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Summary of The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

Summary: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham’s landmark work “The Intelligent Investor” on investing and trading has influenced generations of investors significantly. There are several parts in the book, each of which concentrates on a different element of investing.

The book is primarily concerned with the concept of value investing, which entails searching for cheap equities and making investments in businesses that have solid foundations and a long-term outlook. In addition to providing a variety of tools and techniques for finding high-quality investments, Graham stresses the significance of thorough analysis and study when making investment choices.

The Summary


The tone of the book is established in Benjamin Graham’s preface to “The Intelligent Trader,” which also reveals his investment philosophies. He starts off by recognizing the difficulties encountered by investors, such as the unpredictability of market changes and the psychological effects of investment choices.

Graham presents the idea of “value investing,” which entails finding equities and assets that the market has undervalued and buying them in the hope of making money over the long term as their true worth is realized. As the market might take some time to realize the actual worth of the assets being invested in, he also points out that value investing takes perseverance and discipline.

Chapter 1: Investment versus Speculation: Results to Be Expected by the Intelligent Investor

According to Graham, investing is the act of buying securities or bonds with the hope of making a respectable profit. He points out that investing calls for a careful examination of the asset’s intrinsic worth and knowledge of its potential for long-term development.

Contrarily, speculation entails buying commodities with the goal of benefiting from transient price swings. Graham points out that speculators are more interested in market patterns and price changes than they are in the asset’s intrinsic worth.

Investors should approach the market with a long-term view, according to Graham, and they shouldn’t worry too much about short-term price changes. He thinks that while speculation can be unpredictable and result in big loses, a logical strategy to investing can produce constant, acceptable results over time.

Chapter 2: The Investor and Inflation

According to Graham, inflation poses a continuous risk to the worth of money and assets. He contends that when making investment choices, investors must take inflation into account because investments that look lucrative in monetary terms may actually lose value as a result of inflation.

Graham advises making investments in commodities that have the ability to produce returns that are higher than the rate of inflation in order to hedge against inflation. He advises investors to concentrate on holdings with the ability to generate a significant yield over the long term, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Graham also advises buyers to exercise caution when buying assets that seem secure but could actually be susceptible to inflation. For instance, he contends that buying bonds with a fixed interest rate may not be a wise move because inflation may eventually reduce the actual worth of interest payments.

Chapter 3: A Century of Stock-Market History: The Level of Stock Prices in Early 1972

Graham opens the chapter by pointing out that, over the past century, the stock market has gone through several times of extremely high volatility, including the 1929 stock market collapse and the ensuing Great Depression. He stresses that although these times can be scary for investors, they can also be profitable for those who are prepared to buy cheap companies.

Moving on to the present, Graham observes that many equities were selling at values that he thought were considerably higher than their real fundamental worth at the beginning of 1972, when the stock market was having a time of high valuations. He says that the appeal of growth equities, which were in high demand at the time, may be partially to blame for this.

Graham also stresses the significance of a methodical, value-oriented approach to investing, contending that buyers of stocks should concentrate on those that are available for a substantial discount to their intrinsic worth. He acknowledges that this strategy might call for persistence and a desire to hold onto equities for a long time, but he thinks it is ultimately the most surefire way to achieve long-term success in the stock market.

Chapter 4: General Portfolio Policy: The Defensive Investor

The definition of a defensive investor is someone who prioritizes financial safety over high yield possibility. This kind of investor also wants to make a respectable yield on their money with the least amount of work.

According to Graham, a defensive investor should prioritize diversity and quality. Spreading assets across a range of stocks, bonds, and other instruments is known as diversification. This lowers the chance of suffering losses brought on by a single venture failing. Investing in high-quality businesses means finding those with solid financials and a track record of success.

A defensive trader should strive to have a portfolio that is composed of 50% bonds and 50% equities, according to Graham. Bonds with a duration of 10 years or less and of good quality and low risk should be used for the portfolio’s bond allocation. The equity component of the portfolio ought to be allocated to dependable, established businesses with a track record of dividend payments.

Chapter 5: The Defensive Investor and Common Stocks

Graham emphasizes at the outset that equity buying is always risky, even for conservative investors. But he thinks that by adhering to some rules, buyers can reduce their risk while still getting a respectable yield on their investment.

One of the most important rules for equity investing is to concentrate on big, known businesses with a track record of success. Graham advises making investments in businesses that have been operating for at least ten years and have generated profits on a regular basis during that time.

Search for businesses with solid financials, such as low debt-to-equity ratios and high current ratios. This is another crucial rule. Focusing on businesses that pay dividends is another important strategy for defensive investors because they can guarantee a consistent income stream even if a company’s stock price does not rise considerably.

Chapter 6: Portfolio Policy for the Enterprising Investor: Negative Approach

For enterprising investors, who are more likely to be attracted to speculative investments that have the potential for high yields but also bear a high degree of risk, Graham contends that the negative strategy is especially crucial. In order to escape the traps of speculation, Graham advises astute investors to concentrate on spotting and averting bad investments.

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Analyzing a company’s financial statements and other pertinent data to spot possible red flags is a crucial tactic for the negative method. This could involve a lot of debt, slim profit ratios, or bad management techniques. Investors can lower their risk of making a poor investment by eliminating businesses that display these traits.

Graham also warns investors to avoid market fads and trends because they can result in speculative booms and the overvaluation of some companies. He advises concentrating on long-term value buying instead, which involves making investments in businesses that are cheap in comparison to their actual value.

Being patient and careful when spending is a crucial countermeasure to the pessimistic attitude. Investors should adopt a long-term perspective and concentrate on creating a diverse collection of reliable, essentially sound investments rather than following the most recent popular company or market trend.

Chapter 7: Portfolio Policy for the Enterprising Investor: The Positive Side

Graham admits that the positive strategy involves more risk than the negative strategy because it calls for buyers to find undervalued businesses with development potential. He also contends that the positive strategy can be successful for astute investors who are prepared to spend the time and effort necessary to perform in-depth research and analysis.

Graham advises investors to concentrate on finding businesses with strong foundations, such as a strong financial situation, steady earnings development, and a track record of success, in order to be successful with the positive strategy. He also suggests that investors keep a careful eye on market and fiscal circumstances, as well as business trends and market competition.

Maintaining a diverse array of assets across various sectors and asset classes is another crucial strategy for the optimistic approach. By doing this, risk can be reduced and buyers can be confident they aren’t excessively exposed to any one business or industry.

Chapter 8: The Investor and Market Fluctuations

According to Graham, buyers should anticipate experiencing both bull and bear markets over time, as they are a normal component of trading. He warns investors against short-term market predictions and speculative trading, which can be hazardous and frequently produce subpar results.

Graham suggests that instead of trying to time the market, investors should concentrate on creating a well-diversified collection of assets with solid fundamentals. With a blend of equities, bonds, and other assets that are in line with the investor’s objectives and risk tolerance, he advises a balanced strategy to asset distribution.

Graham also emphasizes the significance of keeping a long-term financial horizon and resisting the urge to make snap judgments based on transient market fluctuations. He advises investors to maintain discipline, be patient, and refrain from making snap judgments that might jeopardize their long-term investment strategy.

Chapter 9: Investing in Investment Funds

Graham starts off by pointing out that investment funds can be a practical way for individual investors to get exposure to a variety of equities or bonds without having to do a lot of independent study and analysis. He admits that there could be drawbacks to investing in funds, such as costs and fees that could reduce returns and the potential for ineffective administration or underperformance.

Before picking an investment fund, Graham advises investors to closely consider the fees and expenditures involved. He also emphasizes the significance of selecting funds that are administered by knowledgeable, successful, and seasoned professionals. Additionally, he recommends investors to stay away from funds that are excessively specialized or concentrated on a single industry or area because they can be very risky and unpredictable.

Graham also compares and contrasts open-end and closed-end funds, pointing out that closed-end funds frequently trade at a premium or deficit to their net asset value (NAV) and are susceptible to substantial price fluctuations based on market demand. He advises investors to use prudence when dealing with closed-end funds and to only engage in those that are trading below their NAV.

Chapter 10: The Investor and His Advisers

Graham points out that while many investors look to financial experts for counsel and direction, not all advisers are made equal. He emphasizes the significance of thoroughly assessing the credentials and expertise of any prospective adviser before choosing to work with them. He also issues a warning against advisers who make unrealistic return promises or engage in unethical or illegal behavior.

In addition, Graham talks about possible conflicts of interest that may develop between clients and their advisors, such as when advisors are compensated in the form of commissions or fees for suggesting particular assets. He advises investors to work with financial advisors who are open and honest about their fees and who put their customers’ interests ahead of their own financial benefit.

Graham also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using expert financial management services, such as hedge funds and mutual funds. He points out that while using these services can make it easy for individual investors to access a diverse array of assets, they can also come with expensive fees and costs that can reduce profits.

Chapter 11: Security Analysis for the Lay Investor: General Approach

Graham starts out by highlighting how crucial it is to comprehend both the inherent worth of a security and the dangers involved with investing in it. He observes that while many investors depend on advice and suggestions from others, a successful investor needs to have a solid grasp of the fundamental operations and financials of the businesses they engage in.

Graham also discusses a number of methods and instruments that private investors can use to perform their own security research, including reading financial records, figuring out profits per share, and comparing the relative worth of various securities using price-to-earnings ratios.

Chapter 12: Things to Consider About Per-Share Earnings

Graham starts off by pointing out that “EPS” is frequently regarded as one of the most crucial indicators for assessing a company’s financial success. He says that “EPS,” which is frequently used to evaluate the relative success of various businesses, is determined by dividing a company’s net income by the number of active shares.

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Graham also makes the point that if “EPS” is not viewed in the larger context of a company’s financial position, it may be a little deceptive. He points out, for instance, that bookkeeping techniques like stock buybacks or other one-time events can falsely boost “EPS,” which may not accurately represent the strength of the company’s operations.

Graham also stresses the value of looking at a company’s total financial security and health rather than just its EPS. To get a more comprehensive image of a company’s success, he advises buyers to look at a variety of financial measures, such as debt levels, profits growth, and reward payments.

Chapter 13: A Comparison of Four Listed Companies

“A Comparison of Four Listed Companies” is the title of Chapter 13 of Benjamin Graham’s book “The Intelligent Trader.” In this chapter, Graham examines four distinct businesses’ financial statements to demonstrate how to apply the concepts of security analysis to actual investments.

The four companies that Graham compares are:

  1. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T)
  2. Electric Bond and Share (EBAS)
  3. National Dairy Products (NDP)
  4. United Corporation (UC)

Graham offers a thorough study of the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement of each company’s financial statements. He analyzes and contrasts the companies’ profits, bonuses, and book value with those of other businesses operating in the same sector.

Graham emphasizes the significance of using unbiased data to assess a company’s business prospects through this analysis. He stresses the need for investors to pay attention to the business’s core factors rather than just the stock price or market sentiment.

Graham adds that although financial statements are a useful place to commence a study, they shouldn’t be the only factor considered when making investment choices. When assessing a business, investors must also take into account elements like market trends, managerial caliber, and competing advantages.

Chapter 14: Stock Selection for the Defensive Investor

Defensive investors, in Graham’s opinion, should seek both security and a respectable rate of return on their assets, and the key to doing so is through the cautious selection of stocks.

Graham advises cautious investors to keep their holdings to big, established businesses with a history of reliable profits and reward payments. He cautions against dealing in speculative stocks, fresh securities, and businesses with high debt levels or forecasts for rapid development.

Graham presents a set of quantitative standards that defensive investors should use to assess prospective assets in order to choose the suitable companies. The price-to-earnings (P/E), price-to-book (P/B), dividend yield, and profits increase are some examples of these. In order to prevent errors due to sporadic changes in earnings, he stresses that the P/E and P/B ratios should be based on average earnings over the previous 5–10 years.

Graham also emphasizes the significance of diversification, advising investors to keep no more than 5–10% of their portfolio in any one business and to strive to have between 10–30 various stocks in their portfolio. By doing this, you’ll be able to spread out the risk and guard against the damaging effects of any one company’s subpar performance.

Chapter 15: Stock Selection for the Enterprising Investor

According to Graham, an active investor has more freedom to choose specific companies than a cautious investor. However, he cautions that this strategy still carries a high chance of error and demands more work and ability.

Graham advises the intrepid investor to select stocks using a “positive” strategy that involves carefully examining each company and selecting those with a track record of strong profits, competent management, and solid financial standing. This strategy contrasts with the defensive investor’s “negative” strategy, which focuses on averting businesses with questionable financial histories and exorbitant values.

Graham also advises the astute investor to take into account a range of elements when evaluating a business, including its sector, rivals, market dominance, product quality, R&D, labor relations, and capital structure. He advises buyers to exercise prudence when it comes to “fad” businesses, overly leveraged corporations, and overvalued stock prices.

Graham also advises the astute trader to think about using a “margin of safety” strategy when investing in specific stocks. This entails purchasing stocks at a discount to their real worth in order to reduce the risk of losing money in the event of a market downturn or issue with a particular business.

In general, Graham stresses the value of thorough investigation and analysis when choosing specific stocks and cautions readers against depending entirely on hints or suggestions from others. He points out that the astute trader must be willing to spend the time and effort necessary to carefully choose specific stocks, as well as be ready to take the risks and uncertainties that go along with this strategy.

Chapter 16: Convertible Issues and Warrants

Securities known as convertible issues can be exchanged for a predetermined number of units of common equity at a predetermined price. This gives buyers the opportunity to engage in a bond’s security while also having the chance to profit from the stock’s price growth. Graham advises investors to only take into account convertible securities if they are of a high caliber, offer a respectable return, and have a conversion privilege that is not too dissimilar from the stock’s present market value.

Similar to options, warrants grant the holder the right to purchase common shares at a specific price within a predetermined window of time. Options have a shorter time frame than warrants, which are generally issued by the business. Graham recommends investors to only take into account warrants in the event that the business is reputable, and the warrant is trading at a fair price in comparison to its inherent worth.

In general, Graham advises that investors who are prepared to put in the time and effort to do their study and make informed decisions may find convertible issues and warrants to be useful investment choices. They should not be viewed as a replacement for ordinary stocks, though, as they come with their own dangers and restrictions.

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Chapter 17: Four Extremely Instructive Case Histories

Graham presents four thorough case studies of businesses and their assets in this chapter. He examines each company’s business operations and stock market activity to offer insights into the investments that were made and their effects.

The first case study looks at the gas transmission company Northern Pipeline Company. Graham points out that investors suffered sizable losses because the business was sold for much more than its true worth. The second case study involves the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), which Graham thought would make a wise investment at the time because of its economic edge and capable management. The third case study centers on American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), a business with a sizable competitive edge in the telecommunications sector. Graham concludes by analyzing the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company case, which featured a sizable insider trading controversy.

An essential lesson for buyers to remember when making stock market investments is found in Chapter 17. Graham emphasizes the value of fundamental research and long-term investing, and his case studies offer insightful information about how various businesses behave on the stock market.

Chapter 18: A Comparison of Eight Pairs of Companies

Benjamin Graham contrasts eight sets of businesses in Chapter 18 of “The Intelligent Investor” to highlight the fundamentals of asset analysis. An established business and a recent entry into the same sector make up each combination.

The contrast serves to show how value investing concepts can be used to analyze both established and emerging businesses. To assess a company’s success over time, Graham looks at its financial statements, including its balance sheet and revenue statement.

To assess each company’s development prospects and intrinsic worth, Graham also examines its profits per share and dividends. He stresses the significance of taking both quantitative and qualitative variables, such as management caliber, marketplace, and industry patterns, into account when choosing stocks.

Graham assesses each company separately and contrasts the two businesses in each combination to determine which is the more appealing venture. He points out that financial success and growth chances can vary significantly, even within the same sector.

Graham’s research brings him to the conclusion that while the newer businesses may have greater possibility for development and profit, the more established ones in each combination are typically the safer investments. He does, however, issue a warning that potential investors must closely consider the dangers involved with funding younger businesses, including the potential for failure.

Chapter 19: Shareholders and Managements: Dividend Policy

The connection between stockholders and management, particularly with regard to payout policy, is covered in Chapter 19 of Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor”. The chapter is broken up into two sections; the first part discusses the fundamental ideas and concepts of dividend policy, and the second part examines particular instances to highlight these ideas.

The regular dividend and the irregular dividend are the two main methods to payout policy that Graham discusses in the first section. The irregular dividend is variable and based on the company’s profits and other variables, while the regular dividend is a set sum given at regular intervals. Graham also covers the various kinds of rewards, including shares, cash, and script payouts.

Graham stresses that when buying stocks, the payout of dividends is not the most crucial factor to take into account. He claims that the company’s profits and its capacity to reinvest those earnings in successful initiatives are the most crucial elements. Graham also makes the point that a company’s payout policy may reveal how the management feels about stockholders.

Graham employs case studies to demonstrate the fundamentals of dividend policy in the second section of the chapter. He examines the payout practices of eight distinct businesses, among them General Electric, International Harvester, and American Can Company. When assessing a company’s dividend policy, Graham emphasizes the significance of taking into account the entire financial health of the organization, including its profits and assets.

Graham also stresses that investors should think about the possibility for future development in profits and dividends, rather than just concentrating on the present dividend yield. He advises investors to search for businesses that have a track record of steadily raising dividends, as this may be a sign of a solid financial situation and a dedication to stockholder value.

Chapter 20: “Margin of Safety” as the Central Concept of Investment

“Margin of Safety as the Central Concept of Investment.” is the title of Chapter 20 of Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Trader.” Graham focuses on the value of the safety cushion in buying in this chapter.

The discrepancy between a stock’s real worth and market price is known as the margin of safety. According to Graham, stock purchases should only be made when there is a sizable discount to the company’s inherent worth, giving buyers a margin of safety in the event of unexpected circumstances or market fluctuations.

According to Graham, buying without a safety cushion is speculating rather than investing. He thinks that rather than paying attention to short-term market fluctuations, investors should concentrate on a company’s inherent worth over the long run.

Graham also advises against over-diversification, which can reduce a portfolio’s possible profits. He advises making investments in a chosen few companies that have a high margin of safety.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who is Benjamin Graham?

Value investing is credited to Benjamin Graham as its founder. He served as Warren Buffett’s instructor and was a well-known economist and financial adviser.

Is “The Intelligent Investor” a good book for beginners?

The book “The Intelligent Investor” is excellent for novices, it’s true. It gives a thorough breakdown of the value investing tenets and offers helpful advice for investors of all experience levels.

What is value investing?

A financial strategy known as value investing entails purchasing undervalued securities. To do this, search for businesses with a solid balance sheet, a track record of success, and a cheap price-to-earnings ratio.


Benjamin Graham’s ageless masterpiece “The Intelligent Investor” offers insightful advice on making wise investment decisions.