The best books to understand value investing and business value

Who am I?

As an investor and a professional business valuation specialist, I have a passion for understanding the true intrinsic value of both publicly-traded and closely-held (private) companies. There’s no denying that Warren Buffett, emulating the example of his mentor Benjamin Graham, applied a private company valuation approach to the selection of publicly-traded stocks and the results speak for themselves. Furthermore, given my somewhat technical educational and vocational background, I am more comfortable than most valuators with highly technical and IP-weighted businesses. That is why I consider IP valuation to be an integral element of business valuation. 


I wrote...

The Einstein Money: The Life and Timeless Financial Wisdom of Benjamin Graham

By Joe Carlen,

Book cover of The Einstein Money: The Life and Timeless Financial Wisdom of Benjamin Graham

What is my book about?

Warren Buffett – widely considered the most successful investor of all time – has repeatedly acknowledged Benjamin Graham as the primary influence on his investment approach. Indeed, there is a direct line between the record-shattering investing performance of Buffett (and other value investors) and Graham's life. In six books and dozens of papers, Graham-known as the "Dean of Wall Street," left an extensive account of an investing system that, as Buffett can attest, actually works!

This biography of Benjamin Graham, the first written with access to his posthumously published memoirs, explains Graham's most essential wealth-creation concepts while telling the colorful story of his amazing business career and his multifaceted, unconventional personal life. The author distills the best from Graham's extensive published works and draws from personal interviews.

The books I picked & why

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The Intelligent Investor

By Benjamin Graham,

Book cover of The Intelligent Investor

Why this book?

The most popular book by the father of value investing, The Intelligent Investor imparts Graham’s time-tested stock and bond selection principles in a manner that is less technical and more conversational than Graham and Dodd’s earlier Security AnalysisGraham’s core principles around conducting intrinsic value analysis first and then purchasing securities that the market has mispriced at below that value are all addressed here in wonderful Graham prose. Since he pioneered that strategy, it makes good sense to read directly from the master. 

Aside from that, what I like about this book is that it addresses the often overlooked but vital psychological aspects of investing. Last but not least, did I mention that The Intelligent Investor is Warren Buffett’s favorite investment book of all time? When I interviewed him for my own book, he stated that Graham’s book “just made clear sense to me as a book about investing, and I’ve been following it ever since.”

The Intelligent Investor

By Benjamin Graham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Intelligent Investor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic bestseller by Benjamin Graham, "The Intelligent Investor" has taught and inspired hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Since its original publication in 1949, Benjamin Graham's book has remained the most respected guide to investing, due to his timeless philosophy of "value investing", which helps protect investors against the areas of possible substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies with which they will be comfortable down the road. Over the years, market developments have borne out the wisdom of Graham's basic policies, and in today's volatile market, "The Intelligent Investor" is the most important book you will…

The Warren Buffett Way

By Robert G. Hagstrom,

Book cover of The Warren Buffett Way

Why this book?

While Graham is the pioneer of value investing, there’s no question that his student, employee, and, ultimately, close friend Warren Buffett is its most successful practitioner. Although the essence of their respective approaches is similar, there are some important differences to understand. As the best book about Buffett’s investing style that I’ve encountered thus far, Hagstrom’s The Warren Buffett Way highlights some of Buffett’s most astonishing investment coups and the logic behind them. Upon reading both of those books, the reader will have gained a nuanced understanding of how Buffett took the Graham approach to business valuation/security selection and improved upon it. 

The Warren Buffett Way

By Robert G. Hagstrom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Warren Buffett Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Warren Buffett is the most famous investor of all time and one of today s most admired business leaders. He became a billionaire and investment sage by looking at companies as businesses rather than prices on a stock screen. The first two editions of The Warren Buffett Way gave investors their first in-depth look at the innovative investment and business strategies behind Buffett s spectacular success. The new edition updates readers on the latest investments by Buffett. And, more importantly, it draws on the new field of behavioral finance to explain how investors can overcome the common obstacles that prevent…

The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit

By Aswath Damodaran,

Book cover of The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit

Why this book?

The process of business valuation lies at the core of value investing. That’s what Damodaran, longtime Professor of Finance at NYU, addresses in this book. An excellent distillation of the key business valuation approaches that are most relevant for investment, The Little Book of Valuation will make the valuation work less daunting and less arduous for the lay investor of the 21st century. 

As well, like the two previous books, this book also underscores the fact that, without a systematic approach to valuing publicly-traded stocks as if they were private companies, proper value investing is not even possible, let alone profitable. Perhaps to underscore this truth, one of the recommendation blurbs is provided by Shannon Pratt, one of the leading gurus of private business valuation and the author of my 4th book pick.

The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit

By Aswath Damodaran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Book of Valuation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An accessible, and intuitive, guide to stock valuation Valuation is at the heart of any investment decision, whether that decision is to buy, sell, or hold. In The Little Book of Valuation, expert Aswath Damodaran explains the techniques in language that any investors can understand, so you can make better investment decisions when reviewing stock research reports and engaging in independent efforts to value and pick stocks. Page by page, Damodaran distills the fundamentals of valuation, without glossing over or ignoring key concepts, and develops models that you can easily understand and use. Along the way, he covers various valuation…

Valuing a Business: The Analysis and Appraisal of Closely Held Companies

By Shannon P. Pratt, Alina V. Niculita,

Book cover of Valuing a Business: The Analysis and Appraisal of Closely Held Companies

Why this book?

Aside from valuing businesses for investment purposes, I am a practitioner of the valuation of private (or “closely held”) businesses. In my profession of business valuation, the late Shannon Pratt is widely recognized as one of the leading gurus, not least because of the six editions of Valuing a Business. I recommend this book here because, if one can master even a few of the rigorous business valuation methods detailed in this book, that will elevate one’s value investing skills tremendously. The previous books all set the stage and offer enough practical advice for one to progress from beginner to intermediate but, for those eager to master business valuation and, therefore, the determination of intrinsic value, Valuing a Business would be the next logical step. 

Valuing a Business: The Analysis and Appraisal of Closely Held Companies

By Shannon P. Pratt, Alina V. Niculita,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valuing a Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Capitalize on All the Latest Legal, Financial, and ComplianceInformation Needed to Analyze and Appraise Any Business

For over 25 years, Valuing a Business has provided professionals and students with expert business valuation information, offering clear, concise coverage of valuation principles and methods. Over the decades, the book's unsurpassed explanations of all valuation issues have made it the definitive text in the field, against which every other business valuation book is measured.

Now updated with new legal, financial, and compliance material, the Fifth Edition of Valuing a Business presents detailed answers to virtually all valuation questions_ranging from executive compensation and lost…


IP Valuation for the Future: Trends, Techniques, and Case Studies

By Weston Anson,

Book cover of IP Valuation for the Future: Trends, Techniques, and Case Studies

Why this book?

In our increasingly technology-dependent economy, business value and the value of intellectual property (IP) intersect like never before. That’s why understanding how to value patents (both individual patents and patent portfolios), trademarks, and copyrights are essential skills to those serious about discerning business value in the 21st century. Mr. Anson includes a good discussion of the best IP valuation methods and the case studies are especially instructive. 

IP Valuation for the Future: Trends, Techniques, and Case Studies

By Weston Anson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked IP Valuation for the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In today's economic landscape, there is a growing awareness of intellectual property and its value at all levels. IP Valuation for the Future looks at all matters related to IP value, whether the value is in a transaction, litigation, or other context. This guide provides a valuation overview for attorneys who need a basic grounding in the principles and financial standards of IP valuation along with a basic review of the core attributes, categories, and permutations of various IP.
In addition, this is a helpful resource for bankers, financial professionals, venture capitalists, and other professionals. It also serves as an…

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