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The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham: A Word Finance Book Summary

Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.

One book stands out as a timeless classic in finance and investing, providing invaluable insights and wisdom to generations of investors. “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, often referred to as the “father of value investing,” is a book that has left an indelible mark on the field of investment and remains as relevant today as when it was first published in 1949. This 1000-word book summary will explore the fundamental principles, strategies, and lessons that Benjamin Graham imparts in his seminal work.

The Intelligent Investor begins with a preface by Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors of all time and a devoted disciple of Graham’s philosophy. Buffett’s endorsement alone speaks volumes about the book’s enduring value and importance in the world of investment.

The Summary

Investment versus Speculation

Graham starts the book by making a clear distinction between investing and speculation. He asserts that an intelligent investor should focus on investing rather than speculating, as speculation carries much risk. Graham’s definition of investing involves analysing a company’s fundamentals and ensuring a margin of safety, which is achieved by buying stocks when they are priced significantly below their intrinsic value.

The Investor and Market Fluctuations

In this chapter, Graham emphasises the importance of understanding the psychological aspects of investing. He introduces the concept of Mr. Market, a fictional character representing the stock market who frequently offers stocks for sale at varying prices based on his mood. Graham advises investors to take advantage of Mr Market’s emotional swings by buying when prices are low and selling when they are high.

A Century of Stock-Market History

Graham provides a historical perspective on stock market performance over the last century, highlighting the cyclical nature of markets. Investors can gain insights into long-term trends and fluctuations by studying market history, helping them make informed decisions.

General Portfolio Policy: The Defensive Investor

Graham introduces two types of investors in this chapter: the defensive investor and the enterprising investor. The defensive investor is someone who prefers a conservative, low-risk approach to investing. Graham recommends a diversified portfolio consisting of both stocks and bonds to mitigate risk and achieve steady, long-term growth.

The Defensive Investor and Common Stocks

This chapter delves into the defensive investor’s approach to common stocks. Graham recommends focusing on large, established companies with a history of stable earnings. He also emphasises the importance of diversification and suggests a simple formula to determine the appropriate stock-to-bond ratio based on the investor’s risk tolerance.

Portfolio Policy for the Enterprising Investor: Negative Approach

According to Graham, the enterprising investor is willing to put in more time and effort to achieve higher returns. This chapter explores a negative approach to portfolio policy, where the investor eliminates unsuitable investment options. Graham advises investors to exclude companies with excessive debt, poor earnings records, or other red flags from their consideration.

Portfolio Policy for the Enterprising Investor: The Positive Side

Here, Graham outlines the positive side of portfolio policy for the enterprising investor. He suggests several strategies for selecting stocks with the potential for above-average returns. These strategies include looking for companies with a robust financial position, a history of dividend payments, and reasonable valuations.

The Investor and Market Fluctuations

In this chapter, Graham revisits the concept of market fluctuations and advises investors to maintain a disciplined and unemotional approach to investing. He also addresses the role of market forecasting and stresses the futility of trying to predict short-term market movements.

Investing in Investment Funds

Graham discusses the advantages and disadvantages of investing in investment funds, including mutual funds. He cautions investors to be aware of the fees and expenses associated with these funds and highlights the importance of choosing funds managed by experienced and trustworthy professionals.

The Investor and His Advisers

Graham offers insights on selecting and working with investment advisers. He underscores the importance of evaluating an adviser’s qualifications, ethical standards, and potential conflicts of interest. The chapter also provides guidance on compensation structures for advisers.

Security Analysis for the Lay Investor

This chapter introduces the concept of security analysis, which involves evaluating a company’s financial health and intrinsic value. Graham outlines a simplified approach for the lay investor to assess a stock’s attractiveness and suggests criteria for selecting individual stocks.

Things to Consider About Per-Share Earnings

Graham discusses the significance and limitations of per-share earnings in assessing a company’s performance. He advises investors to scrutinise the quality and sustainability of earnings and be cautious of companies manipulating their earnings figures.

A Comparison of Four Listed Companies

To illustrate security analysis principles, Graham provides a detailed comparison of four different companies, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. This practical analysis is a valuable case study for investors seeking to apply Graham’s principles.

Stock Selection for the Defensive Investor

Graham offers a step-by-step guide to stock selection for the defensive investor. He emphasises the importance of buying stocks at reasonable valuations, considering a company’s financial stability, and diversifying the portfolio.

Stock Selection for the Enterprising Investor

This chapter presents a more rigorous approach to stock selection for the enterprising investor. Graham advises investors to conduct thorough research, focus on undervalued stocks, and be prepared to take advantage of market inefficiencies.

Convertible Issues and Warrants

Graham provides insights into convertible bonds and warrants, explaining how they can enhance a portfolio’s returns while managing risk. He offers practical guidance on evaluating these investment options.

Four Extremely Instructive Case Histories

Graham concludes the book with four case histories of notable investments, including both successes and failures. These real-world examples demonstrate the practical application of the principles discussed throughout the book.

In “The Intelligent Investor,” Benjamin Graham imparts timeless wisdom that emphasises the importance of a disciplined and rational approach to investing. He underscores the value of thorough research, a margin of safety, and a long-term perspective. Graham’s influence on the world of finance is immeasurable, and his principles continue to shape the investment strategies of novice and seasoned investors.

While the financial markets have evolved significantly since the book’s initial publication, the fundamental principles of value investing, risk management, and the psychology of markets remain as relevant as ever. “The Intelligent Investor” is not merely a guide to successful investing; it is a philosophy that encourages investors to approach the market with prudence, patience, and intelligence.


“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham is a book that has withstood the test of time, offering invaluable lessons for those seeking to navigate the complex world of investing. Whether you are a defensive investor looking for stability or an enterprising investor seeking higher returns, Graham’s timeless wisdom provides a solid foundation for making informed and rational investment decisions. This book is a must-read for anyone serious about achieving financial success and security through intelligent investing.

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Featured photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.

Featured book The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham.

Dewalist Marketplace Team

Dewalist Marketplace Team

About Author

We are a passionate team of bloggers, who share our thoughts and experiences through writing. Our goal is to inspire and connect with others through our words. With a focus on business, marketing, finance, lifestyle and society. We aim to provide valuable insights and tips to our readers. Join us on this journey as we delve into the world of self-discovery and growth.

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