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on August 6, 2003
In a world filled with mutual fund managers who make millions for underperforming the S&P over the duration of their careers, students of investing should always ask to see a teacher's audited investment results before listening to a word.
Joel Greenblatt produced 50%+ annual returns over ten years. To put this superlative performance in context, it is better than Warren Buffet's. Quite simply: Greenblatt is an investing master and his teachings are worthy of special consideration.
The pleasure of this book is its simplicity. The kind of rigorous homework Greenblatt suggests is not easy to do in practice, but this is a key reason why it can be such fruitful work to do. Greenblatt's logic is driven by simple, fundamental and powerful truths: a) investing only in your best few ideas tends to lead to a higher quality portfolio, b) doing work where others are not contributes to an investment edge and c) there is statistical evidence to show that value investing and special situations outperform the broader market over time.
The book is filled with humor, common sense and a lot of investing wisdom. Greenblatt has opened the door, students must walk through it themselves...
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on July 15, 2004
Greenblatt does a good job explaining spinoffs, mergers, bankruptcies, etc. and how they can be create market-beating investments. He presents data backing up his theories, and also provides many good examples of finding such investment situations. He also explains the criteria for what qualifies a good risk/reward ratio in these types of investments.
However, one thing I want to point out is that you have to definitely do some research on each investment if you want to truly put Greenbaltt's put methods into efective practice. If you are willing to go through SEC filings and do thoroguh research on each investment you make, then the type of investing found in this book might be right for you.
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on June 20, 2014
Joel has produced an excellent, simple and effective illustration on how to become a genius in the stock market. Hats off to perhaps the most informative stock market books I have ever read. What really strike me and certainly speaks highly about the integrity of Joel, and his love for others, is the fact that Joel does not need the income from this book. His simple desire is to help others, unlike others who are much more wealthier than him, who have chosen to only charge fees for their stock marker wisdom. In my opinion that is just total greed. People this world can do without.
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This book is for those who cannot resist the idea of wanting to outperform the market averages. For most people, that's dumb idea . . . and indexed mutual funds would be a better choice.

But if you are willing to roll up your sleeves, put on your green eyeshade and look at things differently, Mr. Greenblatt's approach is a very valid one.

If you read only one of Mr. Greenblatt's books about investing (the other one is The Little Book That Beats the Market), read this one. You'll make more money with this one.

You can be a Stock Market Genius has the simplest explanation for special situations investing involving unusual securities that I have seen for the lay person.

For most people, this book will be a lot to chew on. I suggest that you start by simply trying to understand and apply one idea in the book . . . such as finding under priced small spin-off stocks. After you get the handle on that one, go on to another approach that interests you.

I have worked for over three decades helping companies design these new securities that fascinate Mr. Greenblatt so much. From that experience, I'm constantly amazed at how stupidly most corporate finance departments and investment banks pursue these new structures. I suspect that the answer is that the heavy brainpower is saved for more profitable work like M&A.

As a result, you will almost always find a great investment opportunity if you look at unusual securities. I encourage you to begin by spending a half hour getting the background on any unusual transaction you read about.

You can also improve on this book by doing more precise measurements of securities values (if you have the background to do that), but for many severely undervalued securities Mr. Greenblatt's approach of taking guesses about what a reasonable value is will work just fine.

Although the examples are older, these kinds of opportunities still abound in most categories he discusses (stub stocks are the exception). Mr. Greenblatt has a real talent for putting his cases together to make them easier to understand.

Have a ball!
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on October 3, 2001
Okay, so the title of the book leaves something to be desired, but that is the ONLY part of this book that falls short. Joel Greenblatt has written an excellent book on profiting from special situations. That's fortunate for the rest of us, since so far as I can tell, this is the ONLY book that provides an overview of event-driven investing. Note that I said "overview"--it's by no means definitive, nor does it claim to be. Certainly more rigorous treatments of risk arbitrage exist. However, this is the only book I'm aware of that is dedicated to explaining merger securities, spinoffs, recapitalizations, bankruptcy and yes, risk arbitrage.
The book's format is well thought out: each chapter explains the how and why of investing in one particular corporate event, and then utilizes case studies to ram the point home. The case studies are interesting, reading at times like a novel. The tone is lighthearted and endearing throughout, and the frequent jokes, although usually kitschy, hit the mark nonetheless. (One gem: "There are three types of people in the world--those who can count, and those who can't.")
This book is not for everyone, however. Beginners should first read Peter Lynch, Ben Graham, and Phillip Fisher before tackling this one. Greenblatt assumes a reasonable degree of comfort with financial statements and value investing strategies on the part of the reader. The use of LEAPS and options in special situations is covered, but should be avoided by all save for the most advanced investors (as per the author's advice). Also, professionals working in the field of event-driven investments would probably find little they did not already know. That being said, the book reads quickly, so a pro would be little disadvantaged for reading it.
Finally, it's nice to know that the author can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Greenblatt publishes his firm's audited returns over a ten-year period at the end of the book, and they are out of this world. We're talking an average annual return of 50% for ten years. This book is not a case of "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Greenblatt can, and he does.
Highly recommended.
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on June 12, 1997
Don't be turned off by the book's funky title. "You can be astock market genius" is actually one of the few investment classicsout there. The book does not deal with everyday investment jargons. (Low PE, high growth rate, etc.) Instead, it focuses on rare special corporate events. And how investors may profit by looking through these small cracks which the greater investment community often ignored and misunderstood. Although I doubt many individual investors will be able to fully utilize what the author suggested. (It is a difficult proccess which required substantial background in related areas.) These corporate events are often quite unique in each individual case. And some of them carry tremendous risk. (eg. bankruptcy) Yet, if use properly. These methods can dramatically magnify one's return. (For instance, the section where he discussed how investors can use Leaps in turnaround situations.) Even for those readers who do not attempt to participate in special situation investing, Mr. Greenblatt's logic and methods are very beneficial in shaping investment decisions in general.
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on March 26, 2000
I really liked this one. In addition to his straight-forward advice and interesting examples, he provides general stock research advice like where on the Internet one can find SEC documents, which ones are important to read, and what other books he recommends. Not only is it useful, but the book is quite funny; Greenblatt makes sure that his readers won't fall asleep while reading it. This book definitely gets a buy recommendation.
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on May 5, 2000
This is an amazingly generous roadmap to lesser-known corners of the securities market. When I first picked it up about 2 years ago, I was terribly disappointed because all the strategies Greenblatt describes require a fair amount of WORK and careful thought --and it was my impression that "Stock Market Genius" entailed effortless wizardry! But the work is contagious and engaging (like digging for buried treasure, as aptly described by Joel Greenblatt).
Despite the book's schleppy and seemingly unrealistic title, Greenblatt's descriptions are wonderfully realistic and honest. In particular, although I've looked for other resources on spinoff investment strategies, everything you really need to know is in this book. The author's style is flippant but endearing, and the reader will get more than his/her money's worth from the ideas described in this book.
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on May 5, 1997
This book is witty engaging and filled with solid advice.Greenblatt's methods are quite different than those of a standardvalue investor. He points out potential areas in which value is likely to be found, namely spinoffs, mergers, bankruptcies and such "special situations". He does not minimize the amount of work needed to verify that an idea really represents value, but he claims that it should not be too hard to find several good values every year, which is all the individual investor needs (his advantage over a mutual fund). This book goes on my very short list of stock market classics, along with Klarman's Margin of Safety.
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on January 26, 2002
I was in Joel Greenblatt's class at Columbia and he assigned this book. It is by far the most useful equity investing book I've ever read. You can't argue with the success of Special Situation investing or with his track record. He gives real life examples showing his thought process and by the end of the book you realize there is no "trick." It's just keeping your eyes open to these situations and realizing that in many cases the individual investor has a distinct advantage over the institutions that have size and style constraints regarding their investing.
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