Value Investing | Bruce C. Greenwald

Summary of: Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond
By: Bruce C. Greenwald


Dive into the world of value investing with the insightful book ‘Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond’ by Bruce C. Greenwald. This book summary showcases the core principles of value investing and provides a unique perspective on how to make smart investment decisions. Explore the theoretical and practical aspects of value investing that differentiate it from traditional stock market theories. Grasp the importance of patience and humility, as well as the need for an investor to specialize in one area to refine decision-making abilities. Discover the concept of franchise value and various methods to calculate a company’s inherent worth. This book summary will offer you the essential knowledge to build a long-lasting, robust investment strategy.

Value Investing: A Theoretical & Practical Superior Approach

The concept of modern investment theory is built on market efficiency which indicates that the market already incorporates all the information available on a company. However, value investors disagree with this theory due to many reasons and regard the market as somewhat inefficient. They believe that one can make rational decisions based on data rather than emotions and that portfolios assembled with value investing principles outperform the market indices. In addition, behavioral finance proves that investors’ decisions are more emotion-based than rational. Moreover, some firms are overvalued or undervalued in the market. The author states that the case for value investing is both theoretical and practical. In essence, the concept of value investing is to invest in securities that are undervalued and offer a considerable potential for profit. This approach provides investors with a superior methodical way to invest while being profitable.

Mastering the Art of Value Investing

Value investing is a process of calculating the fundamental value of a security and buying it if it is priced lower than its real value. The value investors are not price forecasters, technicians or macro-fundamental investors, they are focused on a few selected stocks and have a deep understanding of their economics. Value investors have to be patient and wait for a real bargain to come along, and then wait further for the market to recognize the true value. The key to value investing is to know what to invest in and when. Corporate bonds and stocks are the primary areas of focus for value investors. The process of value investing demands two virtues – humility and patience. Humility to know what one knows and what one doesn’t know, and patience to wait for the right opportunity to make the investment. Value investing is not child’s play, and it can yield great returns if done with discipline and patience.

Value Investing Strategies

Value investing strategies involve policies and prohibitions that affect stock prices, and can help investors find hidden bargains in spin-offs and small stocks.

The book discusses how value investing strategies work and why they are not dependent on a completely rational and efficient market. One significant factor is the prohibitions that major funds have that ban them from owning certain stocks. For example, many funds prohibit investment in tobacco stocks, which results in a low demand for such stocks, ultimately depressing the price. Such stocks may never fully recover, even if the market recognizes their value, unless the restrictions are lifted.

Another factor that affects the price of small stocks is the policies of investment funds that forbid them from investing in firms with low market capitalization. When small companies grow large enough for significant funds to invest in them, the demand for their stocks increases, and their price reflects their full value. The book gives spin-offs as an example of small stocks that value investors often find bargains in.

Through a clear writing style, the book highlights how value investing strategies can help investors find hidden gems in spin-offs and small stocks, despite the prohibitions that major funds have in place, presenting a unique opportunity for investors who are willing to do their homework.

Value Investing Principles

This summary provides an overview of the principles of value investing. It explores the types of companies that are often overlooked, such as small stocks, spin-offs, and boring firms that can offer bargains. The summary also explains how to calculate fundamental value using assets, cash flow, and growth. It provides insights into the concept of franchise value and highlights factors to consider when assessing a company’s value. Finally, the summary stresses the importance of avoiding overpaying for a company, using examples of companies like Daimler-Benz to illustrate the risks.

Value Investing Principles

Value investing is a disciplined approach to investing that involves buying stocks that are undervalued by the market. This summary provides an overview of the principles of value investing and how to apply them to identify good investments.

Obscure Stocks

The market tends to overlook some types of companies, and these often make great investments for value investors. Small stocks, spin-offs, and boring firms that chug along in mediocrity are often ignored by analysts. The dearth of attention results in discounts on the stock prices, creating buying opportunities for value investors.


Another type of investment opportunity is present in bankrupt companies, troubled industries, and companies subject to lawsuits. These companies tend to attract negative reactions from investors, undervaluing their assets and creating bargains for value investors.

Special Situations

Value investors are always on the lookout for special situations that can offer profitable investments. For example, the Resolution Trust Company took over busted savings and loans and pumped their assets into the market at bargain prices. Similarly, some stocks may have good prospects except for one division that is dragging down their numbers. In such situations, identifying and recognizing the true value requires knowledge and expertise.

Calculating Value

Value investors consider three factors to compute the fundamental value of a company: assets, cash flow, and growth. The assets’ value is estimated by looking at the balance sheet and adjusting for book values that are more accurate for some assets and liabilities than for others. Similarly, cash flow is computed using the Earnings Power Value (EPV) formula that considers the level of distributable cash flow and the cost of capital. Growth is often exaggerated, and investors need to determine if a firm has a competitive edge that can sustain it and whether the cost of growth exceeds the potential returns.

Franchise Value

Franchise value is the difference between EPV and asset value, and it helps value investors assess a company’s true value. EPV lower than asset value indicates management is doing a bad job, while an EPV approximately equal to asset value means that management is mediocre and the firm lacks a competitive edge. An EPV higher than asset value may indicate that management is outstanding, and the company has substantial competitive advantages. However, investors must also consider the sustainability of the company’s franchise value.

Avoid Overpaying

Overpaying for a company represents an inherent risk for investors. Companies with significant profits attract competitors, reducing potential future returns. Daimler-Benz had enormous profits in the 1960s, but the profits attracted competitors, making it difficult for the company to generate significant returns. Consequently, the company’s pretax returns were at or below the cost of capital, making it an unsuccessful and risky investment for value investors.


Value investing is a sound investment strategy that requires a disciplined approach and a lot of patience. The principles of value investing discussed in this summary can be applied to identify profitable investments that can generate significant returns while minimizing risks.

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