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Investing Between the Lines: How to Make Smarter Decisions By Decoding CEO Communications

Investing Between the Lines: How to Make Smarter Decisions By Decoding CEO Communications [Kindle Edition]

L.J. Rittenhouse
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


“Rittenhouse's annual company rankings have consistently shown a convincing link between executive candor and stock returns. Indeed, Rittenhouse raised a red flag on Enron before it failed, noticing a discrepancy between the net income cited in its CEO letter and its audited financial statement, among other things.” --Robin Blumental (Barron’s 2013-01-12)

Product Description

The essential guide to making smarter decisions by decoding CEO Communications

Recommended reading in Warren Buffet’s 2013 Shareholder Letter

Investing Between the Lines introduces a revolutionary method for evaluating the financial integrity of a company. You don’t need special access to “insider” information or a degree in accounting to figure it out. In fact, the secret is right in front of you—in black and white—in the words of every shareholder letter, annual report, and corporate correspondence you receive.

Investing Between the Lines shows you how to:

  • Decipher the “FOG” of confusing company communications
  • Decode the real meaning behind corporate jargon and platitudes
  • Separate the facts from the fluff in annual reports and quarterly earnings calls
  • Safeguard your money by investing in companies that steward investor capital

Too often, corporate executives and investment professionals are expected to deliver short-term results. As a result, they are compelled to turn to accounting techniques and unclear language to meet these expectations.

In Investing Between the Lines, L.J. Rittenhouse lays out her time-tested approach for recognizing at-risk businesses before trouble hits. This is the same method she used to predict the collapse of Enron and the fall of Lehman.

From comparing the statements of Ford, GM, and Toyota to revealing why FedEx and Wells Fargo have been so successful, Investing Between the Lines shows that Rittenhouse’s system is one of the most powerful tools a corporate leader or investor can have. Once you learn the clues to decode CEO communications, you will be able to invest between the lines—to figure out exactly what a company’s CEO is or isn’t telling you.

Whether you’re a professional investor, a new shareholder, or a CEO who wants to improve how your company communicates, Investing Between the Lines is one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Praise for Investing Between the Lines

“Rittenhouse is still on the side of the angels.”
—WARREN BUFFETT, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

“Tremendous! Investing Between the Lines is destined to become a classic in showing how candor is the language of trust and how trust is the basis on which companies ultimately succeed.”
—STEPHEN M. R. COVEY, author of the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Speed of Trust, and coauthor of Smart Trust

“Before investing only by the numbers, read Investing Between the Lines. In it, L.J. Rittenhouse makes a compelling case that CEOs’ words matter too.”
—JAMES HESKETT, Baker Foundation Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School, and author of The Culture Cycle

“An intriguing read that gets to the heart of the 21st-century leadership challenge—the need for leaders to candidly build and earn the trust of their stakeholders in an enduring way.”
—DOUGLAS R. CONANT, Former President, CEO, and Director of Campbell Soup Company and New York Times bestselling author of TouchPoints

“This book is the Rosetta Stone for investors and the high-water mark for CEOs.”
—DAVID CHILDERS, CEO of Compli, Inc., and Director, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

“L.J. Rittenhouse reports on over a decade of research analyzing executive communications and finds leadership clues that reveal the true values of a corporate culture which, in turn, determine performance.”
—LOUISE M. MORMAN, Executive Director, Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, Miami University

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4051 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (8 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #224,163 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for investors and IR practitioners 12 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Combining her insights in finance and communications Rittenhouse ranks CEOs' trustworthiness based on their letters to shareholders in Annual Reports. The book is a turn-pager with a clear message: What CEO tell shareholders deserves to be taken seriously by prospective and existing investors. Decoded they carry information crucial to the understanding of how the company is doing and where it is heading. Rittenhouse shows us how to use the tools. Well structured and extremely well written, the book shows that linguistic analyses coupled with examination of financial statements are a formidable tool, not only for investing purposes but also because of the more general insights into governance and leadership such exercises give.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good concept, but not that helpful for the investor 23 Mar 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to this book. Warren Buffet recommends it and it offers a new way to think about investing. However, I was hoping for something that wasn't delivered. The book lacks analytical rigor in a statistical sense. The analysis of corporate disclosure is deep and numerical, and to be applauded, but each chapter typically compares just three companies so there's not enough data to really prove or disprove anything in a robust way. Stylistically, I also found the canonization of Warren Buffet a little repetitive, I was also a little frustrated by the need to define a word at the start of every chapter and reference the author's firm often. I suspect if you are authoring content for shareholders e.g. you work in investor relations, then this book will be very relevant to you. However, as an investor I didn't receive enough data to really buy into the idea as a way to invest and also the steps to implementation are subjective. I hate writing 'bad' reviews, especially since the author's achievements are impressive, and do like the innovative concept here, plus totally agree with the vision. In my case I didn't feel I was the target audience for this book and wanted more data on whether the ideas actually work, the best books on investing typically have tables and tables of this sort of data, which this book lacks.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Relevant 15 years ago before the internet 12 May 2013
By DudeMan - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Was recommended by WEB in the letter so sight unseen I purchased it....

...Maybe you will like it better than me but please review a library copy first. Wish I had. Witness:

*the book uses the phrase "Rittenhouse Rankings" as a club to bludgeon the reader endlessly. It appears on virtually every page, often multiple times on a page, to the point where you just want to scream!

*you know you are in trouble when an author quotes her own conversation with someone else in a book

*I couldn't help but wonder if this author was aware of 'conference calls'. I mean, I'll read shareholder letters if available (vast majority aren't as companies have gone to 10K wraps instead) but don't study them too closely (though I'm simple and stick with simple stuff) and prefer the calls and presentations in part cause if you don't get the culture and presentation from your research you aren't going to get it from a letter - people aren't WEB. This book would have made a lot more sense in 1993 - not so much 2013.

*On a practical basis, none of this stuff is particularly helpful if you don't already have a framework for evaluating companies and picking stocks. None of what she talks about here is closely correlated with actually picking winning stocks or avoiding bad ones. I mean, sure, everyone wants good management but should we really spend time picking apart an Enron letter when the cash flow statement is a mass of delusion? Tell me the option policy, tell me the capital allocation policy, tell me how stores they want to open and whether they pay dividends and what price they buy shares and how much they pay the CEO and where margins are and what's the story and all the things that make an investment analysis possible. I don't need to "decode" anything mysterious - just look at the financials. That gets completely lost in this set piece for her business.

Let's repeat that - in the end, this book is a gigantic sales pitch for RR, for RR, for RR, for RR, and for RR.

Course, all this said, the author is pretty clear on her intentions:

the target includes

1) CEO and BODs,
2) ordinary investors like her 'mom' (her words), and
3) business students and professional long-term investors who study company fundamentals.

She's obviously selling a "product" (hence the branding attempt) to the first group (consulting firms do that), the 2nd won't benefit one iota (get a simple statement analysis book first), and the 3rd group won't learn anything meaningful.

This sums up the book for me:

"A second audience includes individual investors like my mother, who was blessed with smarts and common sense, but had no business training. Mom lacked the confidence to analyze the information in a shareholder letter. As a shareholder in a number of companies, she ignored the annual reports that arrived in the mail. But after learning the clues to detect candor in corporate communications, Mom could pick out key words with her red pen. She began to see which CEOs deserved her trust and capital and which did not."

There you go - a set a of key words to underline with a red pen leads to fantastic investment profits. You heard it in this book first.

I gave my copy away.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Reading For Investors -- And Management, Too 9 Jan 2013
By Mark Lazenby - Published on
"Investing Between The Lines" is an expert and often entertaining guide for shareholder survival that shows readers how to use the words of senior management as an advance radar system. L.J. Rittenhouse underscores the increasing importance of candor and accountability in CEO communication, shows us how to spot it, and alerts us when to smell a rat, look a little harder and figure out what really lies ahead. The author's ability to link CEO words with corporate results is impressive and well worth the read for all boards of directors, executives and any professionals involved in investor relations and corporate communications.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every serious investor should read this! 8 Jun 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of the toughest jobs and investor has is deciphering what a company says in the many venues it presents itself. This book does an excellent job of heoping you understand what to look for and what it may or may not mean. I now look for somewhat different things in letters to shareholders and in presentations. Most of this can be applied to mutual funds too and may be even more help there.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important new tool for individual investors! 8 Jan 2013
By Lisa N. Motulsky - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Laura Rittenhouse helps level the playing field for individual investors with a brand new tool for understanding a corporation's strengths and risk factors. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to invest wisely.
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