This classic book secured Benjamin Graham's status as a Wall Stree immortal.
Beginning with bonds and moving quickly to stocks, Graham and Dodd go over all of the angles. Articulating a comprehensive theory of fixed-value and common stock investment, they examine in detail the various factors that one should consider when valuing securities. Dividends, extraordinary items, depreciation, amortization, capital structure and balance sheet analysis are all described and defined in lurid detail. It is impossible to read Security Analysis and not come away with a deeper understanding of corporate finance and how it relates to investing.
On the downside, let's be frank--Security Analysis is not an easy book to read. However, it remains one of the key textbooks for communicating fundamental analysis to millions of MBAs, in spite of the fact that it first saw print 63 years ago. I personally believe that reading and understanding most of Security Analysis would make a great benchmark for determining whether or not you are ready to start investing your money in specific investments. Sure, Graham is very value-biased in his investment philosophy, but looking for growth without focusing on the price you are paying is the golden road to underperformance. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The "fifth edition" is just another fat and overpriced textbook, taking advantage of the Graham and Dodd brand to sell a quite unrelated product. By all means, buy the classic written by the original authors (1934, 1940 editions), but stay away from this "fifth edition." It's really the "first edition" of something quite different and not very impressive.
This book will be beget appreciation from professional and/or passionate fundamental analysts. Meanwhile, this book should be must reading for all young professionals who think that the world is different today and that history has nothing to teach us!
As an answer I give an anecdote from Warren Buffett's life:
When stock investments started to become popular, the volume increased ten fold, and the modern techniques to make a profit were developed, Warren Buffet was extremely worried. He remembered what happened in 1929. He loathed the new trends in investment that tried to predict the future price of a stock. Therefore he had a meeting with all his fellow Graham students, he expressly forbid to bring anything newer than the 1934 edition of Security Analysis.
This happened decades ago, but history repeats. We all know what happened 3 years ago. We all know how "experts" thought that the market was booming, and how they let it crash. We all know how they made a profit on the money that private investors lost.
Nowadays when I go shopping for a book I always look at the date of pubblication, if it is between 1997 and 2000 I'm very wary. All those books about "new economy", "digital era", "e-commerce", "dot coms", etc. have to be taken with the maximum attention. Usually they contain a lot of inflated ideas that as we look at what happened after they were written we understand how much those "experts" really understand about stock investments.
If they were wrong then, why should they be righ now?
Trust me, but more importantly, trust Graham, trust Buffett, (those that have been consistently right for 50 years) this is the book to buy, "anything newer looks suspicious."