Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Book reflections on Common stocks and uncommon profits

Some books hit on you straight away, leaving you with a proverbial light bulb glimmering brightly over your head. For others, you need to slowly grow with it.

Phil Fisher's Common stocks and Uncommon Profits and other writings belong to the second type. The book didn't particularly strike me as "AH-HA", yet the more I read, the better it gets. I guess when I read it the 2nd and 3rd time in the future (I intend to get this book), I'll be able to derive more information out of it.

That said, it's not totally a waste of time. Far from it, it's actually quite an interesting read. Now, interesting is different from enlightening. Buffettology is enlightening, Morningstar investment books are enlightening...but somehow Phil Fisher's book is just interesting to me. Of particularly interest to me is the preface by his son, Kenneth Fisher, which describes how this brilliant man struggles with his internal insecurity and why his famous 'scuttlebutt' technique works very well for his temperament. It also mentioned his later years which is plagued by Alzheimer's disease.

The book is sectioned into 3 main parts - Common stocks and uncommon profit is one, followed by Conservative investors sleep well and lastly developing an investment philosophy. I find the last two sections much more interesting and enlightening than the first part, which Phil Fisher is more famous for. His second part, conservative investors sleep well, really talks a lot about what makes a great growth stock, which I had to read many times in the future to fully distill the essence out of it. As for his 3rd part, he highlights the importance of having a philosophy in investing so that it acts as a set of principles in which to guide oneself through good times and bad in the market.

If one only have 10 minutes to spare, the Appendix section summarises the whole book in point form - short and sweet. Do yourself a favour, if you do not intend to read the entire book, at least go to bookstores to read last section Appendix. You can browse through some pages of it from this google link here.