Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: Invest Like a Dealmaker

Today I'm taking a look at Invest Like a Dealmaker by Christopher Mayer. Christopher writes the Capital & Crisis newsletter, and this book takes a look at his investment methods. After reading this book, I'd summarize it as a how-to guide for the value investor. The author's focus is to teach investors ways to uncover value by various methods (formulas for stock screens, how to follow fund managers, finding undervalued stocks, etc).

The author references many, many investors, and maybe even a few too many. He refers frequently to some well known ones like Seth Klarman, Joel Greenblatt, and Bill Miller. A lot of his theory involves following these gurus, and he explains why. I wouldn't consider this just a recycling of these well-known investors, and their theories; Mayer does add some substance as to why these guys are worth following.

As you'd expect with a value-focused author, he takes a bottom-up approach and cares more about individual companies more than their stock, and looks at value over price. He shares with investors how great companies create wealth and how you can spot them.

I did find a fair amount of useful information in this book, and here are a couple of things in particular:

-Pay more attention to cash flow than earnings. Earnings don't often tell the whole story. A company that consistently produces strong cash flow is more likely to be good for investors.

-Take a look at spin-offs as an investment idea. There are often inherent reasons why these stocks will rise, and he explains why.

Most of the book focuses on areas to find value, and how to evaluate if it is worth investing in. He has a chapter called "Hunting Grounds", which is kind of a microcosm of the entire book.

Overall, I liked this book. It is a quick read, and I picked up some new information that will work its way into how I determine a good investment. It is a book you can re-read and each time pick up new things. Its not for trend followers or traders, but value-oriented investors with a longer time horizon. If that fits your profile, you'd probably find this book to be worthwhile.

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