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You Can be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits [Paperback]

Joel Greenblatt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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You Can be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits + The Little Book That Still Beats the Market: Your Safe Haven in Good Times or Bad (Little Books. Big Profits) + Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing - A Book of Practical Counsel
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD; 1st Fireside Ed edition (1 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684840073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684840079
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Discusses the secrets of profitable investment, explaining mergers, restructurings, and other lesser-known money-making opportunities.

From the Author

Interview with Joel Greenblatt
Q: Where do you find "the secret hiding places" of stock market profits described in your book?

A: You don't have to look under Love Canal or get shot down spying over some secret Russian miliary base to find them, but the truth is stock market profits can be hiding anywhere-and their hiding places are always changing. In fact, the underlying theme to all of the investment opportunities described in my book is change. Something out of the ordinary course of business is taking place that creates an investment opportunity. The list of corporate events that can result in big profits runs the gamut-spinoffs, mergers, restructurings, right offerings, bankruptcies and more. If the indiviual sticks to looking for investment opportunities in these "secret hiding places" he or she has a huge advantage over the investment pros- and everyone else-just going in. This may sound pretty complicated, but once you learn what to look for in the daily paper, it becomes pretty obvious.

Q: How did you discover them?

A: It wasn't a calculated plan. I just decided to look for opportunities in places that everyone else appeared to be ignoring. For instance, in the case of spinoffs, shareholders of a parent company are distributed shares in a subsidiary or division they never asked for. So they simply sell them. I look at these situations because time and time again this system of distributing shares to investors who don't want them creates wonderful buying opportunities. Studies have shown that just by investing in spinoffs investors can double the return of the market averages. And if you learn to pick your spots in an area like spinoffs you can do even better.

Q: Why haven't others found out about them?

A: It's really just the way the system works. Analysts aren't set up to follow companies undergoing extraordinary change. They're really fixed on analyzing companies of a certain size within their own industry group. Anything that falls out of this narrow focus falls by the wayside. Most institutions can't be bothered to follow these situations either. They aren't being sold or promoted by the investment firms and they may be too small or too out of the way or just too weird for them to bother with.

Q: Will an English major with no financial background be able to understand the investment strategies and financial concepts in your book?

A: Almost anyone with an interest in putting in a little time and effort can understand and use the concepts. Almost anyone can understand the basic investments and why they work and should continue to work. In the book I discuss a few places where people who need to brush up on the basics of balance sheets and income statements can pick this stuff up pretty painlessly.

Q: So even a novice can make a fortune by using your investment strategies?

A: Yes. The idea behind my book is to send people to areas where they are ahead of the game even before they start. So, in many of the investment areas dicussed in the book, investors can pretty much bungle their way into some nice profits. I don't beleive that just giving someone a stock tip is that helpful-but if, like the cliche says, I can "teach them to fish"-then what I've really done is to help them over a lifetime.

Q: Why are special corporate events such as spinoffs, restructurings, mergers or even bankruptcies potential gold mines for investors?

A: These corporate events are excellent investment opportunities mostly because they are all involve a fundamentally inefficient system for distributing securities to the wrong people. Stocks of spinoffs, or securities issued in a merger, or stocks of companies coming out of bankruptcy are depressed because they are issued to people who don't want them. Initial selling pressure usually results in a low price, creating bargin opportunities. And since these opportunites are created by special corporate events-events that take place in all market enviroments-new bargains are constantly being created.

Q: You don't seem to hold brokerage firms in very high regard. Is the advice they give bad?

A: I have two rules that cover my advice for investors when they get a call from a stockbroker. The first is don't trust anyone over 30. The second is don't trust anyone 30 or under. Frankly, the odds of anyone calling you on the phone with good investment advice are about the same as winning Lotto- without buying a ticket. Seriously, the record of research analysts at major brokerage firms for predicting future earnings of stock prices is quite poor. And if you believe the record of smaller brokerage firms who tout penny stocks is any better, you're not someone I can help. Even institutional clients of reputable investment firms don't get particularly good advice.

Q: Why is this?

A: The reasons for this consistenly poor showing are largely systematic in nature. The vast majority of analysts are not directly paid by clients, and the research recommmendations and reports they produce are peddled by the firm's stockbrokers in exchange for commission business. Because it's much easier to generate comissions from new "Buy" recommendations than from recommendations sometimes the analyst's firm is vying for investment banking business, so a bad report from the analyst may hurt the firm's chances of attracting or keeping a client. Additionally, most analysts know little about the comparative merits of stocks in other industries. A neighborhood in Cleveland may look great next to one three blocks over, but not when compared to Beverly Hills.

Q: How is it that the pros overlook the special investment situations described in your book?

A: There are many reasons why huge profit opportunites-particularly the ones described in the book- aren't generally available from brokerage firms. First, these special opportunities often fall outside an analyst's specific area of expertise. Many analysts actually suspend rating or drop investment firms and their analysts to cover stocks or investment situations unless they can generate enough revenue-through commissions and investment banking fees-to make the time and effort worthwhile. Therefore, smaller capitalization stocks whose shares don't trade in large volumes, obscure securities, and unique situations are generally ignored. Ironically, the very areas that are uneconomic for large firms to explore are precisely the ones that hold the most potential profit for individual investors.

Q: Which of the investment areas described in your book are the easiest to take advantage of?

A: For most people, I'd have to say the spinoff area. Pretty much everyone can play the spinoff game. Spinoffs are easy to spot. You can pick and choose from a large number of opportunities, and the group as a whole beats the pants off the market. In fact, you can spend your whole life just in the spinoff area. Of course, eventually no one will talk to you and pretty soon the drool dripping off your chin will start to bug you-but there's really no need to look anywhere else.

Q: Which are the most difficult? Are there any areas novice investors should avoid?

Q: None are particularly difficult, but there are a few areas, like LEAPS (long term options) and special situation options, where everyone, especially those just getting started with options, should use more than the usual amount of caution. While investing even a small portion of your assets in these highly leveraged instruments can lead to a spectacular increase in the value of your portfolio options carry a particularly high degree of risk. Investing in this area without a good understanding of how options work is like running through a dynamite factory with a burning match-you might live, but you're still an idiot.

Q: Give that each week there are dozens of special corporate events that have enormous potential for profits, how does one decide which of them to follow?

A: You can't follow all of these situations, and you don't have to. Even finding one good opportunity every month or two is far more than any investor should need or want. Just reading the paper eve --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awful title, Excellent book 10 Jan 2008
1999 Fireside reissue of 1st edition (1997), 299 pages (of which 261 pages form the main body of the book).

Despite the awful title, I really enjoyed `You can be a Stock Market Genius'. Greenblatt laces his (excellent) content with plenty of jokes, which I always think of as a somewhat risky approach: some readers who would otherwise appreciate the content will not like the delivery.

By the time of publication, Greenblatt's investment firm had already achieved 50% compound annual growth for 10 years, so could write his book however he pleased. I like it when people don't need to write books for financial reasons - you get a better look at the author.

Greenblatt's book reminds me strongly of Mohnish Pabrai's `The Dhandho Investor', which I read a few months ago. I don't think one should be particularly surprised, as they both belong in that tiny group of investors who have not just beaten the stock market, but have absolutely smashed it. The following summary points for `You can be a Stock Market Genius' could be used for either book:

1. Concentrate your efforts on areas where bargains are likely to occur ("If you preselect investment areas that put you ahead of the game even before you start ... the most important work is already done.")
2. Limit downside risk ("If you don't lose money, most of the remaining alternatives are good ones.")
3. Load up on only a few best ideas ("...don't screw up a perfectly good stock-market strategy by diversifying your way into mediocre returns.")

The second point, which is the same as the concept of `margin of safety,' works because it - unlike the world of analyst earnings forecasts - acknowledges the severe uncertainty that is reality.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great book for Wall Street Novice 2 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Many readers probably never realized that this book gives out some of the best money-making secrets on Wall Street (somebody has to blow the whistle, right?). Everything explained in this book is real and is practiced by a wide array of firms such as investment banks, brokerage houses, and institutional investors. Each year, instituions spent billions of dollars doing exactly the kind of transactions explained in the book. A successful risk arbitrageur in a major investment bank makes about $200-300 millions for the firm, which translates to $2-3 millions in his/her own pocket. Readers may discover that, after all, the good old secrets of Wall Street are simple to understand (Yes, if you can add, subtract and divide, you are qualified to work in 90% of the departments in an investment firm). The language is witty and lively. Case examples make this book extremely charming. However, despite its snappy title, this book fails to appeal the professional crowd. As a professinal myself, I certainly expect the book to skip trivial analogies and expand on technical details. Still, this is a great book for beginners, whether you are a personal investor who is just starting, or someone who wants to get your feet wet on Wall Street. Welcome to the world of greed, capitalism, and lucrative profits!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Joel Greenblatt really introduces new concepts and ideas into the investing world. You won't find the same old information thrown around again, and you won't find a new number crunching method or explanation. You'll find really inventive thinking. After reading books from Benjamin Graham and Phillip Fisher, it is interesting that there is a book that really does teach me somethings I didn't know.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best investment book in a long time 5 May 1997
By A Customer
This book is witty engaging and filled with solid advice.Greenblatt's methods are quite different than those of a standard value investor. He points out potential areas in which value is likely to be found, namely spinoffs, mergers, bankruptcies and such "special situations". He does not minimize the amount of work needed to verify that an idea really represents value, but he claims that it should not be too hard to find several good values every year, which is all the individual investor needs (his advantage over a mutual fund). This book goes on my very short list of stock market classics, along with Klarman's Margin of Safety.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I just finished reading Joel's book. I've yet to try his strategy to my own investing, but my goal is to do just that. Joel lays out a road map on how to find and evaluate little known investment opportunities. You still have to do some work and keep your eyes open, but he makes it seem worth while. I highly recommend reading this book! - Ted
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Greenblatt's book is an excellent, easy to read explanation for why such apparently unappealing Wall Street actions as corporate spinoffs are actually a terrific investment opportunity. Through sample cases and anecdotes, the author gives an excellent discussion of the fundamentals of good investments, from upside potential of stocks to managerial incentives.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about some of the black and white fundamentals of the market.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC! 20 Aug 1997
By A Customer
If you are just starting out, or an experienced investor, this book is a must read! I could not put it down once I started. There are many insightful "clues" that the author outlines and these are woven together with past case studies to present a picture of what one might look for in future opportunities. This should be required reading for anyone interested in investing! Thanks to Joel Greenblatt for giving us his secrets.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute must for those interested in investing in the stock market
Fun read, insightful, with useful messages for both people with and without a deep finance background
Published 1 month ago by M. Zoltan Fekete
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by it's cover!
Bad title, good book. Don't judge a book by it's cover... in this case you'd think the book was written for children or moreons. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tero Ojanperä
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Greenblatt makes investing sounds easy, whereas everyone else tends to make sound as complex as possible to make themselves sound smart.
Published 7 months ago by Alan Sinclair
5.0 out of 5 stars New Ideas
I have been more traditionally investing for many years and although JG's book has concepts that are now more widely used than when originally published, I believe it will help me... Read more
Published 21 months ago by chris perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Best trade of my life thanks to this book
I bought this book in May 2011 and at the time I felt pretty bullish on Apple. Instead of buying the stock I bought Jan 2013 $400 LEAPS based on what the book said. Read more
Published on 4 April 2012 by Neilster
5.0 out of 5 stars awful title, great book...
fact - joel greenblatt is considered one of the greatest investors of our time (consistently gets returns of 30%+ on his returns...). Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by Gcrikey
1.0 out of 5 stars Dated & superficial
The book is basically just a whistle-stop tour through some possible special situations-type investments, e.g., spin-offs, plus some cheerleading for the author's fund. Read more
Published on 16 May 2011 by LaughingMagpie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great investor
Joel Greenblatt is by far one of the most successful value investors this country has ever seen. In this book, he shows readers how he does it. Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2009 by Mariusz Skonieczny
5.0 out of 5 stars Poor title, great book.
The title of this book does not give due justice to the contents which is excellent.
Published on 17 Dec 1997
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