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Why This Edition Instead of 3rd/4th Edition?
on June 19, 2003
Why they republished this edition when they might have republished the Second or Third Revised Edition (by Graham and Charles McGolrick, published in 1964 and 1975, respectively) beats me. The latter two editions are unquestionably better,as both are more current, and contain more useful tips regarding contextual interpretation.
It's true that the primary value of Graham's text is its framework, which provides concision in summarizing a potentially confusing topic. This framework persists through all four editions. Also, it's true that all four editions are pretty dated (there is no discussion of cash flow statement interpretation in any edition obviously, for example, although Graham alludes to the significance of cashflow interpretation somewhat disparagingly in the latter editions).
But all of Graham's guidelines for balance sheet analysis are still current in the latter two editions, as are his brief guidelines for bond analysis and earnings power. The first edition seems less useful in these respects.
One might assume that there is value in going back to the first edition of this small volume as one might go back to the first edition of Security Analysis. There are indeed nuggets in the first edition of Security Analysis which have been mysteriously removed from later editions. But that isn't true with The Interpretation of Financial Statements. If you can get your hands on a copy of the 1964 or 1975 edition of this book, you will likely find either more useful than this original edition.