Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits,
published in 1958, was the first investing book to reach the New York Times bestseller list. One of the most influential investing books of all time, it outlines a 15-step process for identifying profitable stocks, which includes two main categories: 1. The quality of management, and 2. The characteristics of the business. Fisher evaluated management on the basis of integrity, conservative accounting, and accessibility, openness to change, financial controls, and good personnel policies. He evaluated business characteristics for long-term growth prospects, high profit margins, high return on capital, a commitment to research and development, sales organization, industry position, and having a proprietary product or service. Finally, Fisher emphasizes the importance of talking with customers, suppliers, and employees to gather information that may not come across in official financial statements. Utilizing this method, Fisher advises investors to focus on a small number of high quality stocks and hold onto those stocks for a long period of time.
Paths to Wealth Through Common Stocks, published in 1960, expands the innovative ideas in Fisher's highly regarded Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits - summarizing how profits have been and will continue to be made through common stock ownership and asserting why his method can increase profits and reduce risk. In particular, the book addresses the question central to long-term stock investors: What comprises a "high quality" management team? Many of the ideas here depart from conventional wisdom, but Fisher's long-term investment result proves their effectiveness. While sections of the book focus on the investment landscape of 1960, Fisher's methodology in assessing risk and opportunity at that time can be applied anew to today's investment environment. The important idea is that high quality companies exist in every economic environment and investing cycle and the key to investing success is identifying and sticking with those companies through the long term.