First of all, I like the author's writing style, and I like much of the information, research and "factoids" in the book. I also think the author is probably a pretty nice guy. Any son who notices that his parent's lawnmower needs oil, then takes the time to "google" the best type of oil, THEN goes and buys that particular oil, and then mows the lawn, is more than okay in my book. He comes across as: 1) observant and 2) responsible. These are qualities I look for in any investment guru.
I also think his methods for motivating younger investors might just click with many of them.
Like many of the other reviewers, I noticed that Mr. Camillo has read the Peter Lynch books. I found my own dusty copies that I've had since the 1990's (Beating The Street, and One Up On Wall Street, each with a $2.99 sticker on the front) and looked through them for comparison purposes. Both Lynch and Camillo like to make observations at the mall, noting that high traffic stores could be attached to companies that are returning large profits. These are potential stock picks, but only after investigating further, using due diligence. I was impressed with Mr. Camillo's rejection of Coach after he investigated further. He really shines when it comes to due diligence and apparently he has made good decisions based on his investigations -- buying some stocks, rejecting others. Where Lynch and Camillo part company, though, is that Lynch buys the actual stock, and Camillo favors options. He explicity tells how to buy options in "Chapter 9: Fake It 'Til You Make It!"
In the chapter titled, "See It, Believe It!" Camillo points out that as a self-directed investor, he has gathered (and since discarded) two decades of investment books and "how-to-invest" articles, that have been written by well-intentioned "experts," but that "suspiciously," these experts never "published or offered access to their own audited multi-year investment returns as proof of their claims of being able to substantially outperform either the stock market at large or the performance of a randomly assembled portfolio."
He writes: "Whenever I meet people dishing out investment advice, I always ask them to disclose their personal investment returns for the prior three-year period. If I ran a financial and investing television network, I would institute a "Why Should I Listen to You?" meter, which would prominently display on-screen the three-year investment returns of every guest pundit during the full length of their on-air interview." (67)
After reading this, my expectations were high, and I thought, "If this author details his actual stock picks, dates, and amounts invested, earned and re-invested 'in only three years,' printed on the back cover) to earn $2 million from his original $20K investment this book will receive a high review." Although detailed information was not forthcoming in this book, there is a post on his website from an independent accounting firm in Texas. A statement from CPAs shows that on September 1, 2006 the initial balance was $83,752 and on April 30, 2010, the balance was $2,337,559 for a yield of 774.22% (Average Annual Rate Of Return). A 774% rate of return, while not impossible, is a rare achievement and an incredible accomplishment.
I would have liked to have seen more detailed information in "Laughing At Wall Street," though: a rough outline of his portfolio during the "three years" it took him to realized substantial gains detailing his bigger trades and generalizing his smaller ones, (including specific dates, or even chunks of time).
He stated that he did purchase Activision, the maker of Guitar Hero (page 97) and in less personal terms, he wrote: "As little as $1,000 invested in Ugg's parent company, Decker in late 2002...parlayed into True Religion stock in early 2004, and again parlayed into the stock of Crocs shortly after the company's IPO in February of 2006, would have grown to $750,000 by 2007. That's 750 times your money in just five years." (97-98) Other stocks he MAY have purchased would have been: IMAX, Netflix, Salesforce and Cerner. He also mentioned Apple, but did HE invest in it when the investing was good? Did HE invest in Decker, True Religion, and Crocs? Inquiring minds want to know.
Overall, "Laughing at Wall Street" is motivational, easy to read and outlines how to save money on fees (anywhere from 1% to 3%) by being a self-directed investor.