Introduction

In the introduction to his acclaimed book A History of the American People, historian Paul Johnson writes about his motivation for writing the book, which, given its more than a thousand pages, was a huge undertaking. As an adult, he became fascinated with American history, which he had not studied in school, and wanted to acquire a deep and lasting understanding of the subject. So he, “Determined … to write a history of it, knowing that to produce a book is the only way to study a subject systematically, purposefully, and retentively.”

In similar fashion, I’m writing this blog to sharpen and deepen my understanding of value investing. It is widely understood that putting your thoughts into writing is an effective way to clarify your thinking. Often, it is not until you try to write about a topic that you realize you have some more work to do in understanding it.

What’s in it for you? I hope to share some ideas and insights that will make you a better investor. I spend a lot of time studying the subject and reading a lot of material so I hope to find some valuable nuggets and insights to share with my readers.

Becoming a successful investor is a journey that takes many years and there are always new lessons to learn. It is important to develop a sound philosophy and investment process that is based on what has worked over a long period of time and that has a solid intellectual underpinning. It is for this reason that the writings and speeches of Warren Buffett will be a major source of ideas for this blog. What he has to say is worth carefully studying.

Fortunately, Buffett, like his mentor, Benjamin Graham, has been very generous in sharing his ideas. Buffett has also been clear on what a student of investing should focus on. In his 1996 Chairman’s letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett wrote that, “In our view, though, investment students need only two well-taught courses – How to Value a Business, and How to Think About Market Prices.” These two subjects will be emphasized in this blog. I will also draw on the work of other successful value investors and teachers including Benjamin Graham, Charlie Munger, Seth Klarman, Joel Greenblatt, Eddie Lampert, Mason Hawkins, Lou Simpson, Bruce Greenwald, Walter Schloss, Tom Gayner, Bruce Berkowitz, David Einhorn and many others.

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