Is ‘The Intelligent Investor’ still relevant? (2024)

The Intelligent Investor, written by Benjamin Graham, a former Columbia Business School professor, and first published in 1949, has widely been regarded as the investment bible, particularly for those new to the world of investments. But is it still relevant today?

Written over 70 years ago, some believe that Graham's book is outdated. What worked then no longer works in today's markets, but while some of the information may not have stood the test of time, there are three key things we can take from the book that remain relevant today.

1. Understand Which Type of Investor You Are

Graham determines two ways to be an intelligent investor. You can be either an active or defensive investor. Knowing which one you are can help you be a better investor. So what is active investing and defensive investing?

  • Active investing: These investors have the time and ability to evaluate their stocks. This type of investing can be exhausting but also intellectually stimulating. Graham defines this type of investing as suitable for highly competitive people who want complex intellectual challenges.

    Active investors decide which assets to buy or sell based on their own analysis and research. Active investors typically try to outperform the market by making investment decisions that they believe will produce higher returns than a passive investment strategy. This can involve buying undervalued assets or selling overvalued ones.

    Active investors also consider macroeconomic trends, the domestic economy, and the performance of specific companies or industries. Active investing requires a greater time commitment and a higher level of knowledge and expertise than passive investing, and it is not always successful.

  • Defensive investing: These investors have limited time, interest, or skills to evaluate financial and company performance. It is best for investors who don't have time or want simplicity.

    Defensive investing is a strategy that focuses on protecting the investor's capital rather than trying to maximize returns. This is typically achieved by investing in low-risk, income-generating assets, such as high-quality bonds and dividend-paying stocks. The goal of defensive investing is to provide a steady income stream and protect the investor's capital from market volatility and downturns. As a result, defensive investors are often willing to accept lower potential returns in exchange for the peace of mind and stability that come from having a more conservative investment portfolio.
    Defensive investing is often pursued by investors nearing retirement or with a low risk tolerance. It is also commonly used to diversify a broader investment portfolio and reduce overall risk.

As our lives are busier than ever, many investors adopt a buy-and-hold long-term strategy. This would be classed as defensive investing. Equally, during the pandemic, when people had more free time, there was a rise in active retail investors. Disruptive trading platforms such as Robinhood make stock trading easier and can help facilitate active investing strategies.

Today, there is a third type of investor, a combination of the two, where investors allocate a percentage of their portfolio to each type of investment strategy. For example, 80% of their portfolio may be dedicated to long-term, lower-risk investments, and 20% is reserved for short-term higher-risk investments.

2. Be Ready for Mr. Market's Mood Swings

The market, or 'Mr. Market', as Graham refers to it, can be unpredictable and volatile, at times when you expect it and at times when you don't. Graham suggests that to be an intelligent investor, you shouldn't pay too much attention to market fluctuations in share prices.

This isn't to say you should never look at it, but Graham suggests reviewing it periodically rather than watching it like a hawk. Being too focused on share prices, i.e., checking daily, can lead to emotional responses that could be costly.

For example, when the US stock market declined by around 30% in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic, many investors panicked and sold stock at a loss. Many also saw this as an opportunity to buy more stock while the price was low. By the end of 2020, the market rose by 68%, – 16% higher than it was at the beginning of the year.

3. Ensure You Invest with a Margin of Safety

Quite possibly one of the most valuable learnings to take from The Intelligent Investor, Graham encourages investors to always invest with a margin of safety to protect themselves from unforeseen risks, such as a global pandemic.

If investors buy low or at a discount, they benefit when prices rise, but they are also better placed to weather a sharp downturn in the market. This is a valid risk-mitigation strategy and one that many investors still follow.

Is The Intelligent Investor Still Relevant Today?

Yes, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham is still considered a classic and relevant book on investing. It was first published in 1949 and has been updated several times.

The book offers timeless advice on investing, such as the importance of being disciplined and focusing on the long term. It also covers the basics of fundamental analysis, which is the process of evaluating a company's financial health and performance.

Overall, the Intelligent Investor is considered an essential read for anyone looking to improve their understanding of investing and make more informed decisions.

What is the Latest Version of 'The Intelligent Investor'?

The latest version of Ben Graham’s 'The Intelligent Investor' is the revised edition that includes a preface and appendices by Warren Buffett, as well as updated commentary by financial journalist Jason Zweig whose perspective adds a modern touch to the timeless wisdom of Graham, making the book more relatable to today's investors. Buffett's contributions serve as a testament to the enduring relevance of Graham's investment philosophy. This edition successfully bridges the gap between historical investment wisdom and current market conditions, offering readers a comprehensive guide to value investing.

So if you are looking to find out ‘What is the latest edition of 'The Intelligent Investor'?’, this revised edition aims to make Benjamin Graham's timeless principles applicable to today's financial markets. It serves as an updated guide that helps investors navigate the complexities of modern investing while staying true to Graham's philosophy of value investing.

Currently, two versions of the book are in print. The first is the 1973 edition, modified in 2006 to include Jason Zweig's insightful commentary. The second is a less common 1949 edition, reprinted in 2005, featuring a foreword by John Bogle.

Both editions of The Intelligent Investor offer valuable insights, but the revised edition with Zweig's commentary remains the most popular and relevant for contemporary readers.

Titled "The Intelligent Investor Rev Ed.: The Definitive Book on Value Investing," this paperback edition by Benjamin Graham has inspired hundreds of thousands of people worldwide since its original publication in 1949. The book stands as the most respected guide to investing, thanks to Graham's enduring philosophy of value investing.

This approach to value investing helps shield investors from substantial errors and encourages the development of long-term strategies. Over the years, market developments have validated Graham's basic policies, making "The Intelligent Investor" an indispensable read in today's volatile market.

The HarperBusiness Essentials edition features new chapter updates by Jason Zweig, which append every chapter of Graham's original text. These updates offer readers an even clearer understanding of how to apply Graham's wisdom in today's financial landscape.

Alternative Investing Books With ‘Intelligent Investor’ In the Title

Of Course, Ben Graham’s book is not the only investing book worth reading today. Some other books on investing with ‘Intelligent Investor’ in the title include:

  • The Intelligent Fund Investor: Practical Steps for Better Results in Active and Passive Funds (Paperback) Joe Wiggins (author)

  • The Intelligent REIT Investor Guide: How to Sleep Well at Night with Safe and Reliable Dividend Income (Hardback) Brad Thomas (author)

  • The Intelligent Option Investor: Applying Value Investing to the World of Options (Hardback) Erik Kobayashi-Solomon (author)

  • Bogle On Mutual Funds: New Perspectives for the Intelligent Investor (Hardback) John Bogle (author)

  • Stock Market Investing For Beginners- Simple Stock Investing Guide To Become An Intelligent Investor And Make Money In Stocks by David Morales

  • Warren Buffett's 3 Favorite Books: A Guide to the Intelligent Investor, Security Analysis, and the Wealth of Nations by Preston George Pysh

There are also various summary versions of 'The Intelligent Investor' available and written by a mix of authors.

Check out some more of our investing-themed articles:

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  • What is the INDEXDJX: .DJI?

If you liked this post, why not read What is Value Investing?

Is ‘The Intelligent Investor’ still relevant? (2024)
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