing be relevant to today's stock market? How much of it would still apply to 2010? Just about all of it. Graham started his Wall Street career in 1914, and was all but wiped out in the infamous 1929-32 mother of all bear markets, a painful experience from which he learned many important lessons. He says that, just as information relating to securities in 1914 would make strange reading in 1949, so would information in the first edition of his book make strange reading today. However, the information relating to bull and bear markets, the nature of the stock market as a whole and the insane behavior of investors will all remain the same, without end, Amen. Also, he warns, you must have a knowledge of stock market history, and what better way to get one than a book written originally in 1949 with periodic updates ending in 1973? Graham does not talk like he is some sort of a Wall Street prophet (which actually he was). He does not sermonize, he does not admonish, he does not accuse. But he does make a crystal clear definition of the "intelligent" investor: that it is more a trait of character than of the brain. He states that many who have brought great intellect (in the non-Graham definition) and enthusiasm to investing have ended up bust in the end, as they acted just like all the other little lemmings jumping suicidally together off of the cliff that is Wall Street. You can have a stratospheric IQ and a Harvard degree and still be mentally retarded by Graham's definition. Do not expect "The Intelligent Investor" to be some sort of a "how to make a million on Wall Street" book. He talks of the "defensive investor" who must expect adequate and gradual returns out of his or her investments; and of the "enterprising investor" who will make a little bit more than their defensive counterpart, not because his or her IQ is higher, or they bought risky growth stocks, but only because of the extra effort and research brought to the table. Even the enterprising investor must not expect to make gargantuan returns, sadly, and Graham is just being a realist. Try swinging for the fences on every pitch and you'll end up like those lemmings I mentioned. The only confusion I have over the 1949 edition of the Intelligent Investor, is the question of FOR WHOM this book was written. As Bogle says in the forward, the trading volume on the Big Board was 2,000,000 shares per day. That is about how many Americans actually owned stock in the 40's and 50's, most of which were of above average means and wealth. So maybe he was only expecting to print 2 million copies?? For whomever this book was originally intended, it applies to ALL OF US who want to invest in stocks and bonds and other investment vehicles, even if the Big Board traded 2 BILLION shares yesterday and 90 million Americans own stock or mutual funds in 2010. Let's just hope those 90 million Americans have read Graham. Or maybe not: he says you can profit off of their insanity. So much for the better.
DFleishman More than 1 year ago
The Intelligent Investor is an essential reference book to have within your investing repertoire. The insights provided are both timeless and highly relevant in this fluctuating market and the added update sections help even the most novice investor understand how to translate Graham's teachings into everyday practicality. I read this book during business school and continue to re-visit it every so often when I am looking for new ways to alter my portfolio. I hope that everyone can enjoy this book as much as I have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ben Graham wrote the book on it... literally! What do you look for when shopping for anything? Something that fits your needs, has the style/color/etc you want, and combines the best of quality and price. This is effectively what Mr. Graham is outlining in his book, but he goes on to explain HOW to look at a company/stock/bond to determine if in fact it is that combination of quality and price. He teaches you how to shop for investments by showing you what to look for, not just in the stock/bond, but in the underlying company that the investment reflects. While his writing style took me about 50 pages to get the feel of, it was more an adjustment of mindset than anything. The commentary by Jason Zweig gives relavent modern examples of a book that spans decades, yet is still relavent today.
Joms-Viking More than 1 year ago
Mr. Graham was writing to re-legitimize long term stock investing after a period of economic chaos. The book is a classic and will be on any serious investors shelf. This man would be the logical counterpoint to a writer like Joseph Livermore, who was geared more to stock speculators. Those two writers are the Polar Opposites of the current advice on the market. It is good advice, I have made money off of both writers and they have more than paid for themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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"I'm pretty sure no one does. It's a hard topic to decide where you stand." She replied.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Graham's book will always be relevant to new investors. Jason Zweig's commentaries add much value with the supplementary information from more recent events. The principles are working for me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
his was given to me by my boyfriend and by far still one of the best books about stock trading for the long and safe term. :) Another good pick for guides on financial goals. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I made many mistakes before reading this book and understanding "Mr. Market" as Graham calls it. It gets detailed, which is admirable when you are dealing with a detailed subject, but it is also a delight to read and gives the reader many valuable insights into the workings of the market. It changed my way of "investing" and also has made me a bunch of money - which is what this book is about.
benrhanson More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for the aspiring investor. It only loses a star because of oddities in the Nook Book's formatting and the dated commentary chapters. It seems ironic to ding commentary that's ten years out of date for a book from the 70s, but that's honestly how it seemed. Graham's advice is timeless, but the commentator's advice leans more towards advice for the year 2002. Still plenty of good examples there, but Graham's writing has a voice that it lacks.
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