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Money Masters of Our Time Paperback – 13 May 2003
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An expert reviews the experts - new and updated appraisals of the winning investment strategies of the greatest financial wizards.
About the Author
John Train founded Train, Smith Investment Counsel and is chairman of Montrose Advisors, both of New York. His bestselling books on investing include The Craft of Investing, The Money Masters, The New Money Masters, and The Midas Touch. He has written several hundred columns for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times, Harvard Magazine, The Financial Times, and other publications. He is a part-time director of two independent government agencies reporting directly to Congress and of several emerging market mutual funds. He lives in New York, spends summers in Maine, and travels frequently to Europe, Asia, and South America.
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There are quite a few books in this genre but this is certainly one of the best and rightfully a classic.
One of the strengths of John Train's work in this area is that he knows the people he writes about, and the chapters contain discussions he has had with them in most cases. So you get new information that you have not read before in the financial press. He also does a good job of picking a variety of styles and personality types, so you get A to Z with some letters skipped in between in these 17 profiles. These include (in order of presentation): T. Rowe Price; Warren Buffett; John Templeton; Richard Rainwater; Paul Cabot; Philip Fisher; Benjamin Graham; Mark Lightbown; John Neff; Julian Robertson; Jim Rogers; George Soros; Philip Carret; Michael Steinhardt; Ralph Wanger; Robert Wilson; and Peter Lynch. Amongst these men, you will find a variety of growth investors, value investors, those who look to undiscovered markets, intense analysts of trends and individual companies, hedge fund operators, shorts, small cap specialists, and those who focus on emerging foreign markets. It's quite a ride. Naturally, if any of them interest you, you can go further in other sources and learn more.
Warren Buffett, John Templeton, Paul Cabot, Benjamin Grapham, Jim Rogers, George Soros, Robert Wilson, and Peter Lynch have always been people I have learned from, and I was glad they were included. I did not know much about Mark Lightbown and was glad to learn more.
A major strength of the book is that Mr. Train goes on the sum up what it all seems to mean. He says these people validate four styles that work:
"1. Buy into well-managed companies that will grow . . . . When they slow down, sell them and buy new ones.
2. . . . buy stocks that are priced . . . at less than their underlying assets and sell them when they are reasonably priced.
3. Discover a new investment area or one that is . . . neglected . . . .
4. Identify a really good specialist to do the job for you . . . ."
He has a good list of common practices that almost each of the 17 do, that you should find very helpful, as well.
Finally, he talks about what you can expect for the future. He sees the reasonable returns from growth stocks to be 13-14 percent in the future (down from 20 percent in his last book). He still thinks that is a good way to go, but also counsels on when and how to use mutual funds (when they are cheap and give you access to a category you cannot buy efficiently on your own).
He constantly reminds the reader that most investors will earn less than the market average. Rather than sending you to index funds, as many authors do, he feels that by using the lessons here that he outlines, you can hope to do somewhere near or above the average. But you have to be very careful. His philosophy is a variation on the buy and hold growth stock advice that many advocate, but his reasoning and support for the conclusions are more sound.
It would be interesting to see what the stock portfolios do of those who read this book and follow its advice over the next 20 years.
Personally, I am not convinced that the average reader can take even this excellent book and outperform the market. But if you decide to do so, I sincerely hope you succeed.
In any event, you can certainly avoid many costly errors by paying attention to Mr. Train's list of things to avoid doing!
After you have read the book, ask yourself in what other areas of your life outstanding expert case histories could help you improve by overcoming bad habits and developing better ones. Then go find and apply those case histories!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Each chapter covers a different investor. The last chapter summarizes key points and the author's opinion on how to become a successful investor.
Although I found the book enjoyable, the book was too general and simple (e.g. timing the market does not work). I would much rather read the Market Wizards series by Jack Schwqger because Market Wizards successfully dives deep into the investor's mind and details his or her investing method (e.g. only taking 5:1 risk to reward ratios or cutting losses).
Thus, although this book does a great job giving a broad overview of each investor's success, Market Wizards dives deep into each investor's road to success. In other words, Money Masters of Our Time gives a biography of each investor's road to success, while the Market Wizards gives details of each investor's investing strategy and mentality: both important but I find Market Wizards more valuable.
In summary, I would read this book only if you already read Market Wizards series.
The book describes the way very succesful investors did their craft.
What one observes is the thorough way most of these people do their work.
They investigate for example the annual and quarterly reports, but also how honest and
stock holder oriented management is.
Another interesting point is that one can wait untill the best change of a succesful buy of stock
occurs. It is not a matter of doing the buy quickly.
"Wait untill a very good chance occurs, one can hear then almost the sound of the cashregister"!
I have learned a lot by reading and rereading the book.
I am an avid Jim Rogers fan and believe this book is one of the greatest and most comprehensive texts on his legendary investment style.