“An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and an adequate return.” – Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor
“I believe that the greatest long-range investment profits are never obtained by investing in marginal companies.” – Philip Fischer, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
Benjamin Graham, often considered the founder of “value investing,” published the most influential book in investing, Security Analysis, in 1934. The book was, in many ways, written in response to the rampant stock market speculation that led to the great Wall Street Crash of 1929 and comprehensive in laying out the intellectual foundation of value investing, which involves buying assets that appear underpriced based on some form of fundamental analysis. Mr. Graham would go on to be the mentor to famed investor Warren Buffet, as well as publish The Intelligent Investor, a more focused version of Graham’s value investment philosophies, which became one of the greatest selling books on investing.
Philip Fisher, on the other hand, was notable for being one of the founding architects of “growth investing,” a style of investing that is less focused on buying undervalued assets and more so on those that can generate long-term capital appreciation. His landmark publication, Common Stock and Uncommon Profits, published in 1957, placed a premium on companies that were able to grow exponentially versus companies that were simply undervalued. The reasoning is simple; from Fisher in Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits:
“The reason why the growth stocks do so much better is that they seem to show gains in value in the hundreds of per cent each decade. In contrast, it is an unusual bargain that is as much as 50 per cent undervalued. The cumulative effect of this simple arithmetic should be obvious.”