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The Little Book That Still Beats the Market (Little Books. Big Profits 29) by [Joel Greenblatt, Andrew Tobias]

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The Little Book That Still Beats the Market (Little Books. Big Profits 29) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2,519 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Exclusive Q&A with Author Joel Greenblatt

It's been five years since you first published The Little Book That Beats the Market. Have your thoughts changed at all about the effectiveness of value investing?

In my mind, the principles of value investing have not changed. As we've learned yet again, markets can be volatile and emotional. They often go to extremes of pessimism and optimism, and prices can and often do fluctuate wildly and significantly over short periods of time. As a result, Mr. Market can provide some excellent opportunities to purchase bargain priced stocks when people are unduly pessimistic. This is where value investing comes in. Buying companies below their true value is the road to being a successful investor. The magic formula found in the Little Book seeks to buy a group of above average companies but only when they are available at below average prices. Because it is a formula, it seeks to do this in an unemotional way that can take advantage of the market's mood swings. Ben Graham taught us these lessons in the 1930s and the principles still hold as well today as when he first wrote them down more than 70 years ago.

Do you think individual investors should re-think their investment strategy as a result of the recent market crash and recession?

I think the best lesson that can be learned from the recent price drop and partial recovery is that stocks are volatile. For most people, stocks should represent a portion of their investment portfolio because I still believe that over the long term they will provide superior returns relative to most alternative investments. However, whether that portion of an investment portfolio devoted to stock investments should be 40% of an investor's portfolio or 80% is a very individual decision. How much are you willing (or able) to lose before you panic out? There's no sense investing such a large portion of your assets in a long-term strategy if you can't take the pain when your chosen strategy doesn't work out for a period of years. The "magic formula" found in the book can underperform the market for years. It can also lose money if the market goes down. But it is also a strategy that makes a lot of sense and that should work well for investors over the long term.

Can you explain the Magic Formula's basic strategy in one sentence?

The Magic Formula strategy is a long-term investment strategy designed to help investors buy a group of above-average companies but only when they are available at below-average prices.

You make reference in the new afterword to receiving a number of emails from readers after the The Little Book That Beats the Market was published. Could you share with us some of the comments you received?

I received many emails after the first edition of the book was published. Some suggested that the strategy was working great for them while others reported that they had waited over a year and the strategy was underperforming. These results and emails are consistent with the message of the book. Over the five years since the book was published, the strategy earned very nice returns for investors, but the ride was bumpy. Not only did the formula underperform for a period of time, in 2008 it lost money along with the market. Overall, the formula performed quite well but only for those who maintained a true long-term perspective. This is easier said than done. In the new afterword, I try to give more facts, color and information about the strategy that I hope will help investors be successful in taking full advantage of the magic formula over the long term. Of course, I also got plenty of emails where investors just asked us to do it all for them. Other emails asked us to apply the formula internationally. As a result, we have worked on both of these projects over the last several years.

In the new afterword, you write "Beating the market isn't the same thing as making money." Can you elaborate on this and why it's a difficult concept to swallow at times?

Since the strategy involves buying a portfolio that is 100% long the stock market, if the stock market goes down, our portfolio may well go down, too. If the market drops 40% and we beat the market by losing only 38%, this is small consolation. As I say in the afterword, while I firmly believe that for most people an investment in the stock market should represent a substantial portion of your investment portfolio, how big that portion should be can vary widely. For some it can be well over half of assets, for others well less than half might be appropriate. The magic formula strategy is a wonderful strategy for that portion of your portfolio that you choose to invest in the stock market. In fact, I truly believe that the magic formula remains one of your best options. How much to invest in the stock market, however, is a very personal decision that should be partially based on your ability to withstand short-term negative price movements. One encouraging fact, though, discussed in the afterword is the performance of our large cap portfolio over the last decade. Over that period, the market as measured by the S&P 500 was actually down, yet our backtests showed that following the formula over those same ten years would have resulted in a more than tripling of your money. Unfortunately, those great long-term returns came with plenty of bumps, including some not so short periods of losses and underperformance. But once again, if the formula worked every day, every month and every year, everyone would follow it and it would be ruined. Fortunately, it's not so great, and as a result I strongly believe that long-term investors should continue to benefit from the magic formula for many years to come.


"This book is the finest simple distillation of modern value investing principles ever written. It should be mandatory reading for all serious investors from 4th grade on up."
--Professor Bruce Greenwald of Columbia Business School, Director of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing

"A landmark book- a stunningly simple and low risk way to significantly beat the market!"
--Michael Steinhardt, The Dean of Wall Street Hedge Fund Managers

"Simply Perfect. One of the most important investment books of the last 50 years!"
--Michael F. Price, MFP Investors, LLC and called "Wall Street’s Foremost Value Investor," by
Fortune Magazine

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B003VWCQB0
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Wiley; 1st edition (July 16, 2010)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 16, 2010
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 883 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 147 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,519 ratings

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Joel Greenblatt is the founder and a managing partner of Gotham Capital, a private investment partnership that has achieved 40% annualized returns since its inception in 1985. He is a professor on the adjunct faculty of Columbia Business School, the former chairman of the board of a Fortune 500 company, the cofounder of the Value Investors Club website, and the author of You Can Be a Stock Market Genius. Greenblatt holds a BS and an MBA from the Wharton School.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
2,519 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2020
87 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2019
37 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2019
75 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, even today
Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020
This is one of the most highly rated introductions to value investing for "average folk" - and reading it through, you can clearly see why. If you have prior experience with stocks and investment, the first two chapters may seem a bit "slow", but this builds a solid foundation for the rest of the book. The rational, logical explanation to the investment approach recommended by the author is easy to understand, and clear guidance to implementing the steps in effective valuation (along with alternatives, if you choose to use slightly different approaches to the strict method recommended) is provided as well. Overall an excellent read.
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7 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2021
14 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2021
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very instructive guide for investing, with all the steps you need to beat the market
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2022
This book is really instructive, if you are a investor who have problems with how to choose stocks , then I will 100% recommend it to you! With the magic formula which the book mentions, you will able to choose the correct stocks and more, you don't have to focus on the stock market every day with fear--you just have to buy the magic formula stocks, then wait for the money to start rolling into your budget!
This book is also a good beginner"s guide. It covers some basics, like putting the money in the bank, and bonds, and finally explaining that investing is the best solution to your money! And more, this book is written with humor, so anybody, even children will enjoy it very much. If you are a parent who wants your child to learn investing, then you should buy this book as a present for your child.
One thing I want to say is this book is quite outdated (although just 12 years or so), like the author said that the US government bond is 6 percent, but it is much lower nowadays. But considering all things, I would say that this is definitely a good investing book, and therefore you should buy it immediately!
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Top reviews from other countries

Jake Suter
2.0 out of 5 stars A shame the author doesn't clarify on the cover the book is for kids
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2018
35 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for the Very Patient
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2016
18 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read but not for those looking to actively analyse company fundamentals
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2020
2 people found this helpful
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Noel J.W. Cook
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Good Value Investing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 16, 2021
Margaret Connolly
2.0 out of 5 stars The American Market
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 1, 2020
One person found this helpful
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