BENJAMIN GRAHAM

THE FATHER OF FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
Irving Kahn, C.F.A.
and
Robert D. M£lne, G.F.A.
Occasional Paper Number 5
THE
FINANCIAL
ANALYSTS
RESEARCH
FOUNDATION
Copyright © 1977
by The Financial Analysts Research Foundation
Charlottesville, Virginia
10-digit ISBN: 1-934667-05-6 13-digit ISBN: 978-1-934667-05-7
CONTENTS
Dedication
About the Authors
• VIlI
• IX
1. Biographical Sketch of Benjamin Graham, Financial Analyst 1
II. Some Reflections on Ben Graham's Personality 31
III. An Hour with Mr. Graham, March 1976 33
IV.
Benjamin Graham as a Portfolio Manager
42
V.
Quotations from Benjamin Graham
47
VI.
Selected Bibliography 49
* * * * * * *
The authors wish to thank The Institute of Chartered
Financial Analysts staff, including Mary Davis Shelton and
Ralph F. MacDonald, III, in preparing this manuscript for
publication.
v
THE FINANCIAL ANALYSTS RESEARCH FOUNDATION
AND ITS PUBLICATIONS
1. The Financial Analysts Research Foundation is an autonomous charitable
foundation, as defined by Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Foundation seeks to improve the professional performance of financial
analysts by fostering education, by stimulating the development of financial
analysis through high quality research, and by facilitating the dissemination of
such research to users and to the public. More specifically, the purposes and
obligations of the Foundation are to commission basic studies (1) with respect
to investment securities analysis, investment management, financial analysis,
securities markets and closely related areas that are not presently or
adequately covered by the available literature, (2) that are directed toward the
practical needs of the financial analyst and the portfolio manager, and (3) that
are of some enduring value. The Financial Analysts Research Foundation is
affiliated with The Financial Analysts Federation, The Institute of Chartered
Financial Analysts, and the University of Virginia through The Colgate Darden
Graduate School of Business Administration.
2. Several types of studies and publications are authorized:
A. Studies based on existing knowledge or methodology which result in a
different arrangement of the subject. Included in this category are papers
that seek to broaden the understanding within the profession of financial
analysis through reviewing, distilling, or synthesizing previously published
theoretical research, empirical findings, and specialized literature;
B. Studies that apply known techniques, methodology, and quantitative
methods to problems of financial analysis;
C. Studies that develop new approaches or new solutions to important
problems existing in financial analysis;
D. Pioneering and original research that discloses new theories, new
relationships, or new knowledge that confirms, rejects, or extends
existing theories and concepts in financial analysis. Ordinarily, such
research is intended to improve the state of the art. The research findings
may be supported by the collection or manipulation of empirical or
descriptive data from primary sources, such as original records, field
interviews, or surveys.
3. The views expressed in this book and in the other studies published by the
Foundation are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the
official position of the Foundation, its Board of Trustees, or its staff. As a
matter of policy, the :Foundation has no official position with respect to
specific practices in financial analysis.
4. The Foundation is indebted to the voluntary financial support of its
institutional and individual sponsors by which this and other publications are
made possible. As a 50I(c)(3) foundation, contributions are welcomed from
interested donors, including individuals, business organizations, institutions,
estates, foundations, and others. Inquiries may be directed to:
Research Director
The Financial Analysts Research Foundation
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 6550
Charlottesville, Virginia 22906
(804) 924-3900
VI
THE FINANCIAL ANALYSTS RESEARCH FOUNDATION
1976-1977
Board of Trustees and Officers
Jerome L. Valentine, C.F.A., President
Research Statistics, Inc.
216 Merrie Way
Houston, Texas 77024
Robert D. Milne, C.F.A., Vice President
Boyd, Watterson & Co.
1500 Union Commerce Building
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
Jack L. Treynor, Secretary
Financial Analysts Journal
219 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017
W. Scott Bauman, C.F.A., Executive Director
and Treasurer
The Financial Analysts Research Foundation
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 3668
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Frank E. Block, C.F.A.
Shields Model Roland Incorporated
44 Wall Street
New York, New York 10005
M. Harvey Earp, C.F.A.
Brittany Associates. Inc.
10168 Creekmere C{rcle
Dallas, Texas 75218
William R. Grant, C.F.A.
Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.
Incorporated
1345 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10019
C. Stewart Sheppard, Finance Chairman
The Colgate Darden Graduate School
of Business Administration
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 6550
Charlottesville. Virginia 22906
W. Scott Bauman, C.F.A., Executive Director
and Treasurer
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 3668
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
VII
William S. Gray, III, C.F.A.
Harris Trust and Savings Bank
III West Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60690
Ex Officio
Walter S. McConnell, C.F.A.
Wertheim & Co., Inc.
200 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017
Chairman, The FinanC£al Analysts
Fedemtion
Philip P. Brooks,Jr., C.F.A.
The Central Trust Company
Fourth and Vine Streets
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
President, The Institute of Chartered
Financial Analysts
C: Stewart Sheppard
University of Virginia
Post Office Box 6550
Charlottesville, Virginia 22906
Dean, The Colgate Darden Graduate
School of Business Administration
Robert F. Vandell, Research Director
The Colgate Darden Graduate School
of Business Administration
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 6550
Charlottesville, Virginia 22906
Hartman L. Butler,Jr., C.F.A.
Research Coordinator
University of Virginia, Post Office Box 3668
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
DEDICATION TO GEORGE M. HANSEN
This publication was financed in part by a grant from The
Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts made under the C. Stewart
Sheppard Award. This award was conferred on George M. Hansen,
C.F.A., in recognition of his outstanding contribution, through
dedicated effort and inspiring leadership, in advancing The Institute of
Chartered Financial Analysts as a vital force in fostering the education
of financial analysts, in establishing high ethical standards of conduct,
and in developing programs and publications to encourage the
continuing education of financial analysts.
viii
ABOUT the AUTHORS
Irving Kahn, C.P.A.
Irving Kahn was an early student and then assistant to Benjamin
Graham at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and
the New York Institute of Finance. He is a founder of the New York
Society of Security Analysts and serves as an Associate Editor of the
Financial Analysts Joumal. He is stilI active as an investment advisor at
Lehman Brothers in New York.
Robert D. Milne, C.P.A.
Robert Milne is a partner of Boyd, Watterson & Co., investment
counselors. He is a past President of The Institute of Chartered
Financial Analysts. He is Vice President of The Financial Analysts
Research Foundation, serves as a member of the Editorial Board of The
G.F.A. Digest, and is an Associate Editor of the Financial Analysts
Jom"nal. He is a past President of the Cleveland Society of Security
Analysts. Mr. Milne received his B.A. degree from Baldwin-Wallace
College and his J.D. dgeree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
of Cleveland State University. He has written a number of articles for
professional publications, and is a member of the Ohio Bar.
ix
BENJAMIN GRAHAM
THE FATHER OF FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
Benjamin Graham died on September 21, 1976 at his home in
Aix-en-Provence, France at age 82. When a pioneer in a profession dies
at an advanced age, one generally has to go back many decades to find
his last contributions. This was not the case with Ben Graham. The
cover of the then current issue of the Financial Analysts Journal (the
September/October issue had gone to press only shortly before his
death) had the portrait that adorns this publication. The lead article
ended with Ben's exhortation consistently stressed for half a century:
"True investors can exploit the recurrent excessive optimism and
excessive apprehension of the speculative public."
The profession of financial analysis was built on the pioneering
book Security Analysis, published in 1934 and in its fourth edition still
is used in the Chartered Financial Analysts Candidate Study Program.
More than 100,000 copies of "Graham & Dodd" have brought his
concepts about the merits of investment over speculation to two
generations of our profession. The financial success of Ben and his
clients dramatically demonstrated the practical value of his thorough
approach to the evaluation of investments.
Students of Security Analysis recognized that the masterpiece did
not spring into life in one outburst of genius. Rather it was the result of
much hard work and the experience of two decades before the first
edition. Over a year ago The Financial Analysts Research Foundation
became interested in the preparation of a biographical sketch of the
professional development of Benjamin Graham as a contribution to the
history of the development of financial analysis. Ben was most
enthusiastic about this project and supplied nearly 200 pages of an
unpublished draft of his memoirs written in 1956. The transcript of the
March 1976 interview by the Foundation's Research Coordinator,
Hartman L. Butler, Jr., C.F.A., helped Ben to review some of the parts
in his active life not covered in his memoirs. One of the co-authors of
this sketch, Irving Kahn, had the experience of working extensively and
teaching under Ben for over four decades.
The reader should understand that the enduring portions of this
biography are among Ben's many contributions that have both enriched
our lives and enhanced our understanding of the early development of
the profession of financial analysis.
1
HIS EARLY LIFE
Benjamin Graham was born on l\1ay 9, 1894 in London, the
youngest of three children, all boys. His father w a ~ in the family
business of importing china and bric-a-brac from Austria and Germany.
When he was just a year old, the family moved to New York to open an
American branch of the firm. Ben began the normal life of a boy in
New York, attending P.S. 10 at 117th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
His father died at only 35, leaving his widow to bring up three boys
ages 9, 10, and 1l.
Various efforts were made to continue the business but, without
an active adult, it failed in little more than a year. Nor did his mother's
two-year experiment running a boarding house prove any more
successful. When Ben was 13, his mother opened a margin account to
buy an odd lot of U. S. Steel. The panic of 1907 wiped out the smail
margin account. This was Ben's first contact with the stock market.
Despite dwindling family resources, Ben graduated near the top of
his class at Boys High School in Brooklyn. A clerical error delayed his
scholarship to Columbia for one semester. The need to help support the
family forced him to drop his daytime classes to take a full-time job
with United States Express. Yet, he continued his studies with such
great success that he graduated second in the Class of 1914.
During his final month at Columbia, three
departments-Philosophy, Mathematics, and English-each invited him
to join their faculties as an instructor. Each of the department heads
pointed out the satisfactions of an academic career, despite low starting
salaries and slow prospects for advancement. Bewildered by this wealth
of offers, Ben conferred with Columbia's Dean, Frederick Keppel, who
had a strong prediliction for sending bright graduates into business
instead of an academic life. By coincidence, a member of the New York
Stock Exchange came in to see Dean Keppel about his son's woeful
grades and, in the course of the interview, asked the Dean to
recommend one of his best students.
THE BEGINNING OF' A CAREER
Thus, Ben began his career with Newburger, Henderson & Loeb as
an assistant in the bond department at $12 per week ($68 in 1977
dollars). Although Ben never studied economics at Columbia, he was
eager to participate in the "mysterious rites and momentous events"
alluded to in novels about the world of finance. After a month as a
runner delivering securities and checks, he became the assistant to a
two-man bond department. His mam task was to prepare thumbnail
2
descriptions of each bond in their daily lists of recommendations. After
six weeks, Ben was assigned the additional task of writing the daily
market-letter for their Philadelphia office.
A few months later, World War I broke out and European
investors' heavy sales of their American securities caused the panic that
forced the New York Stock Exchange to close for several months.
When trading resumed on a limited basis, investor confidence gradually
returned and the big wartime rise began. His firm, caught shorthanded
by this increased activity, used Ben to fill many gaps, including helping
the "boardboy" put up stock quotations. Other days he operated the
telephone switchboard, helped out in the back office, and even made an
occasional delivery of securities. These routine jobs gave Ben an
understanding of all aspects of the investment world.
When the market settled down, the partners decided to send Ben
out to call on customers. This was then a pleasant occupation, because
in those days the average businessman was flattered to be called upon
by a bond salesman and even his "No" was invariably polite. Although
these calls turned out to be fruitless, Ben was learning about the limited
understanding most clients had of the securities they bought or owned.
Ben began to study railroad reports, then the major industry with
bonds outstanding. He applied himself diligently to the then standard
textbook: The Principles of Bond Investment by Lawrence
Chamberlain. One of his earliest studies was an analysis of the Missouri
Pacific Railroad. Its report for the year ended in June 1914 convinced
him that the company was in poor physical and financial condition and
that its bonds should not be held by investors. He showed the report to
a friend who was a floor broker on the Exchange. The floor broker in
turn showed the report to a partner In Bache & Co. As a result, Ben was
asked to become a "statistician"-as security analysts were then
called--at a salary of $18 per week, a 50 percent raise.
Ben assumed that Newburger, Henderson & Loeb would not
object, as he had brought in no bond commissions to offset his salary.
Samuel Newburger Instead was outraged that his employee could be so
disloyal as to consider leaving. To his surprise, this conversation ensued:
"But, I thought I wasn't earnmg my salt here."
"That's for us to decide, not you."
"But I'm not cut out for a bond salesman; I'd do better at
statistical work."
"That's fine. It's time we had a statistical department. You
can be it."
3
EARLY YEARS ON WALL STREET
Investment activity in that era was almost entirely limited to
bonds. Common stocks, with a relatively few exceptions for the major
railroads and utilities, were viewed as speculations. Nonetheless, a
growing supply of corporate information had begun to appear.
Operating and financial information was supplied by corporations,
either voluntarily to attract investors, or else to conform with stock
exchange regulations. The financial services took advantage of this
information, reprinting it in convenient form in their manuals and
current publications. In addition, the ICC and various regulatory bodies
were gathering enormous quantities of data, all of which were open for
inspection and study.
Most of this financial information, however, was neglected in
common stock analysis. The figures were considered to have limited
current interest. What really counted was "insider information"-some
of it related to a company's operations, but much relating to the plans
of stock market pools. Market manipulators were held responsible for
most of the moves, up or down, in major stocks. The improved
financial position of industrial companies-resulting from World War I
expansion-developed those factors of intrinsic value and investment
merit that were to become the dominant concepts in future market
moves. Thus, the Wall Street of the early 1920's became virgin territory
for exploitation by genuine, penetrating analysis of security values,
especially among industrial issues.
Ben's career as a distinctive professional Wall Street analyst dates
back to the 1915 plan for the dissolution of the Guggenheim
Exploration Company. This holding company had large interests in
several copper mining companies actively trading on the New York
Stock Exchange. When Guggenheim Exploration proposed to dissolve
and to distribute its various holdings to its shareholders on a pro rata
basis, Ben calculated the arbitrage values as follows:
Market Value
September 1, 1915
1 share Guggenheim Exploration
Equivalent Securities Held
.7277 share Kennecott Copper @ 52.50
.1172 share Chino Copper @ 46.00
.0833 share Amer. Smelting @ 81. 75
.185 share Ray Cons. Copper @ 22.88
Other assets
Total
4
$68.88
$38.20
5.39
6.81
4.23
21.60
$76.23
These calculations meant an assured arbitrage profit of $ 7.35 for
each share of Guggenheim Exploration purchased, provided that
simultaneous sales were made of the underlying copper companies. The
risks lay in the possibility that the shareholders might not approve the
dissolution, or that litigation might delay it. Another potential problem
might arise in maintaining a "short" position in the copper stocks until
the distribution was made to Guggenheim shareholders. Because none
of these risks appeared substantial, the firm arbitraged a large number
of shares. One of Ben's associates proposed that he manage his venture
in Guggenheim in return for a 20 percent share in the profits. When the
dissolution went through on January 17,1916, Ben's reputation and his
net worth both grew.
The years 1915-1916 saw the big bull market of World War 1. The
typical U. S. corporation, still lightly taxed, benefitted hugely from war
orders for munitions and supplies for England and France. Common
stocks rose to unprecedented heights; the brokerage community
prospered mightily; and Ben's salary did, too.
In April 1917, when the United States entered the war, Ben
applied for the Officer Candidate Training Camp, but he received a curt
rejection because he was still a British subject. Ben joined Company M
of the New York State Guard, whose most active participation was
marching to the Guard's band led by Victor Herbert!
Ben's success with the Guggenheim Exploration Co. dissolution
encouraged him to buy common stocks that appeared to be
underpriced while simultaneously selling overpriced stocks. His good
friend, Algernon Tassin, Professor of English at Columbia, agreed to
supply $10,000 of capital, with the profits or losses of the trading
account to be divided equally between the professor and Ben. The
account prospered famously during the first year with several thousand
dollars of profit for each. Ben used his share to invest $7,000 in "The
Broadway Phonograph Shop" at Broadway and 98th Street, with his
brother Leon operating the store. The store was kept going for several
years before selling out.
Beginning with a so-called "peace scare" in the Fall of 1916 and
continuing for a year after America entered the war in early 1917,
security prices suffered a persistent decline. The Tassin account was
generally in obscure issues that actually were worth more than their
market quotations. But, these stocks also dropped in the general
weakness and, even worse, bids for such obscure issues tended to
disappear. The account was called for more margin, and it was
necessary to make sales at a considerable loss. Ben was unable to repay
his share of the loss since his funds were tied up in the phonograph
shop. The unsuspecting Algernon was shocked to hear the results, but
5
sympathetically allowed Ben to make up the deficiency at $60 per
month. After two years the market strengthened sufficiently to make
up the deficiency, and in later years Ben was able to build up Professor
Tassin's fortune to a "quite respectable figure."
During the war years Ben submitted to the Magazine of Wall Street
an article entitled "Bargains in Bonds." This was a thorough study
showing the disparities among the prices of a number of quite
comparable issues. From then on, he became a frequent contributor to
the magazine. At one point he was asked to join the staff and later he
was asked to become editor with an attractive salary. Mr. Newburger
again talked Ben out of leaving the firm, this time promising him a
junior partnership. Instead, Ben's brother, Victor, became an advertising
salesman for the Magazine of Wall Street, where he had a great success,
becoming the vice president in charge of the department.
THE NEW ERA BEGINS
Between 1919 and 1929, Ben's upward progress in Wall Street was
so rapid as to verge on the spectacular. At the beginning of 1920 he was
made a partner in Newburger, Henderson & Loeb, retaining his salary
and gaining a 2Y2 percent interest in the profits, without any liability
for losses.
One of Ben's friends was with the important public utility bond
house, Bonbright & Co. He introduced Ben to a young man, Junkichi
Miki, who had tried to interest Bonbright & Co. in acting as agent for
his employer, the Fujimoto Bill Broker Bank of Osaka, active in
acquiring Japanese Government bonds. Bonbright & Co. was too busy
with its own underwritings, but Ben was able to offer Miki his firm's
comprehensive and energetic service. Various issues of Japanese
Government bonds had been placed in Europe and America in 1906
during the Russo-Japanese War. These bonds were payable, at the
option of the holder, either in a European currency or in yen. The
prosperity of Japan combined with the currency problems of Europe
following World War I meant that these bonds became very attractive
for Japanese investors.
Ben arranged for the purchase of these bonds on a large scale
through his firm's correspondents in London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
The bonds were then shipped to Japan, draft attached. The two percent
commission provided over $100,000 during the two years that
Newburger, Henderson & Loeb was the exclusive agent. The back office
was less enthusiastic, however, because a large portion of the Japanese
bonds had been sold in $100 denominations or equivalent pieces in
Paris and London. These "small pieces" were considered a nuisance in
6
Western markets, selling at a substantial discount. As the Japanese had
no prejudice against these bonds, his back office was inundated with
reams of documents. The typical purchase of $100,000 face amount
would usually result in the appearance of one thousand separate bonds.
The special safe deposit box for these bonds was known, not too
favorably, as the "Ben Graham" box.
After two years, the Fujimoto Bank set up its own New York
office, with Miki in charge, to buy these bonds. Two other Japanese
banking firms then became customers and made up for some of the lost
business.
Ben's main work was in handling an inquiries about security lists
or individual issues. He was given an assistant, Leo Stern, later a senior
partner in the firm and the father of Walter P. Stern-whose own
distinguished career has included terms as President of The Financial
Analysts Federation and of The Institute of Chartered Financial
Analysts. Periodically, they issued "circulars" analyzing one or more
securities in detail.
For example, in May of 1921 they recommended the sale of the
U. S. Victory 4%'s due in 1923 and selling at 97% and reinvestment in
the U. S. 4%'s of 1938 then selling at 87Y2. They believed that the then
high level of interest rates would subside and thus the longer term
bonds had better appreciation This circular was advertised
in the newspapers under the title "Memorandum to Holders of Victory
Bonds." The New York Stock Exchange promptly asked for a copy, as
an unwritten rule prohibited Stock Exchange Members from
recommending switches out of Government Bonds into corporate
securities. Fortunately, the circular did not recommend any unpatriotic
act-and it proved to be a profitable recommendation.
Another circular was more notable for teaching Ben a lesson. That
circular was a detailed statistical comparison of all the listed tire and
rubber stocks. The study duly noted that Ajax Tire common appeared
to be the most attractive. A few days later the president of Ajax Tire
appeared at Ben's office. Ben subsequently wished he had met him
before the circular was issued. Ajax Tire flourished only a little while
and then declined into bankruptcy. Thus, a lesson in the importance of
meeting top management was learned.
In 1919, Ben prepared a detailed comparison of the Chicago,
Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad with the S1. Louis & Southwestern
Railroad. Because his analysis portrayed the Milwaukee Railroad in a
highly unfavorable light, he felt it best to submit it to the company
before publication. An appointment was made with the Financial
Vice-President, Robert J. Marony. Marony looked over the material
rather rapidly and said: "I don't quarrel with your facts or your
7
conclusions. I wish our showing was a better one, but it isn't and that's
that." This episode led to a long-lasting business and personal
association in which Mr. Marony became a substantial investor and
director in Graham-Newman Corporation and III Government
Employees Insurance Company.
The same year Ben wrote three pamphlets "Lessons for Investors,"
giving the wisdom of this precocious 25-year old. A strong argument
was made for the purchase of sound common stocks at reasonable
prices. It also contained the novel statement that "if a common stock is
a good investment, it is also an attractive speculation."
Beginning in 1913 and throughout World War I, tax laws and tax
regulations became increasingly complicated as well as onerous. Ben
realized that it was necessary to study tax laws thoroughly to see their
effect on corporations' results. This led to an unexpected use of the tax
figures. At that time the typical corporate balance sheet contained a
large amount of "goodwill," almost always lumped together with actual
tangible investments in the "property account" as published. The
extent of "goodwill" or "water" was a jealously-guarded secret.
The Excess Profits Tax of 1917, however, allowed a credit of a
certain percentage on tangible invested capital, but only a minor
allowance for intangibles such as goodwill, patents and so forth. Ben
devised a series of formulas to work back from three items-taxes,
pretax income, and the property account-to determine how much of
the property account was in the goodwill category. These findings were
the basis for an article in The Magazine of Wall Street. Editor Powers
said: "Ben, nobody around here can make head or tail of your
formulas. It looks as if you've done the whole thing with mirrors. But,
we'll publish it anyway."
Although the published figures available could have been
misleading, Ben's computations proved remarkably correct. The
accuracy of his calculations was not publicly available for many
years-until most corporations finally started to write off the more
imaginary intangibles embedded in their balance sheets. By then,
earning power had begun to become the most significant factor
affecting a stock's price and asset values were much less important.
Ben's computations, for example, revealed that all the $508 million par
value of the U. S. Steel common stock and even a good part of its $360
million of preferred had originally been "water." Subsequently U. S.
Steel wrote down $769 million of "goodwill" and similar intangibles by
using many years of retained earnings.
Word of Ben's success with arbitrage and hedging operations
spread, and several clients opened accounts that allowed him, as sole
manager, a 25 percent share in the cumulative net profits. A standard
8
operation was the purchase of convertible bonds near par value and the
simultaneous sale of calls on an equivalent amount of common. At
times the market would be stronger for puts and then the bonds would
be bought, the stock sold short and a put also sold. As the premium
prices then received for puts and calls were substantial, this procedure
guaranteed a satisfactory profit no matter whether the stock rose, fell,
or remained constant.
The postwar bull market of 1919 was a typical bull market of the
times-marked by manipulations by insiders, plus the usual greed,
ignorance, and enthusiasm on the part of the public. Ben came through
the dangerous period of 1919-1921 quite well, remembering his
experience with the Tassin account. His accounts concentrated on
arbitrage and hedging operations. One of the speculative favorites of the
time was Consolidated Textile, a recent conglomeration of cotton mills
whose convertible seven percent bonds appeared sufficiently safe to
buy. Later, as the common rose in price, corresponding amounts of
stock were sold short, assuring a good profit. One of the firm's senior
partners, an enthusiastic bull on the stock, had purchased large
quantities of the common for his customers. Ben pointed out that the
convertible bonds had the same potential for profit as the stock, plus
less risk of loss. The partner said his customers liked an active stock
rather than a bond. Within a year, Consolidated Textile common fell
from 70 to 20, while the seven percent convertible bonds were
refinanced and redeemed at a premium above par value. This valuable
lesson has yet to be learned by amateur investors.
Ben was not completely immune to the then current nonsense. A
friend had been in a syndicate that bought privately Ertel Oil common
at $3 per share and after a few weeks began trading the stock publicly
in the over-the-counter market at $8 per share. The friend good
naturedly offered to let him in on the next deal. In April of 1919, the
next deal came along. Savold Tire was formed to exploit a patented
process for retreading automobile tires. Ben put in $2,500, and the
syndicate subscribed at 10. A few days later trading began at 24 and
then rose to 37 amid considerable excitement. The syndicate sold out
and Ben's share was nearly $7,500.
In spite of his usual common sense, greed prevailed. The parent
decided to license its process to affiliates in the various states and these
companies would sell stock to the public. Four weeks after the original
Savold Tire deal, New York Savold Tire was organized. This time some
of Ben's friends joined in a $20,000 participation in the syndicate that
subscribed to shares at 20 and saw the stock open on the Curb
Exchange at 50 and then rise to 60. This happened during the week of
Ben's 25th birthday. Promotly a check was received for the initial
9
contribution plus 150 percent in profits. No accounting came with the
check, and Ben said he wouldn't have dreamt of asking for one. A third
company, Ohio Savold, came the next month, but this was a small one
with no room for Ben's group.
Then a very large deal was concocted, Pennsylvania Savold. This
was to be the last in the series with rights to the process in the
remaining 46 states, as it had been decided that more than four Savold
companies would be cumbersome. Ben "neither understood nor
approved of this artistic restraint, but prepared to profit to the hilt
from this last gorgeous opportunity." Ben's circle of friends combined
to send in $60,000 for this venture. It is now August 1919, and the bull
market continues strong with great emphasis on stocks of the rankest
speculative flavor. The original Savold was strong, reaching a peak of
77%. In a week, however, it fell by 30 percent. The group waited for
Pennsylvania Savold to begin trading. There was a slight delay. This
continued for a few weeks until all the Savold issues collapsed
completely, disappearing forever. The friend brought Ben along to a
meeting with the Savold promoter, who was pressured into turning over
cash and shares in some other promotions that at least gave back to the
victims of the Savold Tire promotion one-third of their "investment".
Apparently nobody complained to the district attorney's office
about this swindle-nor about similar swindles. Wall Street firms
behaved ethically in the execution of their customer's orders and
in their dealings with other firms. Most of the brokerage firms,
however, condoned manipulation and did virtually nothing to protect
the public or often themselves against gross abuses similar to the Savold
Tire swindle.
Ironically, the subsequent success of retreading companies, such
as Bandag, justified the product's legitimacy.
BEN BECOMES A PORTFOLIO MANAGER
Some of Ben's friends were so impressed with his approach to
investments that in early 1923 they proposed a $250,000 account and,
if the results warranted it, this would be increased greatly. Ben could
bring in other accounts as part of the original capital. He would receive
a salary of $10,000 per year ($34,200 in 1977 dollars). Then the
investors would be entitled to a six percent return. Ben would be
entitled to a 20 percent share in profits beyond that.
Newburger, Henderson & Loeb agreed, this time, to let Ben leave.
The New York Stock Exchange had tightened its rules on the amount
of capital required by member firms. Their volume of business had been
greatly expanding and Ben's arbitrage operations required more capital
10
than they could now supply. They agreed to let Ben continue to use an
office at the firm, in return for doing his business through Newburger,
Henderson & Loeb.
Thus the new business was incorporated as Grahar Corporation
(Louis Harris being the major investor). It began operations on June 1,
1923 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 95.
Grahar Corporation operated for two and one-half years until the
end of 1925, and then dissolved with a good percentage
appreciation--the Dow Jones Industrials having risen 79 percent during
the period. Investments were limited to arbitrage operations and to the
purchase of securi ties that appeared to be greatly undervalued.
The first trades were the purchase of Du Pont common, and the
simultaneous short sale of seven times as many shares of General
Motors common. At that time Du Pont was selling for no more than the
value of its General Motors holdings. The market in effect placed no
value on DD's large chemical business and 0 ther assets. In time, this
anomaly ended with the market price of Du Pont rising to reflect the
value of the chemical business as well as its GM holding. Grahar then
took its profits by selling DD and closing out the GM short
position.
Ben prided himself on his ability to recognize overvalued stocks as
well as undervalued issues. He would sell short an overvalued stock and
buy an undervalued one. Accordingly, it was decided to sell short a few
hundred shares of Shattuck Corp., the owner of the Schrafft's
restaurant chain. Ben had his regular weekly luncheon with the major
investors at a Schrafft restaurant. After the short sale, they all felt that
it was not right to support Schrafft's with their business. Time went by,
but Shattuck common continued to go up. The group grew tired of
fighting the trend, closing out the short at a $10,000 loss.
One of the characteristics of popular issues is that such a stock
may continue to remain popular and, therefore, overvalued instead of
returning to a more normal price. The only consolation was that Ben
and his group were able to go back to eating lunch at Schrafft's.
11
By 1925 the bull market was well under way. Ben had reached the
ripe age of 31. Many of the customers' men (today called registered
representatives) ran discretionary accounts--some with profits being
evenly split, but any net loss being absorbed by the customer. They
told Ben he was foolish to settle for 20 percent of the profits and that
they could bring him accounts on a fifty-fifty basis. He proposed a new
arrangement to Lou Harris. Ben would give up his salary but, after the
six percent allowed on capital, Ben would receive 20 percent of the first
20 percent return, 30 percent of the next 30 percent, and 50 percent
on the balance. This would have worked out as follows:
Return on Investors' Graham's
Capital Share Share
6% 6%
26 22 4%
56 43 13
100 65 35
Mr. Harris rejected this proposal, and they mutually agreed to
dissolve Grahar Corporation at the year end.
On January 1, 1926, the "Benjamin Graham Joint Account"
began with capital contributed by old friends plus Ben's own funds.
The profit-sharing terms were those Ben had proposed for Grahar. The
original capital was $450,000 and grew to $2,500,000 in three years by
the" start of 1929, with much of the gain reflecting appreciation rather
than capital additions. Towards the end of 1926, Jerome Newman
joined Ben. Jerry Newman remained as an ever more active and valuable
associate for the next 30 years until Ben retired in 1956.
THE NORTHERN PIPE LINE CONTEST
One day in 1926, Ben was looking through an annual report of the
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to obtain data on a railroad. At
the end of the volume he found some statistics about pipeline
companies that had the notation: "taken from their annual reports to
the Commission." Ben wondered if the reports filed with the ICC might
have interesting details and wrote for a blank copy of the ICC report
form to see what details were asked for. The ICC sent a 50-page blank
form showing that complete details were required. Ben took the train
to Washington the next day.
Eight pipeline companies were carrying crude oil to various
refineries. Originally part of the Standard Oil Trust, they were spun off
in 1911 as part of the U. S. Supreme Court antitrust decision to split up
the trust. Each of the companies was relatively small and published a
12
one line "income account" and a very abbreviated balance sheet. Two
large Wall Street firms specialized in the markets for all the 31 former
Standard Oil subsidiaries, but they gave no data for the eight pipeline
companies except their brief annual reports.
At the ICC, Ben found that all of the pipeline companies owned
large amounts of investment-grade railroad bonds, often exceeding their
own market value. Moreover, no business reason seemed needed for
keeping these bonds. The companies had relatively small gross revenues,
but wide profit margins. The outstanding value was Northern Pipe Line,
selling at 65 and holding $95 per share of cash assets, mostly in good
railroad bonds. It earned and paid a $6 dividend to yield nine percent.
The pipeline companies had paid even larger dividends a few years
earlier before the advent of large railroad tank cars that began cutting
into their business. Investors thought that the downtrend in earnings
and dividends would continue and, despite nine percent yields, only
trouble was ahead.
By careful and persistent buying, Ben was able to buy 2,000 shares
of Northern Pipe Line's 40,000 shares, making him the largest
shareholder except for the Rockefeller Foundation's 23 percent
interest. He met the president of Northern Pipe Line at the company's
office in the Standard Oil Building. Ben pointed out how unnecessary it
was for Northern Pipe Line to carry $3,600,000 in bond investments
when its gross revenues were only $300,000. These surplus cash
resources of $90 per share should be distributed to the shareholders.
The president raised a number of specious arguments as to why this was
not possible: the railroad bonds were needed to cover the stock's $100
per share par value; they might be needed as a source of funds when the
present line would have to be replaced; and finally, they might want to
extend the line. His parting comment was one that Ben came to hear
many times. "The pipeline business is a complex and specialized
business about which you know very little; but in which we have spent
a lifetime. We know better than you what is best for the company and
the stockholders. If you don't approve of our policies, you should sell
your shares."
Old Wall Street hands would have regarded Ben's efforts to change
management's policies as either naive or suspect. l\1any years ago one
man, Clarence Venner, had made quite a lot of money (and an
unenviable reputation) by bringing suits against managements for
alleged financial misdeeds, some being only minor technical errors.
Therefore, anyone attempting to challenge management would be
characterized as a "hold-up artist."
Having failed to impress the Northern Pipe Line management with
the logic of the case for distributing the surplus cash assets to the
13
shareholders, Ben asked if he could present his argument at the annual
meeting. Accordingly, he attended the meeting in January 1927 at Oil
City, Pennsylvania. Ben had neglected, however, to bring someone to
second his motion to present the memorandum, and the meeting was
adjourned after a few perfunctory actions.
Ben began preparing for next year's meeting by buying more
shares of Northern Pipe Line with the partnership's increased capital. A
lawyer of great ability and prominence was retained. Pennsylvania
corporations had mandatory cumulative voting so that it would be
necessary to have the votes of one-sixth of the shares in order to elect
one director to the five-person board. Ben decided to solicit proxies in
favor of a resolution to reduce the capitalization and to pay the surplus
cash to shareholders. He also sought to elect two members to the board.
Surprisingly, Northern Pipe Line thought so little of his chances
that the shareholders' list was furnished without a lawsuit. Each side
sent out letters requesting proxies, with the arguments for both sides
being the same as at Ben's first meeting with the president. Because
proxy solicitation firms did not exist, management utilized its
employees. Ben and his associates visited the larger shareholders. He
was even able to arrange an interview with the financial advisor to the
Rockefeller Foundation, which owned 23 percent of the stock. He
listened courteously, but said the Foundation never interfered in the
operations of any of the companies in which it held investments.
At the 1928 annual meeting, Ben came supplied with proxies for
38 percent of the shares, guaranteeing the election of two directors.
The president suggested that a single slate of directors be named,
including any two from the rebels, except Ben. As this was
unacceptable, the single slate included Ben and one of the lawyers.
Thus, Ben became the first person not directly affiliated with the
Standard Oil system to be elected a director of one of the affiliates.
A few weeks after the meeting, the president invited Ben to his
office and told him: "We really were never opposed to your idea of
returning capital to the stockholders; we merely felt the time wasn't
appropriate." He agreed to distribute $70 per share. It was later learned
that when the Rockefeller Foundation returned their proxy to
management, they indicated that they would favor a distribution of as
much capital as the business could spare. Subsequently, the other
pipeline companies made similar distributions of surplus capital to
shareholders, no doubt since the Rockefeller Foundation had a number
of uses for the surplus funds. The $70 distribution plus the value of
Northern Pipe Line afterwards exceeded $100 per share, compared with
the initial market price of 65 when Ben began his campaign.
14
MEETING THE BARUCHS
As the Benjamin Graham Joint Account continued to prosper in
other operations, it was necessary to move from the small office at
Newburger, Henderson & Loeb into its own offices. These were in the
same building with the main office of H. Hentz & Co., one of whose
senior partners was· Dr. Herman Baruch. All three of Bernard Baruch's
brothers made the not surprising choice of becoming Wall Street
brokers. At this time Ben began buying shares in another former
Standard Oil subsidiary, National Transit Company. National Transit
operated a pipeline and also manufactured pumps. To counter Ben's
proposal to distribute their surplus cash, management came up with a
plan to use it in a rather unproductive manner. Herman Baruch and his
clients joined in the purchase of National Transit shares and, after some
prodding from the Rockefeller Foundation, a substantial distribution of
cash was made to shareholders. In gratitude Dr. Baruch gave Ben the
use of his fully manned yacht for a week--with Ben inviting some of his
friends for a luxurious week.
Ben's special interests became well known on Wall Street. One day
a trader from a large over-the-counter firm came to Ben with an
elaborate proposition to buy a large block of Unexcelled Manufacturing
Company, the nation's leading fireworks company. The price of 9 was
less than working capital and only 6 times earnings. The purchase of
this block would also enable a change in control, with the old president
being replaced by a capable vice president and Ben joining the company
as a part-time Financial Vice President. The partnership took 10,000
shares and sought to place the balance in "good hands." Bernard
Baruch had become increasingly interested in Ben's type of operations
and agreed to buy the balance of the block of Unexcelled. At the
annual meeting he saw for the first time the president of Unexcelled,
who had founded the company and run it for 25 years, and Ben felt
uneasy at being part of a conspiracy to end the career of a man who
had never done him any harm. The change in control took place as
scheduled, yet shifting demand and legal restrictions on the use of
fireworks kept this investment from being a success.
Ben recommended a number of other issues to Bernard M. Baruch,
which appealed to his keen sense of security values. During the hull
market of the late 1920's, emphasis was focused on certain popular
issues. Lesser-known stocks in promising industries, such as electric
utilities and chemicals, became as popular as the giant companies. Also,
many smaner companies with short but exceptional growth records
received the attention of speculators and manipulators. Other
15
substantial companies, however, fell outside these favored categories
and sold at bargain-counter prices, even below their minimum values as
judged by ordinary standards. Among these were Plymouth Cordage,
Pepperell Manufacturing Co., and Heywood & Wakefield, the leader in
the baby carriage industry, each selling below working capital. Bernard
Baruch bought substantial amounts of these issues, confirming the
soundness of Ben's analyses. Baruch egotistically believed that his
concurrence was a sufficient reward for Ben's efforts.
Both agreed that the market had advanced to inordinate heights
and, with such frenzied speculation, it would ultimately end in a major
crash. Baruch commented that it was ridiculous for short-term interest
rates to be eight percent while the Dow Jones Industrials provided only
a two percent yield. Ben replied: "By the law of compensation,
someday the reverse should happen." Some years later after the crash
when the law of compensation took effect, Ben realized that it was
strange that, despite his accurate projection, he did not realize that all
operations involving borrowing, including his own, would be affected
by the ultimate collapse.
One day in 1929, Baruch invited Ben to his office. For the first
time in his life he wanted a partner. "I'm now 57 and it's time to slow
up a bit and let a younger man like you share my burdens and my
profits." Although this was most gratifying to one's ego, Ben had just
completed a year in which his personal net profit was over $600,000
and thus saw no reason to be a junior partner even to the eminent
Bernard M. Baruch.
THE DELUGE
The Benjamin Graham J oint Account began with $450,000 at the
start of 1926 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 157. In 1926,
the Dow had only a nominal gain, but 1927 provided an encouraging 32
percent return. The Benjamin Graham Joint Account ended that year at
$1,500,000, with new capital coming into the account, as well as
capital gains.
The year 1928 was the last full year of the bull market, with a 51
percent return for the Dow Jones Industrials and a 60 percent return
for the Joint Account, after Ben's share that exceeded $600,000.
This excellent record led to an even more exciting proposal, one to
manage a large new investment trust. Many major investment trusts
were formed in the 1920's. The first were fixed trusts with a specified
and fixed portfolio of common stocks, with the shareholder holding a
pro rata share in this unchanging list. Actually, this was really not
greatly different from the index funds of today.
16
Next, investment trusts were formed that could be managed,
patterned after the investment trusts that had long operated
successfully in England. The speculative atmosphere of the late 1920's
led many investment banking firms to launch their own investment
trusts-to obtain management fees, as well as commissions on the sale
of shares in the trust plus commissions on the trust's business.
The H. Hentz partners thought they should have an investment
trust and that Ben Graham should run it. They were planning a $25
million fund, which would supply adequate compensation for all
concerned. The details of organizing the trust delayed the initial sale for
some months and when September came, the 1929 stock market crash
ended any possibility for establishing the Hentz-Graham Fund.
Ben had enough to do to keep up with the Joint Account. At
mid-1929, the capital was $2.5 million, about where it was at the start
of the year. The Account had a large number of arbitrage and hedging
operations involving long positions of $2.5 million and an equal amount
of short positions. In addition, $4.5 million of other securities were
held on which $2 million was borrowed, leaving $2.5 million of equity.
These securities were not Wall Street favorites, but rather issues that
had intrinsic values above their market prices.
The hedge operations generally involved the purchase of a
convertible preferred and a short sale of the equivalent amount of
common. In weak markets the common would decline faster than the
preferred stock and they would undo the hedge at a good profit.
However, they found that oftentimes the market would recover and
they would reinstate the position by buying the convertible preferred
once again and selling more common. This would usually involve the
purchase of the preferred at a higher price than the price at which it
was sold earlier. Thus they came to adopt a policy of only partially
undoing the hedging operation when the stocks declined, closing out
the short positions in the common, but holding on to the preferred. In
addition, they began to go in for partial hedges, selling short only half
as much common as would be required for a complete hedge. These
adaptations of the basic hedging operation increased profits during a
hull market, hut also created risks that were not present in fully hedged
positions.
As the market collapsed in the final months of 1929, Ben covered
a large part of the short position, recording large profits. In most cases,
however, Ben did not sell the related convertible preferreds since their
prices seemed too low. The Joint Account ended the year with a loss of
20 percent, as compared with a 15 percent decline for the Dow Jones
Industrials. Many of the participants in the fund had their own margin
17
accounts that had experienced much greater losses. Near the close of
the year, some recovery developed and most investors believed the
worst was over.
In early 1930, the market continued its recovery, but soon the
economic picture clouded over. Ben went down to Florida in January.
He met a 93 year old man, John Dix, a successful retired businessman.
Mr. Dix asked a great number of penetrating questions, displaying a
keen mind, and then said with great earnestness:
Mr. Graham, I want you to do something of the greatest
importance. Get on the train to New York tomorrow. Sell
out your securities. Payoff your debts and return the capital
to the partners in the Joint Account. I wouldn't be able to
sleep at night if I were in your position.
Ben thanked the old gentleman and said he would consider his
advice. Actually, he then thought the advice was preposterous, as Mr.
Dix was probably not far from his dotage and could not possibly have
really understood Ben's methods. It turned out, of course, that Mr. Dix
was absolutely right and Ben should have been content to keep his
position as a "near-millionaire."
The market recovery continued through April but then the market
headed down again. Thus, 1930 was to prove to be the most disastrous
year in all of Ben's active career. He had already covered nearly all of
the short positions, leaving a large long position in securities whose
declining market values were accentuated by the substantial margin
debt of the Joint Account. The record of the account during the crash
was as follows:
Benjamin Graham Dow Jones
Ioint Account
Industrials S&P 500
1929 -20% -15% - 7%
1930 -50 -29 -25
1931 -16 -48 -44
1932 - 3 -17 - 8
For entire period -70% -74% -64%
From 1930 on, Ben's main effort was to reduce the margin debt
without sacrificing too much of the values inherent in the portfolio. All
through this period, quarterly distributions of 1~ 4 percent of capital
were made. A number of the participants withdrew all or part of their
capital at various year-ends. The only one to make a new investment in
the fund during these difficult years was Jerry Newman's father-in-law.
18
Since this was near the low point, his show of confidence enabled him
to reap a large reward when the recovery began. Considering the fact
that the Benjamin Graham Joint Account began this period with
approximately 44 percent margin debt, performance equal to the
Standard & Poor's would have wiped out the account sometime in
1930. Thus, keeping the fund alive was a great achievement. The small
losses of 1931 and 1932 were especially impressive.
A TEACHING CAREER BEGINS
In 1925, after eleven years on Wall Street, Ben decided to write a
book to impart his knowledge of the investment world. However, he
thought it would first be best to organize his material and to see how it
could be used most effectively. He had the inspiration to start teaching
if he could. Most Wall Streeters who were interested in teaching became
associated with New York University's Graduate School of Finance,
because of the convenient location. Ben, however, applied at his alma
mater, Columbia, and in 1928 began a 28-year career as a lecturer in
the evening division of the School of Business Administration.
Ben taught a two-hour course one evening a week on current
investments using rigorous security analysis. Most of his students
worked on Wall Street and attended because Ben's teaching worked in
actual practice. A number of finance majors attended, as well as
faculty members such as David L. Dodd, who enrolled in Ben's first
class in order to gain practical insights. As stock market volume and
prices rose, news of the practical value of the class spread and
enrollment grew rapidly. By 1929, the class reached its peak attendance
of over 150 students, a fairly important fraction of the working
statisticians or analysts then on Wall Street.
Some of the students returned year after year in order to ask
questions about important topics of the day. Ben enjoyed being
challenged by a wide range of questions, which he used to present to
the class the general principles of finance and security analysis. He
presented actual case studies only to develop proven theorems.
Typically, both popular and unpopular securi ties were used as
illustrations, fully documented with relevant data.
For example, in one 1929 class a student, bullish on American and
Foreign Power Co. warrants, was directed to the blackboard to
compute the total market value for the outstanding warrants. When this
calculation indicated that the market value for the warrants exceeded
the market value for the entire Pennsylvania Railroad, the degree of
speculative distortion was brought home to the entire class. At that
time the Pennsylvania Railroad common was an investment quality
19
stock, while American and Foreign Power was a holding company
newly formed to pyramid a leveraged public utility empire.
Around 1931, Irving Kahn became Ben's assistant, preparing
statistical analyses for use in classroom discussions as well as guiding
and marking studies and exams. Often, when a question was asked, Ben
chose to withhold his own reply. He knew the superior results that
would come from study and participation on the part of the student.
Thus, a question on the merits of land trust certificates might result in a
team of four or five students being assigned to prepare an evaluation
report. Irving would organize the team to prepare a plan for a thorough
review of the topic and would coordinate preparation of the written
report. Then Ben would bring it before the entire class, adding his
penetrating questions and comments with everyone free to attack or
defend the methods and conclusions.
Ben understood the merits of the Socratic method, using it to
re-examine his own conclusions as harshly as those of the students. He
believed that a teacher should stimulate and guide the student with
questions, so that the student not only was exposed to the answer but
remembered how the answer was reached. Even in as mundane a topic
as definitions, Ben never believed in supplying a ready answer. One day
Irving asked: "This ad shows a $10 million tranche of a French
Government issue being offered. What does tranche mean?" Ben
pointed to the dictionary, which defined "tranche" as a slice, such as a
slice of cake. Ben said: "If I told you the answer, you might have soon
forgotten it." Some 45 years later, the senior author of this sketch still
remembers that a tranche is a portion of an underwriting.
The depression years thinned the ranks of bankers, brokers, and
analysts. Shrewd Wall Streeters, however, realized that the disoriented
markets of those times were creating many buying opportunities. Over
the years thousands came to Ben's class and to hear him analyze
undervalued securities. Many wanted his keen mind to review issues
they believed worthy of consideration. Ben so enjoyed teaching that
often he would remain after class for half an hour or longer responding
to questions from his fascinated students.
These classes in security analysis were held continuously until
Ben's retirement from Wall Street in 1956. So many successful people
from the world of finance were attracted to this class that Columbia's
Business School grew in stature as the achievements of the faculty
became better known in the financial community.
Simultaneously Ben found time to teach for a decade at the New
York Stock Exchange's School, now known as the New York Institute
of Finance. His lectures on security analysis were adapted into a
correspondence course by Walter Morris, Steve Jaquith, and Irving
20
Kahn. This material remains as the heart of the course still being
offered by the New York Institute of Finance. No other single course
reached or held so large a student body as this one.
During 1931-1933, Ben also presented a series of lectures at the
New School for Social Research. He became a friend of the New
School's President, Alvin Johnson, participating in an informal group
meeting weekly to discuss possible solutions to the economic crisis.
Among the members of the group were William McChesney Martin,
A. A. Berle, and a great many other distinguished and thoughtful leaders.
These efforts led to Ben's development of an important economic
theory, described later in this narrative.
SECURITY ANALYSIS
By 1932, Ben had adjusted the Joint Account to a secure position
and began searching for lessons from the stock market crash. In June
1932, he wrote a series of three articles for Forbes magazine under the
title "Is American Business Worth More Dead Than Alive?" Over 40
percent of the stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange were
selling at less than their net working capital and many were selling
below even their cash assets. Ben concluded that the stock market was
placing an inordinately low value on American business.
It was time to set to work on the writing of the textbook that he
had first projected six years earlier. Professor Dodd agreed to
collaborate on the book. Ben would be the senior author and write the
entire text in his style. Professor Dodd would make suggestions, check
the numerous facts and references, and work up tables. The authors
prepared a Table of Contents and a sample chapter. McGraw-Hill
retained a Harvard professor of finance to review this proposal and were
so impressed with his recommendation that they offered a straight 15
percent royalty, rather than the standard contract that started at 10
percent. The contract was signed near the close of 1932. The authors
began work and, with Irving as a research assistant, much of the
comparative analysis done by students at Columbia was incorporated
into the book.
In 1934, a year and a half later, the first edition of Security
Analysis was printed. It would be hard to overestimate the significance
of this text that has sold over 100,000 copies to date (the
Graham/Dodd/Cottle fourth edition was printed in 1962). It has
become the basic text for the teaching and practice of two generations
of security analysts. Despite the economic, financial, and political chaos
at home and abroad, and the overwhelming disillusionment at that time
with American enterprise and the investment community, Security
21
Analysis presented a well-reasoned and well-organized case for the great
investment opportunities then open to those competent to learn its
teachings.
Typical of Ben's wide erudition and sense of the timeless qualities
of great philosophy is its opening quotation from Horace: "Many shall
be restored that now are fallen and many shall fall that are now in
favor." It is beyond the scope 0 l' this biographical sketch to examine all
the original and radical concepts outlined in this pioneering book, most
of which have become so well accepted that it is difficult to imagine why
they once were not obvious to the entire investment community.
EARNING A LIVING
The halcyon days of 1928, when Ben's share of the Joint
Account's profits exceeded $600,000, were long past. Because their
unique profit sharing arrangement was a cumulative one, Ben and Jerry
Newman went five years without any payment for their work. Because
of the drastic price decline, the fund's capital would have to triple
before they would be eligible to start sharing again. One partner
suggested a revision be made and, following discussion with some of the
larger investors, the terms were revised, reducing the share of Ben and
Jerry to a straight 20 percent of profits earned after January 1, 1934.
By the end of 1935, all past losses had been made good.
In that year, because the Internal Revenue Service questioned
whether the Joint Account really qualified as a partnership or whether
it was a quasi-corporation, Graham-Newman Corporation was formed
to succeed the partnership as 0 f January 1, 1936.
During these difficult years, Ben spent a considerable amount of
time as an expert witness, preparing studies and testifying on
complicated cases requiring professional valuation. The U. S. Treasury
Department had asked the School of Business at Columbia to
recommend an expert. The case involved the valuation for the Federal
estate tax of the controlling block of stock in Whitney Manufacturing
Co., a maker of chains. The executors claimed that the stock market
quotation at the date of the owner's death in 1932 was the proper basis
for determining the value. Ben testified that the shares should be valued
as a private business, because they represented the controlling interest.
He estimated that the minimum liquidating value of the business was its
net working capital, with no allowance for plant or equipment. This
figure was substantially in excess of the stock market quotation. The
Tax Court agreed with Ben.
Because of his obvious abilities in valuation cases, Ben served as an
expert witness in some 40 cases. Professor James Bonbright of
22
Columbia had written the standard text on property valuation and
often asked that Ben serve as a companion witness in complicated cases
where Ben's practical experience confirmed the professor's theory.
The standard compensation was $100 per day for preparation ($460 in
1977 dollars) and $250 for each day in court. Ben regarded these rates
as generous. Many of the cases involved the valuation of railroad
property for property taxes or reorganizations and were most complex,
requiring days of preparation. Since the dollar amounts at stake were
large, Ben was often subjected to several days of extensive
cross-examination by the opposition as they tried to expose any errors
or uncertainties in his presentation. Ben's thorough preparation gave
him the sound basis for confident rebuttal of these courtroom
attempts.
BEN BECOMES AN ECONOMIC THEORETICIAN
Everyone in the investment community is forced to pay attention
to broad economic developments. During the depression of 1921-1922,
Ben thought a great deal about the origins of business cycles and
possible ways of ameliorating them. He came to the conclusion that the
chief cause was the lack of sufficient purchasing power to absorb the
increased production that had resulted from the previous boom. Then
Ben came across J. A. Hobson's classic The Economics of
Unemployment, which had set forth this thesis some years earlier.
(Hobson's book was an important precursor of John Maynard Keynes.)
Prices, after a sharp rise during World War I and in that postwar
boom, fell precipitously in 1921-1922. Many plans were advanced for
stabilizing the general level of prices. The best known was Irving
Fisher's proposal for a compensated dollar. The gold content of the
dollar would be changed under this plan to compensate for changes in
purchasing power. Ben decided that a preferable approach would be to
give monetary status to a designated "market basket" of some 21
worldwide basic raw materials. Producers of these commodities could
sell them as a package to the Treasury Department in much the same
manner as gold, then exchangeable for the dollar at a fixed rate or gold
point.
Ben did nothing to promote his plan. Some months later, Thomas
A. Edison devised a somewhat similar plan based upon farm
commodities that would be sold to the Treasury at a fixed price. The
economic recovery of the mid-1920's then got under way, with a great
expansion in business volume, and accompanied by unusual stability in
prices. Ben was busy with his investment activities.
23
During the deep depression years of 1931 and 1932, Ben restudied
his commodity-reserve plan. As mentioned, President Alvin Johnson of
the New School had formed a small group who met weekly to consider
ways to improve "the sorry scheme of things," a phrase from the
Ruba£yat they chose to describe the situation. Ben circulated a
mimeographed memorandum to the group advocating four plans:
1. The Commodity-Reserve Plan.
2. Slum clearance and subsidized low-cost housing.
3. Low interest rate loans from the Federal Government to the
unemployed.
4. Provision for France to meet its World War I debts with 40
million bottles of wine per year-providing one bottle for
each American voter.
These were certainly innovative and radical plans for the laissez-faire
philosophy of those years. Ben was disappointed that his fourth plan
did not receive much consideration, as he believed that it would have
added elements of both reality and gaiety into the rather metaphysical
financial relations of the two countries.
Two of the young men in the group, Joseph Mead and William
McChesney Martin, launched a quarterly journal, The Econom£c
Forum. Ben in a 1933 issue of the journal expanded upon his
Commodity-Reserve Plan in an article "Stabilized Reflation." While this
concept had not been presented in the United States before then, it had
been independently arrived at by a Professor of Economics at the
University of Rotterdam, Jan Goudriaan, in a 1932 pamphlet "How to
Stop Deflation." This pamphlet was little known and Ben did not hear
of it for several years. In time, Ben became friends with Professor
Goudriaan.
Ben gave a copy of his plan to a friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The friend sent word that it was receiving serious consideration in
Washington. Nothing happened for two years. Then Louis Bean,
economic adviser to Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, visited
Ben. The Commodity Credit Corporation had been formed to support
farm prices and had acquired large quantities of farm products. Bean
thought that Ben's plan might be used as a method of financing the
food surpluses, with the added benefit of stimulating prices, in general,
by increasing the quantity of money in circulation.
Ben continued to work on the plan, compiling a sizable statistical
base to lend credence to its practicality. Finally he was satisfied,
24
publishing in 1937 the book Storage and Stability. McGraw-Hill had
justifiable doubts about the commercial success of the book but, in
any case, were glad to accommodate the senior author of Security
Analysz:5. Bernard Baruch discussed the plan most enthusiastically, and
Ben provided him with a set of galley proofs so that Baruch could speed
these to President Roosevelt.
The plan received considerable attention from economists. Ben
exchanged a number of letters with John Maynard Keynes on this and
other economic topics. Keynes agreed with the main goals of Ben's
plan. The plan's chief merit was in providing a link between the real
world in which major commodities are used and the world of money
creation. It also avoided the problem of trying to stabilize the price of a
single commodity, because each commodity could fluctuate in price,
becoming a larger or smaller component of the "market basket"
reflecting supply and demand changes. While the plan has not been
adopted, it remains as one of the basic concepts in this area of
economic theory, referred to from time to time by eminent economists.
In preparation for World War II, the Federal Government started
building stockpiles of strategic materials, a policy still maintained.
Ben continued his studies in economics and in 1944 published
World Commodities and World Currency, a volume detailing many of
the problems with world currencies. If this plan for linking
commodities and currencies had been adopted, it might have helped to
avoid the extremes of price inflation in the mid-1970's.
BROADWAY
Ben's love of reading the world's classics--often in their original
language-led him to write a play. In the same year (1934) that the first
edition of Security Analysis was published, his play "Baby Pompadour"
appeared on Broadway. The critic for the New York Times had the
following comments to make:
If one of Mr. Graham's students at Columbia University
were to turn in an essay on security analysis as trite and
diffused in its substance as this little play of his about a
nationally famous journalist whose editorial policies are
influenced by a moronic chorus-girl mistress, then the
student would undoubtedly receive a D minus--and for very
good reason, too.
As a well-known figure in the financial world, Mr.
Graham should know that neither businessmen with millions
of dollars invested In Nicaraguan bananas nor
25
Under-Secretaries of State act and talk like a cartoonist's
caricature-not even when they're serious. Alas, the only
humor in his comedy comes during those pathetic moments
when the unfortunate actors--who are here spared the
humiliation of identification-find themselves with nothing
more to do than laugh at their own pitiful jokes.
Mr. Graham had better stick to one thing or the
other-or find himself a new hobby.
The play ran for only four performances and its second try, under the
title "True to the Marines," was not successful.
BUILDING A PROFESSION
Over the 50-year period from the start of his teaching career at
Columbia and continuing up until his death, Ben devoted most of his
waking hours to the education of the "new generation of security
analysts" to whom his text was dedicated. Finance students throughout
the nation had to absorb the Benjamin Graham approach during their
university years and, after entering the investment world, they reread
the "Bible" of Graham & Dodd to renew their analytical fundamentals
during periods of adversity. Its cases and conclusions restored thcir
sense of proportion when the market went into speculative excesses.
Ben was a prolific writer. He wrote the popular The Interpretation
of Financial Statements in 1937, the same year that Storage and
Stability appeared. The Interpretation text was written with Charles
McGolrick and was aimed at helping the businessman interpret financial
statements. It also proved useful to security analysts and others
working in the investment world. Security A nalysis continued to do
well, and in 1940 the second edition was published, with extensive
revisions and the addition of new current case studies. New materials
further increased its usefulness.
Ben was encouraged by the growing number of analysts who made
thorough and objective studies of companies and industries. He
contributed profusely to The Analysts Journal (Financial Analysts
Journal beginning in 1960). His writing appeared in the first few issues
in 1946 under the pseudonym of "Cogitator" and thereafter at
frequent intervals under his own name. Helen Slade was the guiding
spirit behind the Journal. Her brilliant mind encouraged a number of
contributions from Ben. Also, both shared a weakness for cats. Helen
had a particular favorite, Alexander, in whose name she purchased
several stocks. After the cat's demise, she established an award for the
26
year's best article in the Journal and titled it the "Alexander Award."
In later years after Helen Slade's death, the title of the award was
changed to the "Graham & Dodd Award." Ben never did make his mind
up as to whether or not it was an honor to ascend to Alexander's place.
The Financial Analysts Federation held its first annual conference
in 1947. Ben addressed the conference on the need for greater
professionalism. He pointed out the necessity of an organized study
program, probably culminating in an examination to qualify candidates
for a professional designation such as was the case in other professions.
He addressed a number of F.A.F. conferences in the years following,
often refining his presentation in the Financial Analysts Journal.
Recognizing the need to bring his approach to the attention of the
astute layman, Ben in 1949 wrote The Intelligent Investor. Then he
worked on the Third Edition of Security Analysis, which came out in
1951. Again the text was brought up-to-date with new and original
material covering situations confronting investors at that time.
The stock market was in a general uptrend from 1942 until Ben
retired in 1956, except for a basic reaction in 1946 and downward drift
to 1949. Ben kept uncovering undervalued special situations. The two
lists of special situations in the 1940 edition of Security Analysis
advanced an average of 252 percent in the following eight years, as
compared with a 33 percent advance for the Standard & Poor's
Industrials.
THE GEICO STORY
In 1948, a Washington lawyer and a bond salesman from
Baltimore called at the Graham-Newman Corporation office with a
special situation for sale. After negotiations, the fund bought a
half-interest in the company offered for sale, Government Employees
Insurance Company. The cost was $720,000, or nearly one-quarter of
the Graham-Newman assets. It was necessary to spin off 1.08 shares of
GEICO for each share of Graham-Newman Corp. because, under the
Investment Company Act, it was not permissible to own more than 10
percent of an insurance company. The market value at that time (July
2, 1948) was $27 for the 1.08 shares. This eventually grew to $16,349
at the peak in 1972 and still stood at $2,407 at the close of
1976--nearly 90 times the starting point.
GEICO had been founded in 1936 in Texas by Leo Goodwin, who
had a 25 percent interest, with the balance owned by a Fort Worth
banker who was the anxious seller to the Graham-Newman
Corporation. The basic concept was that automobile insurance could be
27
sold by direct mail to the consumer at a reduced rate, as no
commissions had to be paid to insurance agents. The policies were
available only to government employees, a group that fortunately
averaged fewer claims than most. The company had exceptional growth
during its first dozen years and this continued after the
Graham-Newman purchase. In 1958, it was decided to offer insurance
to professional, managerial, technical and administrative workers, as
well as government employees. This broadened the market from 15
percent of car owners to 50 percent. Again, these new policyholders
also turned out to be preferred risks.
In the following years, growth and profitability continued at an
exceptional pace until GEICO became the nation's fifth largest
automobile insurer. However, the days of 15 percent underwriting
profit margins were over; GEICO was now so large that insurance
commissioners would grant rates aimed at producing only a five percent
underwriting margin, the same rates granted to other large insurance
companies. Starting in 1974 costs rose as inflation accelerated. Adding
in the problems of no-fault insurance and low rates, losses skyrocketed
and GEICO's net worth dropped from $144 million at the start of 1975
to $37 million at the end of the year.
A great many changes have been made and it is expected that
1977 will see GEICO return to profitability. GEICO continues to have
one of the lowest cost distribution systems in the industry, with
expense ratios at 14 percent as compared with the industry's 28 percent
ratio. The long-term future of the company still has to be determined,
but for Graham-Newman investors it has been most profitable with very
substantial dividends over the years plus interests in three GEICO
affiliates (Government Employees Life Insurance Company,
Government Employees Financial Corp., and Criterion Insurance). Ben
summed up the fact that the decision to buy the half-interest in GEICO
brought in vastly more profits than all of his other investments
combined as follows: "An obvious (moral) is that there are several
different ways to make and keep money in Wall Street."
FAREWELL TO NEW YORK
Ben's personality required a stream of new challenges. The
Graham-Newman Corporation continued to prosper, essentially
repeating the same processes for selecting undervalued securities. The
fabulous success of the Government Employees Insurance Co.
investment also blunted much of his never very great desire for financial
success. None of Ben's five children were interested in entering the
investment world and Jerry Newman's son, Howard Newman, had
28
become the chief executive officer of Philadelphia and Reading
Company, preferring a life in active corporate management. Thus, in
1956, they decided to liquidate the Graham-Newman Corporation.
Ben never regretted his move to California in 1956. At age 62, he
began a new association as an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the
University of California at Los Angeles. Professor John Shelton tells the
story about his first meeting with Ben. He had a rather jaundiced view
of the intellectual capacities of most Wall Streeters and assumed that
Ben was a typical example but felt an obligation to take Ben to lunch.
At the UCLA Faculty Club, while moving to their table, Professor
Shelton introduced one of his colleagues, mentioning that he was
writing a book on one of the modem Spanish poets. Ben burst out
enthusiastically: "He's one of my favorites," and then proceeded to
recite in Spanish one of the poet's works. Professor Shelton decided on
the spot that there must be more to security analysis than he thought.
Nearly a decade was spent in Los Angeles and at UCLA before the
final move to apartments in La Jolla, California for half the year and
Aix-en-Provence for the balance. As Ben phrased it, each of the
apartments had a "glimpse of the sea" rather than a full view.
He continued to devote a part of his time to the investment world.
When asked in 1974 to be the main speaker at a C.F.A. Seminar entitled
The Renaissance of Value, Ben accepted enthusiastically. The Seminar
was scheduled to meet at his convenience on his fall trip from
California by way of New York to Europe, visiting children and friends
along the way. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen to near the
600 level in September 1974. Ben's message was to select some of the
many issues then available at prices dearly low by all reasonable
valuation standards. "I-low long will such 'fire-sale stocks' continue to
be given away?"
The conduding question at the session was: "Mr. Graham, are you
amused or disappointed that it takes a real bear market for analysts to
be interested in your value approach towards investment?". Ben
immediately replied: "Walpole said that the thinking man looks at the
world and sees a comedy; the feeling man looks at the world and sees a
tragedy."
The following year saw the highest award of the profession, the
Molodovsky Award, presented to Ben at the Annual Conference of The
Financial Analysts Federation. The cash grant that went with the award
was devoted to a research project that Ben was interested in and which
he hoped might eventually develop into a project for publication by
The Financial Analysts Research Foundation. This research was aimed
at developing rough filters or screens for narrowing down the universe
of common stocks to a representative group of likely candidates for
29
purchase. Ben began to test this new approach in a modest way with
some California friends. While death brought this phase of his research
to an end, it nonetheless did show his continued devotion to research
as displayed so well in Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor.
Irving Kahn arranged a memorial service for Benjamin Graham at
the Chapel of Columbia University. A hundred old and dose friends of
Ben attended-his partner Jerome Newman, Columbia's President,
William McGill, David Dodd, Professor James Bonbright, Ben's
colleagues for half a century, and many from the investment and
academic communities. Friends from other areas of his life also
attended. A group of ten blacks from the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of
Bridgeport, Connecticut gave homage to the stranger who made it
possible for them to worship in their own church.
Ben's life has affected many. All financial analysts owe so much to
the pioneering efforts and works of the Dean
of our profession.
30
SOME REFLECTIONS ON BEN GRAHAM'S PERSONALITY
By Irving Kahn
Most people knew Ben through his writings. Those who were his
students or worked with him got to know the man as well as the legend.
Physically, Ben was quite short, but his massive head and penetrating
blue eyes made people forget his diminutive stature.
He had several outstanding characteristics. His speed of thought
was so great that most people were puzzled at how he could resolve a
complicated question directly after having heard it. His mental training
came from his rigorous study of mathematics, particularly geometry,
which required close and exact reasoning before accepting or rejecting
either a premise or a conclusion.
He had another extraordinary characteristic in the breadth and
depth of his memory. This explains why he could read Greek, Latin,
Spanish and German. Even more remarkable, without having studied
Spanish formally, he was able to translate a Spanish novel into literary
English so professionally that it was accepted by an American
publisher.
In his early years, Ben was both a skier and a tennis player. But his
real pleasure was to exercise his mind over a wide range of subjects far
beyond his specialties in the world of finance. He loved music,
especially the major operas for the wisdom of their lyrics, as well as
their melodies. He had a private, but serious hobby of making
improvements in the field of plane geometry. He actuaHy patented
several versions of a simplified protractor and a circular slide rule.
With so many interests, it is understandable that, while Ben was a
devoted father, he was really more married to his business and cultural
interests than the normal husband. Despite these many and varied
interests, he had time to give to worthy charities. He became the
president of the Jewish Guild for the Blind, attracting many devoted
benefactors to their good works.
He helped numerous refugees from Hitler's Germany with advice,
recommendations, and money to get them started in America. Many of
these men later became important faculty members and authors in
some of our major universities.
In addition to this tremendous range of interests and talents, he
was a very warm man in personal relations. A needy colleague would
always be helped-and always anonymously. He loved to make others
31
laugh by means of his quick wit and large inventory of puns. Everyone
that ever had dealings with Ben came away with certain strong
reactions. These included the uplift that comes from someone who
shares your enthusiasms and hopes, as well as the strong sense of a very
fair mind, entirely objective, in distinguishing between what was fair
rather than what was self-serving. In sum, Ben Graham was such a rare
combination of qualities, only those who knew him well over the years
can do full justice to presenting the whole man.
In the world of finance Ben's epitaph will be as was Christopher
Wren's in St. Paul's, "If you seek his monument-look about you."
32
AN HOUR WITH MR. GRAHAM
by Hartman L. Butler, Jr., C.F.A.
La Jolla, California
March 6, 1976
lIB: Mr. Graham, I do appreciate so much being able to come and
visit with you this afternoon. When Bob Milne learned that
Mrs. Butler and I would be in La Jolla, he suggested that I
not only visit with you but also bring along my cassette tape
recorder. We have much I would like to cover. First, could we
start with a topical question-Government Employees
Insurance Company-with GEICO being very much in the
headlines.
Graham: Yes, what happened was the team came into our office and
after some negotiating, we bought half the company for
$720,000. It turned out later that we were worth-the whole
company--over a billion dollars in the stock market. This was
a very extraordinary thing. But we were forced by the SEC to
distribute the stock among our stockholders because,
according to a technicality in the law, an investment fund
was not allowed more than 10 percent of an insurance
company. Jerry Newman and I became active in the conduct
of GEICO, although we both retired a number of years
ago. I am glad I am not connected with it now because of the
terrific losses.
lIB: Do you think GEICO will survive?
Graham: Yes, I think it will survive. There is no basic reason why it
won't survive, but naturally I ask myself whether the
company did expand much too fast without taking into
account the possibilities of these big losses. It makes me
shudder to think of the amounts of money they were able to
lose in one year. Incredible! It is surprising how many of the
large companies have managed to turn in losses of $50
million or $100 million in one year, in these last few years.
Something unheard of in the old days. You have to be a
genius to lose that much money.
33
HB: Looking back at your own life in the investment field, what
are some of the key developments or key happenings, would
you say? You went to Wall Street in 1914?
Graham: Well, the first thing that happened was typical. As a special
favor, I was paid $12 a week instead 0 f $10 to begin. The
next thing that happened was World War I broke out two
months later and the stock exchange was closed. My salary
was reduced to $10-that is one of the things more or less
typical of any young man's beginnings. The next thing that
was really important to me-outside of having made a rather
continuous success for 15 years-was the market crash of
1929.
HB: Did you see that coming at all-were you scared?
Graham: No. All I knew was that prices were too high. I stayed away
from the speculative favorites. I felt I had good investments.
But lowed money, which was a mistake, and I had to sweat
through the period 1929-1932. I didn't repeat that error after
that.
HB: Did anybody really see this coming-the crash of 1929?
Graham: Babson did, but he started selling five years earlier.
HB: Then in 1932, you began to come back?
Graham: Well, we sweated through that period. By 1937, we had
restored our financial position as it was in 1929. From then
on, we went along pretty smoothly.
HB: The 1937-1938 decline, were you better prepared for that?
Graham: Well, that led us to make some changes in our procedures
that one of our directors had suggested to us, which was
sound, and we followed his advice. We gave up certain things
we had been trying to do and concentrated more on others
that had been more consistently successful. We went along
fine. In 1948, we made our GEIeO investment and from then
on, we seemed to be very brilliant people.
34
HB: What happened III the only other interim bear
market-1940-1941?
Graham: Oh, that was only a typical setback period. We earned money
in those years.
HB: You earned money after World War II broke out?
Graham: Yes, we did. We had no real problems in running our
business. That's why I kind of lost interest. We were no
longer very challenged after 1950. About 1956, I decided to
quit and to come out here to California to live.
I felt that I had established a way of doing business to a point
where it no longer presented any basic problems to be solved.
We were going along on what I thought was a satisfactory
basis, and the things that presented themselves were typically
repetitions of old problems which I found no special interest
in solving.
About SIX years later, we decided to liquidate
Graham-Newman Corporation-to end it primarily because
the succession of management had not been satisfactorily
established. We felt we had nothing special to look forward
to that interested us. We could have built up an enormous
business had we wanted to, but we limited ourselves to a
maximum of $15 million of capital-only a drop in the
bucket these days. The question of whether we could earn
the maximum percentage per year was what interested us. It
was not the question of total sums, but annual rates of return
that we were able to accomplish.
HB: When did you decide to write your classic text, Security
Analysis?
Graham: What happened was that in about 1925, I thought that I
knew enough about Wall Street after 11 years to write a book
about it. But fortunately, I had the inspiration instead to
learn more on the subject before I wrote the book, so I
decided I would start teaching if I could. I became a Lecturer
at the Columbia School of Business for the extension courses.
In 1928, we had a course in security analysis and finance--I
think it was called Investments-and I had 150 students. That
was the time Wall Street was really booming.
35
The result was it took until 1934 before I actually wrote the
book with Dave Dodd. He was a student of mine in the first
year. Dave was then Assistant Professor at Columbia and was
anxious to learn more. Naturally, he was indispensable to me
in writing the book. The First Edition appeared in 1934.
Actually, it came out the same time as a play of mine which
was produced on Broadway and lasted only one week.
HB: You had a play on Broadway?
Graham: Yes. "Baby Pompadour" or "True to the Marines." It was
produced twice under two titles. It was not successful.
Fortunately, Security Analysis was much more successful.
HB: That was the book, wasn't it?
Graham: They called it the "Bible of Grahf-m and Dodd." Yes, well
now I have lost most of the interest I had in the details of
security analysis which I devoted myself to so strenuously for
many years. I feel that they are relatively unimportant,
which, in a sense, has put me opposed to developments in the
whole profession. I think we can do it successfully with a few
techniques and simple principles. The main point is to have
the right general principles and the character to stick to
them.
HB: My own experience is that you have to be a student of
industries to realize the great differences in managements. I
think that this is one thing an analyst can bring to the
solution.
Graham: Well, I would not deny that. But I have a considerable
amount of doubt on the question of how successful analysts
can be overall when applying these selectivity approaches.
The thing that I have been emphasizing in my own work for
the last few years has been the group approach. To try to buy
groups of stocks that meet some simple criterion for being
undervalued-regardless of the industry and with very little
attention to the individual company. My recent article on
three simple methods applied to common stocks was
published in one of your Seminar Proceedings.
I am just finishing a 50-year study-the application of these
simple methods to groups of stocks, actually, to all the stocks
36
in the Moody's Industrial Stock Group. I found the results
were very good for 50 years. They certainly did twice as well
as the Dow Jones. And so my enthusiasm has been
transferred from the selective to the group approach. What I
want is an earnings ratio twice as good as the bond interest
ratio typically for most years. One can also apply a dividend
criterion or an asset value criterion and get good results. My
research indicates the best results come from simple earnings
criterions.
HB: I have always thought it was too bad that we use the
price/earnings ratio rather than the earnings yield
measurement. It would be so much easier to realize that a
stock is selling at a 2.5 percent earnings yield rather than 40
times earnings.
Grallam: Yes. The earnings yield would be more scientific and a more
logical approach.
HB: Then with roughly a 50 percent dividend payout, you can
take half of the earnings yield to estimate a substainable
dividend yield.
Graham: Yes. Basically, I want to double the interest rate in terms of
earnings return. However, in most years the interest rate was
less than five percent on AAA bonds. Consequently, I have
set two limits. A maximum multiple of 10 even when interest
rates are under five percent, and a maximum multiple of 7
times even when interest rates are above seven percent as
they are now. So typically my buying point would be double
the current AAA interest rate with a maximum multiplier
between 10 and 7. My research has been based on that.
I received in Chicago last year the Molodovsky Award.
HB: I understand that you have about completed this research.
Graham: Imagine-there seems to be practically a foolproof way of
getting good results out of common stock investment with a
minimum of work. It seems too good to be true. But all I can
tell you after 60 years of experience, it seems to stand up
under any of the tests that I would make up. I would try to
get other people to criticize it.
37
HB: By some coincidence as you were becoming less active as a
writer, a number of professors started to work on the random
walk. What do you think about this?
Graham: Well, I am sure they are all very hardworking and serious. It's
hard for me to find a good connection between what they do
and practical investment results. In fact, they say that the
market is efficient in the sense that there is no particular
point in getting more information than people already have.
That might be true, but the idea of saying that the fact that
the information is so widely spread that the resulting prices
are logical prices-that is all wrong. I don't see how you can
say that the prices made in Wall Street are the right prices in
any intelligent definition of what right prices would be.
HB: It is too bad there have not been more contributions from
practicing analysts to provide some balance to the brilliant
work of the academic community.
Graham: Well, when we talk about buying stocks, as I do, I am talking
very practically in terms of dollars and cents, profits and
losses, mainly profits. I would say that if a stock with $50
working capital sells at $32, that would be an interesting
stock. If you buy 30 companies of that sort, you're bound to
make money. You can't lose when you do that. There are
two questions about this approach. One is, am I right in
saying if you buy stocks at two-thirds of the working capital
value, you have a dependable indication of group
undervaluation? That's what our own business experience
proved to us. The second question, are there other ways of
doing this?
HB: Are there any other ways?
Graham: Well, naturally, the thing that I have been talking about so
much this afternoon is applying a simple criterion of the
value of a security. But what everybody else is trying to do
pretty much is pick out the "Xerox" companies, the
"3M's", because of their long-term futures or to decide that
next year the semiconductor industry would be a good
industry. These don't seem to be dependable ways to do it.
There are certainly a lot of ways to keep busy.
38
HB: Would you have said that 30 years ago?
Graham: Well, no, I would not have taken as negative an attitude 30
years ago. But my positive attitude would have been to say,
rather, that you could have found sufficient examples of
individual companies that were undervalued.
HB: The efficient market people have kind of muddied the
waters, haven't they, in a way?
Graham: Well, they would claim that if they are correct in their basic
contentions about the efficient market, the thing for people
to do is to try to study the behavior of stock prices and try
to profit from these interpretations. To me, that is not a very
encouraging conclusion because if I have noticed anything
over these 60 years on Wall Street, it is that people do not
succeed in forecasting what's going to happen to the stock
market.
HB: That is certainly true.
Graham: And all you have to do is to listen to "Wall Street Week" and
you can see that none of them has any particular claim to
authority or opinions as to what will happen in the stock
market. They, and economists, all have opinions and they are
willing to express them if you ask them. But I don't think
they insist that their opinions are correct, though.
HB: What thoughts do you have on index funds?
Graham: I have very definite views on that. I have a feeling that the
way in which institutional funds should be managed, at least
a number of them, would be to start with the index
concept-the equivalent of index results, say 100 or 150
stocks out of the Standard & Poor's 500. Then turn over to
managers the privilege of making a variation, provided they
would accept personal responsibility for the success of the
variation that they introduced. I assume that basically the
compensation ought to be measured by the results either in
terms of equaling the index, say Standard & Poor's results, or
to the extent by which you improve it. Now in the group
discussions of this thing, the typical money managers don't
accept the idea and the reason for non-acceptance is chiefly
39
that they say-not that it isn't practical-but that it isn't
sound because different investors have different
requirements. They have never been able to convince me that
that's true in any significant degree-that different investors
have different requirements. All investments require
satisfactory results, and I think satisfactory results are pretty
much the same for everybody. So I think any experience of
the last 20 years, let's say, would indicate that one could
have done as well with Standard & Poor's than with a great
deal of work, intelligence, and talk.
HB: Mr. Graham, what advice would you have to a young man or
woman coming along now who wants to be a security analyst
and a Chartered Financial Analyst?
Graham: I would t f ~ J 1 them to study the past record of the stock
market, study their own capabilities, and find out whether
they can identify an approach to investment they feel would
be satisfactory in their own case. And if they have done that,
pursue that without any reference to what other people do or
think or say. Stick to their own methods. That's what we did
with our own business. We never followed the crowd, and I
think that's favorable for the young analyst. If he or she
reads The Intelligent Investor-which I feel would be more
useful than Security Analysis of the two books-and selects
from what we say some approach which one thinks would be
profitable, then I say that one should do this and stick to it. I
had a nephew who started in Wall Street a number of years
ago and came to me for some advice. I said to him, "Dick, I
have some practical advice to give you which is this. You can
buy closed-end investment companies at 15 percent discounts
on an average. Get your friends to put "x" amount of dollars
a month in these closed-end companies at discounts and you
will start ahead of the game and you will make out all right."
Well, he did do that-he had no great difficulty in starting his
business on that basis. It did work out all right and then the
big bull market came along and, of course, he moved over to
other fields and did an enormous amount of speculative
business later. But at least he started, I think, on a sound
basis. And if you start on a sound basis, you are half-way
along.
40
HB: Do you think that Wall Street or the typical analyst or
portfolio managers have learned their lessons of the "Go-Go"
funds, the growth cult, the one-decision stocks, the two-tier
market, and all?
Graham: No. They used to say about the Bourbons that they forgot
nothing and they learned nothing, and I'll say about the Wall
Street people, typically, is that they learn nothing, and they
forget everything. I have no confidence whatever in the
future behavior of the Wall Street people. I think this
business of greed-the excessive hopes and fears and so
on-will be with us as long as there will be people. There is a
famous passage in Bagehot, the English economist, in which
he describes how panics come about. Typically, if people
have money, it is available to be lost and they speculate with
it and they lose it-that's how panics are done. I am very
cynical about Wall Street.
HB: But there are independent thinkers on Wall Street and
throughout the country who do well, aren't there?
Graham: Yes. There are two requirements for success in Wall Street.
One, you have to think correctly; and secondly, you have to
think independently.
HB: Yes, correctly and independently. The sun is trying to come
out now, literally, here in La]olla. What do you see of the
sunshine on Wall Street?
Graham: Well, there has been plenty of sunshine since the middle of
1974 when the bottom of the market was reached. And my
guess is that Wall Street hasn't changed at all. The present
optimism is going to be overdone, and the next pessimism
will be overdone, and you are back on the Ferris
Wheel-whatever you want to call it--Seesaw,
Merry-Go-Round. You will be back on that. Right now,
stocks as a whole are not overvalued, in my opinion. But
nobody seems concerned with what are the possibilities that
1970 and 1973-1974 will be duplicated in the next five years.
Apparently, nobody has given any thought to that question.
But that such experiences will be duplicated in the next five
years or so, you can bet your Dow]ones Average on that.
HB: This has been a most pleasant and stimulative visit. We will
look forward to receiving in Charlottesville your memoirs
manuscript. Thank you so much, Mr. Graham!
41
BENJAMIN GRAHAM AS A PORTFOLIO MANAGER
In these days of sophisticated techniques for measuring portfolio
performance, it is interesting to read Ben's impressionistic comments
about the profits of the investment funds that he managed. No
information is available on the Grahar Corporation except that the two
and a half years ended with "a substantial profit," after providing him
with a salary that amounted to four percent of the starting capital plus
six percent annually for distributions to the investors. Thus, the total
annual return must have exceeded 10 percent. The return for the Dow
Jones Industrial Average would have been as follows:
Index Including
Dow.I ones Dividend Reinvested Dividends
Annual compounded rate of return
6-1-23
12-31-23
12-31-24
12-31-25
95.36
95.52
120.51
156.66
2.30
4.27
4.17
100.00
102.58
134.00
178.84
26.2%
The record of the Benjamin Graham Joint Account can only be
approximated for the intermediate years, from references supplied in
Ben's memoirs. The record for the entire period of ten years is,
however, reasonably correct since it was not until the tenth year, 1935,
that the ravages of the crash were recovered in full and, for the first
time since 1928, Ben became eligible for profit-sharing. The following
figures are only approximations:
12-31
1925
1926
1927
1928
1 ~ 2 9
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
Indexes-Including Reinvested Dividends
Ben Graham S&P Dow Jones
Joint Account* 500 Industrials
100 100.00 100.00
110 111.60 104.40
150 153.56 138.10
250 220.83 208.73
200 202.05 177.80
100 151.54 125.73
80 85.62 65.93
75 78.51 54.63
115 121.15 94.16
120 119.33 101.51
180 176.13 145.06
Annual rate of
return _mIL
*Approximate figures
42
This decade of operations produced performance for the investors
modestly greater than that of the market---even after providing Ben and
Jerry with very substantial profit sharing in the first three years---and
fairly substantial profit sharing in the final two years.
The record of Graham-Newman Corporation is documented in the
following tables covering the period from January 31, 1945, when
figures were first published in Moody's Manual of Banks and Finance
Companies, until 1956. Table 1 consists of the raw data indicating the
basic record of Graham-Newman Corporation during its final dozen
years of operation except for the Government Employees Insurance
Company shares.
TABLE 1
Investment Performance of the Graham-Newman Corp.
(Excluding GElCO)
S&P 500
Asset Value of Total Total
Value
Dividend
Rights Index Return Return Index
1-31-45
140.84
31.18
4.08 100.00 100.00
1-31-46
140.51
33.20
5.00 126.89 26.89% 42.76% 142.76
1-31-47
116.84
12.20
116.53 - 8.16 -11.85 125.85
1-31-48
114.13
17.10
130.88 12.31 .83 124.80
1-31-49
97.56
5.20
28.00* 149.95 14.57 9.94 137.21
1-31-50
106.57
10.55
180.02 20.05
19.51 163.98
**1-31-51 123.25
12.00
228.46 26.91 35.66 222.45
**1-31-52 125.79
17.75
266.07 16.46 17.96 262.40
** 1-31-53 136.11
9.24
307.44 15.55 15.12 302.08
**1-31-54
128.67
9.03
311.04 1.17 14.36 345.46
**1-31-55
101.82
44.42
353.51 13.65 46.36 505.61
**1-31-56
89.61
32.77
424.89 20.19 24.11 627.52
**8-20-56 93.11
20.27
537.60 26.53 12.32 704.82
* Includes $27.00 market value of 1.08 sh. Government Employees Insurance Co.
**Adjusted for I-for-l0 reverse split.
These performance results can be summarized as follows:
Annual rate of return
Management fee
Annual return to shareholders
Graham-Newman Corp.
17.4%
-1.9
43
S&P 500
18.3%
20
x
This rate of return was not exceptional, but its character can be
seen from Figure 1 which shows the risk-adjusted rates of return earned
by the fund and by the S&P 500.
FIGURE 1
Risk-Adjusted Rates of Return;
Graham-Newman Corp. and S&P 500
Graham- 30% ,-------------------------------,
Newman
Corp.
x
l<
10
o 10 20
alpha '= 7.70
beta .39
r
2
.46
30 40%
x
S&P 500
The relationship depicted in Figure 1 indicates a beta coefficient
of .39 and an alpha coefficient of 7.70. The data are adjusted for the
risk-free rate of return as measured by the interest rate on 91-day U.S.
Treasury Bills. The performance of Graham-Newman Corporation
during these dozen years indicates a very low sensitivity to market
risks-with returns more directly related to the maturing of the special
situations that Ben kept finding. The risk characteristics illustrated in
Figure 1 are summarized as follows:
S&P 500 performance
Risk-free rate of return
S&P 500 Premium for risk
Graham-Newman Corp.
Expected risk premium
Risk-free rate of return
Expected return
Actual return
Excess return
44
18.3% per year
- 1.2
17.1%
6.6%
1.2
7.8%
15.5%
---
+ 7.7%
In summary, the fund did 7.7 percent per year better than would
have been expected considering its low beta (sensitivity to market
fluctuations). It is doubtful, however, that very many of the investors
in the Graham-Newman Corporation used this approach to measure the
success of their investment. The fabulous success of the GEICO
investment far overshadowed everything else.
Table 2 shows the market values for the holdings of the two main
GEICO companies that were distributed; GEICO itself, and
Government Employees Life Insurance Company. Two other affiliates,
Government Employees Financial Corporation and Criterion Insurance
Company, are not shown, although they would have added modestly to
the profits received if the rights to these issues had been exercised. As
this table makes no provision for the reinvestment of dividends, total
returns would have been larger than those indicated.
TABLE 2
Market Values of the GEICO and GEICO Life Shares
GEICO GEICO Life
Shares Price Value Shares Price Value
--
1-31-49 1.80 28.50 $ 51
1-31-50 2.16 57.25 124 2.16 15.25
$ 33
1-31-51 2.52 39.75 100 2.16 17.50 38
1-31-52 3.60 38.50 139 2.16 14.88 32
1-31-53 3.60 58.50 211 2.16 18.00 39
1-31-54
3.96 88.25 349 2.16 28.35 61
1-31-55 7.92 70.50 558 2.16 34.00 73
1-31-56 8.55 66.50
569
2.16 42.50 92
8-20-56 9.20 55.00 506 2.21 49.00 108
12-31-60 29.40 90.88 2,672 4.77 63.00 301
12-31-65 46.34
105.75 4,900 14.59 51.00
744
12-31-70 111.14 51.94 5,773 30.96 30.00 929
1972 High 222.27 63.75 14,170 31.89 66.25 2,113
12-31-76 231.16 7.31 1,690 47.83 15.00 717
45
The results of an investment in 100 shares of Graham-Newman
Corporation common at 1-31-48, costing $11,413, compared with an
equivalent investment in the Standard & Poor's 500, are presented
below. Neither series has been adjusted for dividends, but the proceeds
from the 1956 liquidation of Graham-Newman were assumed to have
been reinvested in the S&P 500. These results certainly speak for
themselves.
1-31-48
8-20-56
1972 Peak
12-31-76
1948-76 Appreciation
Graham-Newman
and GEICO
$ 11,413
70,413
1,658,989
262,490
11.4% per year
46
S&P 500
$11,413
30,968
93,181
84,060
7.1% per year
QUOTATIONS FROM BENJAMIN GRAHAM
We have stressed theory not for itself alone but for its value in
practice. We have tried to avoid prescribing standards which are too
stringent to follow, or technical methods which are more trouble than
they are worth.
It zs the conservative investor who w£ll need most of all to be
reminded constantly of the lessons of 1931-1933 and of previous
collapses. For what we shall call f£xed-value investments can be soundly
chosen only if they are approached--in the Spinozan phase- 'from the
viewpoint of calamity.' In dealing with other types of security
commitments, we have striven throughout to guard the student against
overemphasis upon the superficial and the temporary. Twenty years of
varied experience in Wall Street have taught the senior author that thzs
overemphaszs zs at once the delusion and the nemesis of the world of
finance.
Security Analysis
First Edition, 1934
We have no scoring system for security analysts, and hence no
batting averages. Perhaps that is just as well. Yet it would be anomalous
indeed zf we were to devo te our lives to making concrete
recommendations to clients without being able to prove, either to them
or to ourselves, whether we were right in any given case. The worth of a
good analyst undoubtedly shows itself decisively over the years in the
sum total results of his recommendations.
The Analysts Journal
First Quarter, 1946
If we could assume that the pn"ce of each of the leading issues
already reflects the expectable developments of the next year or two,
then a random selectz"on should work out as well as one conf£ned to
those with the best near-term outlook.
Security Analysis
Third Edition, 1951
47
The investor with a portfolio of sound stocks should expect their
prices to fluctuate and should neither be concerned by sizable declines
nor become exC£ted by sizable advances. He should always remember
that market quotations are there for his convenience, either to be taken
advantage of or to be ignored.
Sound generalz"zations can be more dangerous than unsound ones
because they lure more people into unwarranted actions.
The Intelligent Investor
Third Edition, 1959
The post-World War II world has been characterized as 'brave' and
'new.' Brave it is, indeed, but we are not positive that it is equally new.
We can be skeptical about a complete break with the past.
Security Analysis
Fourth Edition, 1962
Common stocks have one important investment characteristic and
one important speculative characteristic. Their investment value and
average market price tend to increase irregularly but persistently over
the decades, as their net worth builds up through the reinvestment of
undistributed earnings . ... However, most of the time common stocks
are subject to irrational and excessive price fluctuations in both
directions, as the consequence of the ingrained tendency of most
people to speculate or gamble-i.e., to give way to hope, fear and greed.
Financial Analysts Iournal
September/October, 1976
48
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
Graham, Benjamin, and Dodd, David L. Security Analysis. New York:
McGraw-Hill Book Co. First edition, 1934; Second edition, 1940;
Third edition, 1951; Fourth edition (with Sidney Cottle and
Charles Tatham), 1962.
Graham, Benjamin, and McGolrick, Charles. The Interpretation of
Financial Statements. New York: Harper & Row, Inc. First
edition, 1937; Second edition, 1955.
Graham, Benjamin. Storage and Stability, A Modem Ever-Normal
Granary, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1937.
Graham, Benjamin. World Commodities and JVorld Currency. New
York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1944.
Graham, Benjamin. The Intelligent Investor. New York: Harper & Row,
Inc. First edition, 1949; Second edition, 1954; Third edition,
1959; Fourth edition, 1973.
Benedetti, Mario. The Truce. Translated by Benjamin Graham from the
Spanish. New York: Harper & Row, Inc. 1967.
Harmon, Elmer Meredity. Commodity Reserve Currency, the
Graham-Goudriaan Proposal for Stab£lizing Income of Primary
Produe£ng Countr£es. Columbia University Press. 1959.
Selected Articles by Benjamin Graham
"Is American Business Worth More Dead Than Alive?" Forbes, June 1,
1932;June 13, 1932;July 1, 1932.
"Stock Dividends," Barron's, August 3 and August 10, 1953.
"The Renaissance of Value," The Financial Analysts Research
Foundation, 1974.
Articles by Benjamin Graham in the Financial Analysts Journal
"Should Security Analysts Have a Professional Rating? The Affirmative
Case," January 1945.
"On Being Right in Security Analysis," First Quarter 1946.
"The Hippocratic Method in Security Analysis," Second Quarter 1946.
"The S.E.C. Method of Security Analysis," Third Quarter 1946.
"Special Situations," Fourth Quarter 1946.
49
"ANote on Corporate Working Capital 1939-1945," Fourth Quarter 1946.
"Growth of Corporate Working Capital, 1939-1945," First Quarter 1947.
"A Questionnaire on Stockholder-Management Relationship," Fourth
Quarter 1947.
"Two Ways of Making (and Losing) Money in Securities," Second
Quarter 1948 Supplement.
"The War Economy and Stock Values," First Quarter 1951.
"Toward a Science of Security Analysis," August 1952.
"Which Way to Relief from the Double Tax on Corporate Profits?"
February 1954.
"Some Structural Relationships Bearing Upon Full Employment." May
1955.
"Two Illustrative Approaches to Formula Valuations of Common
Stocks," November 1957.
"The New Speculation in Common Stocks," June 1958.
"Our Balance of Payments-the Conspiracy of Silence," November 1962.
"The Future of Financial Analysis," May 1963.
"Some Observations," November 1967.
"A Conversation With Benjamin Graham," September 1976.
50

Copyright © 1977 by The Financial Analysts Research Foundation Charlottesville, Virginia
10-digit ISBN: 1-934667-05-6 13-digit ISBN: 978-1-934667-05-7

CONTENTS

Dedication About the Authors

• VIlI

IX

1.

Biographical Sketch of Benjamin Graham, Financial Analyst Some Reflections on Ben Graham's Personality

1 31 33 42 47 49

II.

III. An Hour with Mr. Graham, March 1976 IV. Benjamin Graham as a Portfolio Manager V.
VI.

Quotations from Benjamin Graham Selected Bibliography

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

The authors wish to thank The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts staff, including Mary Davis Shelton and Ralph F. MacDonald, III, in preparing this manuscript for publication.

v

THE FINANCIAL ANALYSTS RESEARCH FOUNDATION AND ITS PUBLICATIONS
1.

The Financial Analysts Research Foundation is an autonomous charitable foundation, as defined by Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation seeks to improve the professional performance of financial analysts by fostering education, by stimulating the development of financial analysis through high quality research, and by facilitating the dissemination of such research to users and to the public. More specifically, the purposes and obligations of the Foundation are to commission basic studies (1) with respect to investment securities analysis, investment management, financial analysis, securities markets and closely related areas that are not presently or adequately covered by the available literature, (2) that are directed toward the practical needs of the financial analyst and the portfolio manager, and (3) that are of some enduring value. The Financial Analysts Research Foundation is affiliated with The Financial Analysts Federation, The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts, and the University of Virginia through The Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. Several types of studies and publications are authorized: A. Studies based on existing knowledge or methodology which result in a different arrangement of the subject. Included in this category are papers that seek to broaden the understanding within the profession of financial analysis through reviewing, distilling, or synthesizing previously published theoretical research, empirical findings, and specialized literature; Studies that apply known techniques, methodology, and quantitative methods to problems of financial analysis; Studies that develop new approaches or new solutions to important problems existing in financial analysis; Pioneering and original research that discloses new theories, new relationships, or new knowledge that confirms, rejects, or extends existing theories and concepts in financial analysis. Ordinarily, such research is intended to improve the state of the art. The research findings may be supported by the collection or manipulation of empirical or descriptive data from primary sources, such as original records, field interviews, or surveys.

2.

B. C. D.

3.

The views expressed in this book and in the other studies published by the Foundation are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Foundation, its Board of Trustees, or its staff. As a matter of policy, the :Foundation has no official position with respect to specific practices in financial analysis. The Foundation is indebted to the voluntary financial support of its institutional and individual sponsors by which this and other publications are made possible. As a 50I(c)(3) foundation, contributions are welcomed from interested donors, including individuals, business organizations, institutions, estates, foundations, and others. Inquiries may be directed to: Research Director The Financial Analysts Research Foundation University of Virginia, Post Office Box 6550 Charlottesville, Virginia 22906 (804) 924-3900

4.

VI

10168 Creekmere C{rcle Dallas.A. Post Office Box 3668 Charlottesville. Virginia 22903 Frank E. C. Post Office Box 3668 Charlottesville. Research Director The Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration University of Virginia. Grant. Virginia 22906 Robert F. Research Coordinator University of Virginia.A. New York 10017 Chairman. Brittany Associates. Inc. Treynor.A. New York 10019 William S. C.A.F. 200 Park Avenue New York.F.A. Vice President Boyd. C. Virginia 22903 Hartman L. The Central Trust Company Fourth and Vine Streets Cincinnati. Wertheim & Co. Executive Director and Treasurer University of Virginia.A. The FinanC£al Analysts Fedemtion Philip P. 1500 Union Commerce Building Cleveland. Watterson & Co..F. Post Office Box 3668 Charlottesville.A.. Brooks. Texas 75218 William R.A. Harris Trust and Savings Bank III West Monroe Street Chicago.A. C.THE FINANCIAL ANALYSTS RESEARCH FOUNDATION 1976-1977 Board of Trustees and Officers Jerome L. C. Ohio 45202 President. C. The Institute of Chartered Financial A naly sts C: Stewart Sheppard University of Virginia Post Office Box 6550 Charlottesville. Harvey Earp. Stewart Sheppard. Finance Chairman The Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration University of Virginia. Post Office Box 6550 Charlottesville. Virginia 22903 VII . Virginia 22906 W. Illinois 60690 Ex Officio Walter S.Jr..A. Milne. Valentine. Shields Model Roland Incorporated 44 Wall Street New York.F..F. Harris Upham & Co. New York 10005 M.Jr. C. The Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration C.F. C. III. 216 Merrie Way Houston.. Texas 77024 Robert D.F. Butler. Executive Director and Treasurer The Financial Analysts Research Foundation University of Virginia. Inc. Vandell.A. Block. New York 10017 W. Post Office Box 6550 Charlottesville. C. Scott Bauman.F . C. C.F. Secretary Financial Analysts Journal 219 East 42nd Street New York.. President Research Statistics. Gray. McConnell. Ohio 44115 Jack L. Incorporated 1345 Avenue of the Americas New York.F. Virginia 22906 Dean.. Scott Bauman.F. Inc. Smith Barney.

in recognition of his outstanding contribution. through dedicated effort and inspiring leadership. This award was conferred on George M. HANSEN This publication was financed in part by a grant from The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts made under the C.DEDICATION TO GEORGE M. Stewart Sheppard Award.F . Hansen.A. and in developing programs and publications to encourage the continuing education of financial analysts. viii . in advancing The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts as a vital force in fostering the education of financial analysts. C.. in establishing high ethical standards of conduct.

P.A.ABOUT the AUTHORS Irving Kahn. He is a past President of The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts. Watterson & Co. investment counselors. He is stilI active as an investment advisor at Lehman Brothers in New York. He has written a number of articles for professional publications. He is a founder of the New York Society of Security Analysts and serves as an Associate Editor of the Financial Analysts Joumal.F. Milne. Digest. C. Robert D.D. serves as a member of the Editorial Board of The G. He is Vice President of The Financial Analysts Research Foundation.A. degree from Baldwin-Wallace College and his J.. dgeree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University.A. Robert Milne is a partner of Boyd. C.P. He is a past President of the Cleveland Society of Security Analysts. ix . and is an Associate Editor of the Financial Analysts Jom"nal. Irving Kahn was an early student and then assistant to Benjamin Graham at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and the New York Institute of Finance.A. Mr. and is a member of the Ohio Bar. Milne received his B.

One of the co-authors of this sketch. had the experience of working extensively and teaching under Ben for over four decades. The lead article ended with Ben's exhortation consistently stressed for half a century: "True investors can exploit the recurrent excessive optimism and excessive apprehension of the speculative public. 1 .000 copies of "Graham & Dodd" have brought his concepts about the merits of investment over speculation to two generations of our profession.A. The financial success of Ben and his clients dramatically demonstrated the practical value of his thorough approach to the evaluation of investments. Ben was most enthusiastic about this project and supplied nearly 200 pages of an unpublished draft of his memoirs written in 1956. The reader should understand that the enduring portions of this biography are among Ben's many contributions that have both enriched our lives and enhanced our understanding of the early development of the profession of financial analysis. The transcript of the March 1976 interview by the Foundation's Research Coordinator. France at age 82. Rather it was the result of much hard work and the experience of two decades before the first edition. 1976 at his home in Aix-en-Provence.. The cover of the then current issue of the Financial Analysts Journal (the September/October issue had gone to press only shortly before his death) had the portrait that adorns this publication.BENJAMIN GRAHAM THE FATHER OF FINANCIAL ANALYSIS Benjamin Graham died on September 21. C. Jr. one generally has to go back many decades to find his last contributions..F. published in 1934 and in its fourth edition still is used in the Chartered Financial Analysts Candidate Study Program. Butler. Over a year ago The Financial Analysts Research Foundation became interested in the preparation of a biographical sketch of the professional development of Benjamin Graham as a contribution to the history of the development of financial analysis." The profession of financial analysis was built on the pioneering book Security Analysis. This was not the case with Ben Graham. helped Ben to review some of the parts in his active life not covered in his memoirs. More than 100. Students of Security Analysis recognized that the masterpiece did not spring into life in one outburst of genius. When a pioneer in a profession dies at an advanced age. Hartman L. Irving Kahn.

Each of the department heads pointed out the satisfactions of an academic career. Ben graduated near the top of his class at Boys High School in Brooklyn. three departments-Philosophy. His father wa~ in the family business of importing china and bric-a-brac from Austria and Germany. Bewildered by this wealth of offers. Although Ben never studied economics at Columbia. 1894 in London. Mathematics. Frederick Keppel. he continued his studies with such great success that he graduated second in the Class of 1914. and 1l.HIS EARLY LIFE Benjamin Graham was born on l\1ay 9. all boys. When Ben was 13. Ben conferred with Columbia's Dean. Despite dwindling family resources. the youngest of three children. 10 at 117th Street and St. During his final month at Columbia. When he was just a year old. he was eager to participate in the "mysterious rites and momentous events" alluded to in novels about the world of finance. THE BEGINNING OF' A CAREER Thus. The need to help support the family forced him to drop his daytime classes to take a full-time job with United States Express. Nor did his mother's two-year experiment running a boarding house prove any more successful. Various efforts were made to continue the business but. Ben began the normal life of a boy in New York. This was Ben's first contact with the stock market. His mam task was to prepare thumbnail 2 . Ben began his career with Newburger. it failed in little more than a year. Nicholas Avenue. His father died at only 35. leaving his widow to bring up three boys ages 9.S. his mother opened a margin account to buy an odd lot of U. a member of the New York Stock Exchange came in to see Dean Keppel about his son's woeful grades and. despite low starting salaries and slow prospects for advancement. asked the Dean to recommend one of his best students. who had a strong prediliction for sending bright graduates into business instead of an academic life. S. Henderson & Loeb as an assistant in the bond department at $12 per week ($68 in 1977 dollars). By coincidence. in the course of the interview. After a month as a runner delivering securities and checks. he became the assistant to a two-man bond department. Steel. and English-each invited him to join their faculties as an instructor. The panic of 1907 wiped out the smail margin account. attending P. 10. without an active adult. the family moved to New York to open an American branch of the firm. Yet. A clerical error delayed his scholarship to Columbia for one semester.

World War I broke out and European investors' heavy sales of their American securities caused the panic that forced the New York Stock Exchange to close for several months. Ben was asked to become a "statistician"-as security analysts were then called--at a salary of $18 per week. Its report for the year ended in June 1914 convinced him that the company was in poor physical and financial condition and that its bonds should not be held by investors. This was then a pleasant occupation. and even made an occasional delivery of securities. Ben was learning about the limited understanding most clients had of the securities they bought or owned. including helping the "boardboy" put up stock quotations. One of his earliest studies was an analysis of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. As a result." 3 . caught shorthanded by this increased activity. Henderson & Loeb would not object. Ben was assigned the additional task of writing the daily market-letter for their Philadelphia office. He applied himself diligently to the then standard textbook: The Principles of Bond Investment by Lawrence Chamberlain. When the market settled down. Other days he operated the telephone switchboard.descriptions of each bond in their daily lists of recommendations. To his surprise. These routine jobs gave Ben an understanding of all aspects of the investment world." "That's for us to decide. as he had brought in no bond commissions to offset his salary. I'd do better at statistical work. Although these calls turned out to be fruitless. the partners decided to send Ben out to call on customers." "That's fine. You can be it. Ben assumed that Newburger. I thought I wasn't earnmg my salt here. After six weeks. His firm. used Ben to fill many gaps. It's time we had a statistical department. because in those days the average businessman was flattered to be called upon by a bond salesman and even his "No" was invariably polite. a 50 percent raise. not you. Samuel Newburger Instead was outraged that his employee could be so disloyal as to consider leaving. The floor broker in turn showed the report to a partner In Bache & Co. A few months later. He showed the report to a friend who was a floor broker on the Exchange. investor confidence gradually returned and the big wartime rise began. helped out in the back office." "But I'm not cut out for a bond salesman. When trading resumed on a limited basis. this conversation ensued: "But. Ben began to study railroad reports. then the major industry with bonds outstanding.

or else to conform with stock exchange regulations. What really counted was "insider information"-some of it related to a company's operations. in major stocks. but much relating to the plans of stock market pools. The financial services took advantage of this information. 75 .20 5. Market manipulators were held responsible for most of the moves. reprinting it in convenient form in their manuals and current publications. the ICC and various regulatory bodies were gathering enormous quantities of data.7277 share Kennecott Copper @ 52.185 share Ray Cons.23 Equivalent Securities Held . This holding company had large interests in several copper mining companies actively trading on the New York Stock Exchange. penetrating analysis of security values. however.88 $38.0833 share Amer.EARLY YEARS ON WALL STREET Investment activity in that era was almost entirely limited to bonds. up or down. was neglected in common stock analysis. especially among industrial issues.39 6. In addition. When Guggenheim Exploration proposed to dissolve and to distribute its various holdings to its shareholders on a pro rata basis. Ben calculated the arbitrage values as follows: Market Value September 1. Ben's career as a distinctive professional Wall Street analyst dates back to the 1915 plan for the dissolution of the Guggenheim Exploration Company. Common stocks. 1915 1 share Guggenheim Exploration $68.1172 share Chino Copper @ 46. Thus. Copper @ 22.60 $76. The improved financial position of industrial companies-resulting from World War I expansion-developed those factors of intrinsic value and investment merit that were to become the dominant concepts in future market moves.23 21. with a relatively few exceptions for the major railroads and utilities. all of which were open for inspection and study. Most of this financial information.88 Other assets Total 4 . either voluntarily to attract investors. Smelting @ 81. the Wall Street of the early 1920's became virgin territory for exploitation by genuine. a growing supply of corporate information had begun to appear.81 4. Operating and financial information was supplied by corporations.50 . were viewed as speculations. Nonetheless. The figures were considered to have limited current interest.00 .

35 for each share of Guggenheim Exploration purchased. The unsuspecting Algernon was shocked to hear the results. One of Ben's associates proposed that he manage his venture in Guggenheim in return for a 20 percent share in the profits.These calculations meant an assured arbitrage profit of $ 7. Ben was unable to repay his share of the loss since his funds were tied up in the phonograph shop. The typical U. agreed to supply $10. The risks lay in the possibility that the shareholders might not approve the dissolution.1916. with the profits or losses of the trading account to be divided equally between the professor and Ben. benefitted hugely from war orders for munitions and supplies for England and France.000 of capital. Beginning with a so-called "peace scare" in the Fall of 1916 and continuing for a year after America entered the war in early 1917. Ben applied for the Officer Candidate Training Camp. The account was called for more margin. these stocks also dropped in the general weakness and. Common stocks rose to unprecedented heights. Professor of English at Columbia. But. bids for such obscure issues tended to disappear. When the dissolution went through on January 17. or that litigation might delay it. the firm arbitraged a large number of shares. Ben used his share to invest $7. with his brother Leon operating the store. when the United States entered the war. In April 1917. The Tassin account was generally in obscure issues that actually were worth more than their market quotations. The store was kept going for several years before selling out. the brokerage community prospered mightily. but 5 . still lightly taxed. but he received a curt rejection because he was still a British subject. security prices suffered a persistent decline. too. and Ben's salary did. Algernon Tassin. even worse. Because none of these risks appeared substantial. The years 1915-1916 saw the big bull market of World War 1. Ben joined Company M of the New York State Guard. whose most active participation was marching to the Guard's band led by Victor Herbert! Ben's success with the Guggenheim Exploration Co. provided that simultaneous sales were made of the underlying copper companies. S. corporation.000 in "The Broadway Phonograph Shop" at Broadway and 98th Street. The account prospered famously during the first year with several thousand dollars of profit for each. His good friend. and it was necessary to make sales at a considerable loss. dissolution encouraged him to buy common stocks that appeared to be underpriced while simultaneously selling overpriced stocks. Another potential problem might arise in maintaining a "short" position in the copper stocks until the distribution was made to Guggenheim shareholders. Ben's reputation and his net worth both grew.

After two years the market strengthened sufficiently to make up the deficiency. One of Ben's friends was with the important public utility bond house. where he had a great success. Victor. At one point he was asked to join the staff and later he was asked to become editor with an attractive salary. became an advertising salesman for the Magazine of Wall Street. in acting as agent for his employer. The prosperity of Japan combined with the currency problems of Europe following World War I meant that these bonds became very attractive for Japanese investors. Bonbright & Co." During the war years Ben submitted to the Magazine of Wall Street an article entitled "Bargains in Bonds. He introduced Ben to a young man. Bonbright & Co. without any liability for losses. Ben's brother. Henderson & Loeb. but Ben was able to offer Miki his firm's comprehensive and energetic service. The bonds were then shipped to Japan. because a large portion of the Japanese bonds had been sold in $100 denominations or equivalent pieces in Paris and London. draft attached. the Fujimoto Bill Broker Bank of Osaka. either in a European currency or in yen. he became a frequent contributor to the magazine. Junkichi Miki. and in later years Ben was able to build up Professor Tassin's fortune to a "quite respectable figure.sympathetically allowed Ben to make up the deficiency at $60 per month. Instead. Mr. The back office was less enthusiastic. These "small pieces" were considered a nuisance in 6 . Paris. who had tried to interest Bonbright & Co. THE NEW ERA BEGINS Between 1919 and 1929. Ben arranged for the purchase of these bonds on a large scale through his firm's correspondents in London. was too busy with its own underwritings. active in acquiring Japanese Government bonds. retaining his salary and gaining a 2Y2 percent interest in the profits. however. Henderson & Loeb was the exclusive agent.000 during the two years that Newburger. Various issues of Japanese Government bonds had been placed in Europe and America in 1906 during the Russo-Japanese War. Newburger again talked Ben out of leaving the firm. this time promising him a junior partnership. at the option of the holder. and Amsterdam. These bonds were payable. The two percent commission provided over $100. Ben's upward progress in Wall Street was so rapid as to verge on the spectacular. becoming the vice president in charge of the department. At the beginning of 1920 he was made a partner in N ewburger." This was a thorough study showing the disparities among the prices of a number of quite comparable issues. From then on.

selling at a substantial discount. Robert J. Ben subsequently wished he had met him before the circular was issued. they issued "circulars" analyzing one or more securities in detail. A few days later the president of Ajax Tire appeared at Ben's office. Two other Japanese banking firms then became customers and made up for some of the lost business. the circular did not recommend any unpatriotic act-and it proved to be a profitable recommendation. The special safe deposit box for these bonds was known. Periodically." The New York Stock Exchange promptly asked for a copy. In 1919. to buy these bonds. He was given an assistant. Ben's main work was in handling an inquiries about security lists or individual issues.000 face amount would usually result in the appearance of one thousand separate bonds. The study duly noted that Ajax Tire common appeared to be the most attractive. After two years. Because his analysis portrayed the Milwaukee Railroad in a highly unfavorable light. S.Western markets. This circular was advertised in the newspapers under the title "Memorandum to Holders of Victory Bonds. Louis & Southwestern Railroad. as an unwritten rule prohibited Stock Exchange Members from recommending switches out of Government Bonds into corporate securities. not too favorably. As the Japanese had no prejudice against these bonds. in May of 1921 they recommended the sale of the U. That circular was a detailed statistical comparison of all the listed tire and rubber stocks. Marony. Victory 4%'s due in 1923 and selling at 97% and reinvestment in the U. Stern-whose own distinguished career has included terms as President of The Financial Analysts Federation and of The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts. The typical purchase of $100. Ajax Tire flourished only a little while and then declined into bankruptcy. Milwaukee & St. For example. later a senior partner in the firm and the father of Walter P. Leo Stern. Thus. he felt it best to submit it to the company before publication. Fortunately. the Fujimoto Bank set up its own New York office. 4%'s of 1938 then selling at 87Y2. Marony looked over the material rather rapidly and said: "I don't quarrel with your facts or your 7 . his back office was inundated with reams of documents. Ben prepared a detailed comparison of the Chicago. a lesson in the importance of meeting top management was learned. with Miki in charge. as the "Ben Graham" box. Another circular was more notable for teaching Ben a lesson. An appointment was made with the Financial Vice-President. Paul Railroad with the S1. S. They believed that the then high level of interest rates would subside and thus the longer term bonds had better appreciation po~sibilities.

Steel common stock and even a good part of its $360 million of preferred had originally been "water. A strong argument was made for the purchase of sound common stocks at reasonable prices. Ben realized that it was necessary to study tax laws thoroughly to see their effect on corporations' results. The Excess Profits Tax of 1917. but it isn't and that's that. revealed that all the $508 million par value of the U." almost always lumped together with actual tangible investments in the "property account" as published. Ben devised a series of formulas to work back from three items-taxes. These findings were the basis for an article in The Magazine of Wall Street. for example." giving the wisdom of this precocious 25-year old. Word of Ben's success with arbitrage and hedging operations spread." Subsequently U. Editor Powers said: "Ben. S. A standard 8 . a 25 percent share in the cumulative net profits. It looks as if you've done the whole thing with mirrors. Ben's computations proved remarkably correct. allowed a credit of a certain percentage on tangible invested capital. it is also an attractive speculation. S. This led to an unexpected use of the tax figures. earning power had begun to become the most significant factor affecting a stock's price and asset values were much less important. and the property account-to determine how much of the property account was in the goodwill category. pretax income. nobody around here can make head or tail of your formulas. But.conclusions. The accuracy of his calculations was not publicly available for many years-until most corporations finally started to write off the more imaginary intangibles embedded in their balance sheets." Beginning in 1913 and throughout World War I. patents and so forth. however. The same year Ben wrote three pamphlets "Lessons for Investors. but only a minor allowance for intangibles such as goodwill. It also contained the novel statement that "if a common stock is a good investment. we'll publish it anyway." This episode led to a long-lasting business and personal association in which Mr. Marony became a substantial investor and director in Graham-Newman Corporation and III Government Employees Insurance Company. By then. as sole manager. Ben's computations." Although the published figures available could have been misleading. At that time the typical corporate balance sheet contained a large amount of "goodwill. The extent of "goodwill" or "water" was a jealously-guarded secret. and several clients opened accounts that allowed him. Steel wrote down $769 million of "goodwill" and similar intangibles by using many years of retained earnings. I wish our showing was a better one. tax laws and tax regulations became increasingly complicated as well as onerous.

The syndicate sold out and Ben's share was nearly $7. This happened during the week of Ben's 25th birthday. and enthusiasm on the part of the public.500. this procedure guaranteed a satisfactory profit no matter whether the stock rose. The postwar bull market of 1919 was a typical bull market of the times-marked by manipulations by insiders. Four weeks after the original Savold Tire deal. an enthusiastic bull on the stock. This valuable lesson has yet to be learned by amateur investors. plus less risk of loss. Later. One of the speculative favorites of the time was Consolidated Textile. corresponding amounts of stock were sold short. while the seven percent convertible bonds were refinanced and redeemed at a premium above par value. ignorance. In spite of his usual common sense. greed prevailed. or remained constant. as the common rose in price. Promotly a check was received for the initial 9 . the next deal came along. Consolidated Textile common fell from 70 to 20. Savold Tire was formed to exploit a patented process for retreading automobile tires. Ben put in $2. had purchased large quantities of the common for his customers. The parent decided to license its process to affiliates in the various states and these companies would sell stock to the public. remembering his experience with the Tassin account. Within a year. Ben pointed out that the convertible bonds had the same potential for profit as the stock.operation was the purchase of convertible bonds near par value and the simultaneous sale of calls on an equivalent amount of common. assuring a good profit. As the premium prices then received for puts and calls were substantial. the stock sold short and a put also sold.500. Ben came through the dangerous period of 1919-1921 quite well. Ben was not completely immune to the then current nonsense. In April of 1919.000 participation in the syndicate that subscribed to shares at 20 and saw the stock open on the Curb Exchange at 50 and then rise to 60. a recent conglomeration of cotton mills whose convertible seven percent bonds appeared sufficiently safe to buy. New York Savold Tire was organized. The friend good naturedly offered to let him in on the next deal. plus the usual greed. A few days later trading began at 24 and then rose to 37 amid considerable excitement. At times the market would be stronger for puts and then the bonds would be bought. This time some of Ben's friends joined in a $20. fell. His accounts concentrated on arbitrage and hedging operations. and the syndicate subscribed at 10. A friend had been in a syndicate that bought privately Ertel Oil common at $3 per share and after a few weeks began trading the stock publicly in the over-the-counter market at $8 per share. One of the firm's senior partners. The partner said his customers liked an active stock rather than a bond.

Ohio Savold. In a week. justified the product's legitimacy. The group waited for Pennsylvania Savold to begin trading. Most of the brokerage firms. came the next month. but this was a small one with no room for Ben's group. Then the investors would be entitled to a six percent return. This continued for a few weeks until all the Savold issues collapsed completely. and Ben said he wouldn't have dreamt of asking for one. Apparently nobody complained to the district attorney's office about this swindle-nor about similar swindles. A third company. The New York Stock Exchange had tightened its rules on the amount of capital required by member firms. disappearing forever. Ben "neither understood nor approved of this artistic restraint.000 account and. Then a very large deal was concocted. He would receive a salary of $10. the subsequent success of retreading companies.contribution plus 150 percent in profits. Pennsylvania Savold. as it had been decided that more than four Savold companies would be cumbersome. Ben could bring in other accounts as part of the original capital. such as Bandag. however. Ironically. condoned manipulation and did virtually nothing to protect the public or often themselves against gross abuses similar to the Savold Tire swindle. The original Savold was strong. No accounting came with the check. reaching a peak of 77%. There was a slight delay. it fell by 30 percent. this time. if the results warranted it. this would be increased greatly. This was to be the last in the series with rights to the process in the remaining 46 states. BEN BECOMES A PORTFOLIO MANAGER Some of Ben's friends were so impressed with his approach to investments that in early 1923 they proposed a $250. The friend brought Ben along to a meeting with the Savold promoter. Their volume of business had been greatly expanding and Ben's arbitrage operations required more capital 10 . to let Ben leave.200 in 1977 dollars). but prepared to profit to the hilt from this last gorgeous opportunity. Newburger. who was pressured into turning over cash and shares in some other promotions that at least gave back to the victims of the Savold Tire promotion one-third of their "investment". Ben would be entitled to a 20 percent share in profits beyond that. Wall Street firms behaved ethically in the execution of their customer's orders and in their dealings with other firms. however.000 for this venture." Ben's circle of friends combined to send in $60. and the bull market continues strong with great emphasis on stocks of the rankest speculative flavor.000 per year ($34. Henderson & Loeb agreed. It is now August 1919.

In time. in return for doing his business through Newburger. One of the characteristics of popular issues is that such a stock may continue to remain popular and. The group grew tired of fighting the trend. Henderson & Loeb.000 loss. They agreed to let Ben continue to use an office at the firm. Grahar Corporation operated for two and one-half years until the end of 1925. Time went by.than they could now supply. and the simultaneous short sale of seven times as many shares of General Motors common. this anomaly ended with the market price of Du Pont rising to reflect the value of the chemical business as well as its GM holding. it was decided to sell short a few hundred shares of Shattuck Corp. overvalued instead of returning to a more normal price. At that time Du Pont was selling for no more than the value of its General Motors holdings. 1923 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 95. they all felt that it was not right to support Schrafft's with their business. 11 .. The first trades were the purchase of Du Pont common. Accordingly. Investments were limited to arbitrage operations and to the purchase of securi ties that appeared to be greatly undervalued. but Shattuck common continued to go up. It began operations on June 1. Ben prided himself on his ability to recognize overvalued stocks as well as undervalued issues. and then dissolved with a good percentage appreciation--the Dow Jones Industrials having risen 79 percent during the period. The market in effect placed no value on DD's large chemical business and 0 ther assets. The only consolation was that Ben and his group were able to go back to eating lunch at Schrafft's. therefore. After the short sale. Ben had his regular weekly luncheon with the major investors at a Schrafft restaurant. the owner of the Schrafft's restaurant chain. closing out the short at a $10. He would sell short an overvalued stock and buy an undervalued one. Grahar then took its profits by selling DD and closing out the GM short position. Thus the new business was incorporated as Grahar Corporation (Louis Harris being the major investor).

S. and they mutually agreed to dissolve Grahar Corporation at the year end.500. the "Benjamin Graham Joint Account" began with capital contributed by old friends plus Ben's own funds. Ben took the train to Washington the next day. The ICC sent a 50-page blank form showing that complete details were required. 1926. The original capital was $450. 30 percent of the next 30 percent. Ben had reached the ripe age of 31.000 in three years by the" start of 1929.000 and grew to $2. THE NORTHERN PIPE LINE CONTEST One day in 1926." Ben wondered if the reports filed with the ICC might have interesting details and wrote for a blank copy of the ICC report form to see what details were asked for. Harris rejected this proposal. On January 1. Originally part of the Standard Oil Trust. Jerry Newman remained as an ever more active and valuable associate for the next 30 years until Ben retired in 1956. Each of the companies was relatively small and published a 12 . Towards the end of 1926. At the end of the volume he found some statistics about pipeline companies that had the notation: "taken from their annual reports to the Commission. but any net loss being absorbed by the customer. after the six percent allowed on capital. and 50 percent on the balance. they were spun off in 1911 as part of the U. Jerome Newman joined Ben. Many of the customers' men (today called registered representatives) ran discretionary accounts--some with profits being evenly split. This would have worked out as follows: Return on Capital 6% 26 56 100 Investors' Share 6% 22 43 65 Graham's Share 4% 13 35 Mr. He proposed a new arrangement to Lou Harris. They told Ben he was foolish to settle for 20 percent of the profits and that they could bring him accounts on a fifty-fifty basis. Eight pipeline companies were carrying crude oil to various refineries.By 1925 the bull market was well under way. Ben was looking through an annual report of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to obtain data on a railroad. with much of the gain reflecting appreciation rather than capital additions. Supreme Court antitrust decision to split up the trust. Ben would give up his salary but. Ben would receive 20 percent of the first 20 percent return. The profit-sharing terms were those Ben had proposed for Grahar.

but in which we have spent a lifetime. despite nine percent yields. had made quite a lot of money (and an unenviable reputation) by bringing suits against managements for alleged financial misdeeds. l\1any years ago one man. they might want to extend the line. At the ICC.600. and finally. only trouble was ahead.000 shares. selling at 65 and holding $95 per share of cash assets. He met the president of Northern Pipe Line at the company's office in the Standard Oil Building. Moreover. mostly in good railroad bonds. These surplus cash resources of $90 per share should be distributed to the shareholders. Ben found that all of the pipeline companies owned large amounts of investment-grade railroad bonds. By careful and persistent buying. The outstanding value was Northern Pipe Line. you should sell your shares. anyone attempting to challenge management would be characterized as a "hold-up artist. Ben was able to buy 2. The president raised a number of specious arguments as to why this was not possible: the railroad bonds were needed to cover the stock's $100 per share par value. often exceeding their own market value.one line "income account" and a very abbreviated balance sheet.000 shares of Northern Pipe Line's 40. We know better than you what is best for the company and the stockholders. Clarence Venner." Old Wall Street hands would have regarded Ben's efforts to change management's policies as either naive or suspect. no business reason seemed needed for keeping these bonds. The pipeline companies had paid even larger dividends a few years earlier before the advent of large railroad tank cars that began cutting into their business. but they gave no data for the eight pipeline companies except their brief annual reports. Two large Wall Street firms specialized in the markets for all the 31 former Standard Oil subsidiaries. The companies had relatively small gross revenues. some being only minor technical errors. It earned and paid a $6 dividend to yield nine percent. they might be needed as a source of funds when the present line would have to be replaced. "The pipeline business is a complex and specialized business about which you know very little. but wide profit margins. His parting comment was one that Ben came to hear many times.000 in bond investments when its gross revenues were only $300. making him the largest shareholder except for the Rockefeller Foundation's 23 percent interest. Therefore. Investors thought that the downtrend in earnings and dividends would continue and.000. If you don't approve of our policies." Having failed to impress the Northern Pipe Line management with the logic of the case for distributing the surplus cash assets to the 13 . Ben pointed out how unnecessary it was for Northern Pipe Line to carry $3.

Northern Pipe Line thought so little of his chances that the shareholders' list was furnished without a lawsuit. but said the Foundation never interfered in the operations of any of the companies in which it held investments. Ben began preparing for next year's meeting by buying more shares of Northern Pipe Line with the partnership's increased capital. however. with the arguments for both sides being the same as at Ben's first meeting with the president. 14 . which owned 23 percent of the stock. As this was unacceptable. Ben decided to solicit proxies in favor of a resolution to reduce the capitalization and to pay the surplus cash to shareholders. to bring someone to second his motion to present the memorandum. management utilized its employees. they indicated that they would favor a distribution of as much capital as the business could spare." He agreed to distribute $ 70 per share. The $70 distribution plus the value of Northern Pipe Line afterwards exceeded $100 per share. including any two from the rebels. Each side sent out letters requesting proxies. compared with the initial market price of 65 when Ben began his campaign. Pennsylvania corporations had mandatory cumulative voting so that it would be necessary to have the votes of one-sixth of the shares in order to elect one director to the five-person board. He also sought to elect two members to the board. except Ben. he attended the meeting in January 1927 at Oil City. Pennsylvania. we merely felt the time wasn't appropriate. Ben had neglected. the president invited Ben to his office and told him: "We really were never opposed to your idea of returning capital to the stockholders. Because proxy solicitation firms did not exist.shareholders. Ben became the first person not directly affiliated with the Standard Oil system to be elected a director of one of the affiliates. At the 1928 annual meeting. no doubt since the Rockefeller Foundation had a number of uses for the surplus funds. the single slate included Ben and one of the lawyers. It was later learned that when the Rockefeller Foundation returned their proxy to management. He listened courteously. The president suggested that a single slate of directors be named. Ben asked if he could present his argument at the annual meeting. guaranteeing the election of two directors. Ben came supplied with proxies for 38 percent of the shares. Subsequently. Surprisingly. A lawyer of great ability and prominence was retained. Ben and his associates visited the larger shareholders. Thus. and the meeting was adjourned after a few perfunctory actions. A few weeks after the meeting. He was even able to arrange an interview with the financial advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation. Accordingly. the other pipeline companies made similar distributions of surplus capital to shareholders.

National Transit Company. To counter Ben's proposal to distribute their surplus cash. and Ben felt uneasy at being part of a conspiracy to end the career of a man who had never done him any harm. At the annual meeting he saw for the first time the president of Unexcelled. a substantial distribution of cash was made to shareholders. became as popular as the giant companies. emphasis was focused on certain popular issues. many smaner companies with short but exceptional growth records received the attention of speculators and manipulators. All three of Bernard Baruch's brothers made the not surprising choice of becoming Wall Street brokers. with the old president being replaced by a capable vice president and Ben joining the company as a part-time Financial Vice President. Other 15 . Hentz & Co. management came up with a plan to use it in a rather unproductive manner. The price of 9 was less than working capital and only 6 times earnings. National Transit operated a pipeline and also manufactured pumps. Baruch. Lesser-known stocks in promising industries. which appealed to his keen sense of security values. These were in the same building with the main office of H.MEETING THE BARUCHS As the Benjamin Graham Joint Account continued to prosper in other operations. Baruch gave Ben the use of his fully manned yacht for a week--with Ben inviting some of his friends for a luxurious week. The partnership took 10. Herman Baruch. Henderson & Loeb into its own offices. yet shifting demand and legal restrictions on the use of fireworks kept this investment from being a success. Herman Baruch and his clients joined in the purchase of National Transit shares and. In gratitude Dr. one of whose senior partners was· Dr. such as electric utilities and chemicals. Also. it was necessary to move from the small office at Newburger. Ben recommended a number of other issues to Bernard M. after some prodding from the Rockefeller Foundation. Ben's special interests became well known on Wall Street.. The purchase of this block would also enable a change in control.000 shares and sought to place the balance in "good hands. The change in control took place as scheduled. the nation's leading fireworks company." Bernard Baruch had become increasingly interested in Ben's type of operations and agreed to buy the balance of the block of Unexcelled. who had founded the company and run it for 25 years. One day a trader from a large over-the-counter firm came to Ben with an elaborate proposition to buy a large block of Unexcelled Manufacturing Company. At this time Ben began buying shares in another former Standard Oil subsidiary. During the hull market of the late 1920's.

Baruch commented that it was ridiculous for short-term interest rates to be eight percent while the Dow Jones Industrials provided only a two percent yield.substantial companies. as well as capital gains. Many major investment trusts were formed in the 1920's. but 1927 provided an encouraging 32 percent return. Both agreed that the market had advanced to inordinate heights and. it would ultimately end in a major crash. and Heywood & Wakefield. Among these were Plymouth Cordage.000 and thus saw no reason to be a junior partner even to the eminent Bernard M. the Dow had only a nominal gain. The year 1928 was the last full year of the bull market. Baruch invited Ben to his office. THE DELUGE The Benjamin Graham J oint Account began with $450. despite his accurate projection.000 at the start of 1926 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 157. "I'm now 57 and it's time to slow up a bit and let a younger man like you share my burdens and my profits.500. For the first time in his life he wanted a partner. even below their minimum values as judged by ordinary standards. Actually. however. fell outside these favored categories and sold at bargain-counter prices. Pepperell Manufacturing Co. 16 . Ben replied: "By the law of compensation." Although this was most gratifying to one's ego. he did not realize that all operations involving borrowing. would be affected by the ultimate collapse. This excellent record led to an even more exciting proposal. one to manage a large new investment trust. Bernard Baruch bought substantial amounts of these issues. with the shareholder holding a pro rata share in this unchanging list. Ben realized that it was strange that.000. Baruch. In 1926. the leader in the baby carriage industry. someday the reverse should happen. One day in 1929. Ben had just completed a year in which his personal net profit was over $600. each selling below working capital.. The first were fixed trusts with a specified and fixed portfolio of common stocks. confirming the soundness of Ben's analyses. with a 51 percent return for the Dow Jones Industrials and a 60 percent return for the Joint Accoun t. including his own. after Ben's share that exceeded $600. with such frenzied speculation. Baruch egotistically believed that his concurrence was a sufficient reward for Ben's efforts.000." Some years later after the crash when the law of compensation took effect. The Benjamin Graham Joint Account ended that year at $1. with new capital coming into the account. this was really not greatly different from the index funds of today.

In addition. $4.5 million of other securities were held on which $2 million was borrowed. The details of organizing the trust delayed the initial sale for some months and when September came. These adaptations of the basic hedging operation increased profits during a hull market. closing out the short positions in the common.Next. but holding on to the preferred. which would supply adequate compensation for all concerned. hut also created risks that were not present in fully hedged positions.5 million. recording large profits.5 million of equity. In addition. investment trusts were formed that could be managed. the 1929 stock market crash ended any possibility for establishing the Hentz-Graham Fund. as well as commissions on the sale of shares in the trust plus commissions on the trust's business. but rather issues that had in trinsic values above their market prices. Many of the participants in the fund had their own margin 17 . Hentz partners thought they should have an investment trust and that Ben Graham should run it. In weak markets the common would decline faster than the preferred stock and they would undo the hedge at a good profit. about where it was at the start of the year. patterned after the investment trusts that had long operated successfully in England. This would usually involve the purchase of the preferred at a higher price than the price at which it was sold earlier. The Joint Account ended the year with a loss of 20 percent. The Account had a large number of arbitrage and hedging operations involving long positions of $2. As the market collapsed in the final months of 1929. However. The hedge operations generally involved the purchase of a convertible preferred and a short sale of the equivalent amount of common. the capital was $2. as compared with a 15 percent decline for the Dow Jones Industrials. Ben did not sell the related convertible preferreds since their prices seemed too low. In most cases. The speculative atmosphere of the late 1920's led many investment banking firms to launch their own investment trusts-to obtain management fees. however. Thus they came to adopt a policy of only partially undoing the hedging operation when the stocks declined. they found that oftentimes the market would recover and they would reinstate the position by buying the convertible preferred once again and selling more common. They were planning a $25 million fund. selling short only half as much common as would be required for a complete hedge. The H. Ben had enough to do to keep up with the Joint Account. At mid-1929.5 million and an equal amount of short positions. Ben covered a large part of the short position. These securities were not Wall Street favorites. leaving $2. they began to go in for partial hedges.

that Mr. Ben's main effort was to reduce the margin debt without sacrificing too much of the values inherent in the portfolio. and then said with great earnestness: Mr. some recovery developed and most investors believed the worst was over. Mr. The only one to make a new investment in the fund during these difficult years was Jerry Newman's father-in-law. John Dix. Dix asked a great number of penetrating questions. leaving a large long position in securities whose declining market values were accentuated by the substantial margin debt of the Joint Account. The record of the accoun t during the crash was as follows: Benjamin Graham Ioint Account 1929 1930 1931 1932 For entire period -20% -50 -16 . A number of the participants withdrew all or part of their capital at various year-ends. I want you to do something of the greatest importance. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I were in your position. He had already covered nearly all of the short positions. the market continued its recovery. of course. In early 1930.accounts that had experienced much greater losses.3 -70% Dow Jones Industrials -15% -29 -48 -17 -74% S&P 500 . Ben thanked the old gentleman and said he would consider his advice. Near the close of the year. It turned out. All through this period. Sell out your securities. he then thought the advice was preposterous. as Mr. Payoff your debts and return the capital to the partners in the Joint Account.7% -25 -44 . Dix was probably not far from his dotage and could not possibly have really understood Ben's methods. 1930 was to prove to be the most disastrous year in all of Ben's active career. Dix was absolutely right and Ben should have been content to keep his position as a "near-millionaire. displaying a keen mind." The market recovery continued through April but then the market headed down again. a successful retired businessman. 18 . He met a 93 year old man. Get on the train to New York tomorrow.8 -64% From 1930 on. Actually. Graham. Ben went down to Florida in January. quarterly distributions of 1 ~4 percent of capital were made. but soon the economic picture clouded over. Thus.

Dodd. Ben taught a two-hour course one evening a week on current investments using rigorous security analysis. and in 1928 began a 28-year career as a lecturer in the evening division of the School of Business Administration. Columbia. Ben enjoyed being challenged by a wide range of questions. Ben decided to write a book to impart his knowledge of the investment world. A TEACHING CAREER BEGINS In 1925. which he used to present to the class the general principles of finance and security analysis. a fairly important fraction of the working statisticians or analysts then on Wall Street. who enrolled in Ben's first class in order to gain practical insights. news of the practical value of the class spread and enrollment grew rapidly. A number of finance majors attended. his show of confidence enabled him to reap a large reward when the recovery began. As stock market volume and prices rose. fully documented with relevant data. By 1929. For example. However. as well as faculty members such as David L. Considering the fact that the Benjamin Graham Joint Account began this period with approximately 44 percent margin debt. Most of his students worked on Wall Street and attended because Ben's teaching worked in actual practice. Thus. Most Wall Streeters who were interested in teaching became associated with New York University's Graduate School of Finance. the degree of speculative distortion was brought home to the entire class. was directed to the blackboard to compute the total market value for the outstanding warrants. When this calculation indicated that the market value for the warrants exceeded the market value for the entire Pennsylvania Railroad. warrants. keeping the fund alive was a great achievement. in one 1929 class a student.Since this was near the low point. both popular and unpopular securi ties were used as illustrations. Typically. the class reached its peak attendance of over 150 students. he thought it would first be best to organize his material and to see how it could be used most effectively. The small losses of 1931 and 1932 were especially impressive. Some of the students returned year after year in order to ask questions about important topics of the day. however. performance equal to the Standard & Poor's would have wiped out the account sometime in 1930. after eleven years on Wall Street. bullish on American and Foreign Power Co. Ben. applied at his alma mater. At that time the Pennsylvania Railroad common was an investment quality 19 . He had the inspiration to start teaching if he could. because of the convenient location. He presented actual case studies only to develop proven theorems.

Ben understood the merits of the Socratic method. He knew the superior results that would come from study and participation on the part of the student. So many successful people from the world of finance were attracted to this class that Columbia's Business School grew in stature as the achievements of the faculty became better known in the financial community. Thus. and Irving 20 . Ben so enjoyed teaching that often he would remain after class for half an hour or longer responding to questions from his fascinated students. such as a slice of cake. preparing statistical analyses for use in classroom discussions as well as guiding and marking studies and exams. Many wanted his keen mind to review issues they believed worthy of consideration. using it to re-examine his own conclusions as harshly as those of the students. Irving Kahn became Ben's assistant. the senior author of this sketch still remembers that a tranche is a portion of an underwriting. you might have soon forgotten it. adding his penetrating questions and comments with everyone free to attack or defend the methods and conclusions. now known as the New York Institute of Finance. realized that the disoriented markets of those times were creating many buying opportunities. Often. One day Irving asked: "This ad shows a $10 million tranche of a French Government issue being offered. Steve Jaquith. Ben chose to withhold his own reply. Even in as mundane a topic as definitions. and analysts. Shrewd Wall Streeters. Around 1931. He believed that a teacher should stimulate and guide the student with questions. brokers. These classes in security analysis were held continuously until Ben's retirement from Wall Street in 1956. Ben said: "If I told you the answer. The depression years thinned the ranks of bankers. Then Ben would bring it before the entire class. Over the years thousands came to Ben's class and to hear him analyze undervalued securities. Irving would organize the team to prepare a plan for a thorough review of the topic and would coordinate preparation of the written report. a question on the merits of land trust certificates might result in a team of four or five students being assigned to prepare an evaluation report. Ben never believed in supplying a ready answer. however. What does tranche mean?" Ben pointed to the dictionary. which defined "tranche" as a slice. Simultaneously Ben found time to teach for a decade at the New York Stock Exchange's School. while American and Foreign Power was a holding company newly formed to pyramid a leveraged public utility empire.stock. when a question was asked. His lectures on security analysis were adapted into a correspondence course by Walter Morris. so that the student not only was exposed to the answer but remembered how the answer was reached." Some 45 years later.

described later in this narrative. Despite the economic.Kahn. It has become the basic text for the teaching and practice of two generations of security analysts. and political chaos at home and abroad. The authors prepared a Table of Contents and a sample chapter. He became a friend of the New School's President. No other single course reached or held so large a student body as this one. In 1934.000 copies to date (the Graham/Dodd/Cottle fourth edition was printed in 1962). Ben would be the senior author and write the entire text in his style. much of the comparative analysis done by students at Columbia was incorporated into the book. Ben had adjusted the Joint Account to a secure position and began searching for lessons from the stock market crash. participating in an informal group meeting weekly to discuss possible solutions to the economic crisis. A. It was time to set to work on the writing of the textbook that he had first projected six years earlier. Professor Dodd agreed to collaborate on the book. Ben also presented a series of lectures at the New School for Social Research. Professor Dodd would make suggestions. rather than the standard contract that started at 10 percent. financial. Among the members of the group were William McChesney Martin. and a great many other distinguished and thoughtful leaders. Security 21 . check the numerous facts and references. It would be hard to overestimate the significance of this text that has sold over 100. and work up tables. and the overwhelming disillusionment at that time with American enterprise and the investment community. Ben concluded that the stock market was placing an inordinately low value on American business. a year and a half later. This material remains as the heart of the course still being offered by the New York Institute of Finance. SECURITY ANALYSIS By 1932. A. In June 1932. Berle. The authors began work and. McGraw-Hill retained a Harvard professor of finance to review this proposal and were so impressed with his recommendation that they offered a straight 15 percent royalty. the first edition of Security Analysis was printed. During 1931-1933. with Irving as a research assistant. Alvin Johnson. he wrote a series of three articles for Forbes magazine under the title "Is American Business Worth More Dead Than Alive?" Over 40 percent of the stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange were selling at less than their net working capital and many were selling below even their cash assets. The contract was signed near the close of 1932. These efforts led to Ben's development of an important economic theory.

a maker of chains. S. EARNING A LIVING The halcyon days of 1928." It is beyond the scope 0 l' this biographical sketch to examine all the original and radical concepts outlined in this pioneering book. all past losses had been made good. During these difficult years. Ben spent a considerable amount of time as an expert witness. The case involved the valuation for the Federal estate tax of the controlling block of stock in Whitney Manufacturing Co. because they represented the controlling interest. Because their unique profit sharing arrangement was a cumulative one.000. the terms were revised. 1936. Ben testified that the shares should be valued as a private business. Treasury Department had asked the School of Business at Columbia to recommend an expert. Ben and Jerry Newman went five years without any payment for their work. Professor James Bonbright of 22 . In that year. He estimated that the minimum liquidating value of the business was its net working capital. following discussion with some of the larger investors.Analysis presented a well-reasoned and well-organized case for the great investment opportunities then open to those competent to learn its teachings. This figure was substantially in excess of the stock market quotation. because the Internal Revenue Service questioned whether the Joint Account really qualified as a partnership or whether it was a quasi-corporation. Graham-Newman Corporation was formed to succeed the partnership as 0 f January 1. Because of the drastic price decline. reducing the share of Ben and Jerry to a straight 20 percent of profits earned after January 1. with no allowance for plant or equipment.. Because of his obvious abilities in valuation cases. The U. preparing studies and testifying on complicated cases requiring professional valuation. most of which have become so well accepted that it is difficult to imagine why they once were not obvious to the entire investment community. 1934. Typical of Ben's wide erudition and sense of the timeless qualities of great philosophy is its opening quotation from Horace: "Many shall be restored that now are fallen and many shall fall that are now in favor. The Tax Court agreed with Ben. The executors claimed that the stock market quotation at the date of the owner's death in 1932 was the proper basis for determining the value. One partner suggested a revision be made and. the fund's capital would have to triple before they would be eligible to start sharing again. when Ben's share of the Joint Account's profits exceeded $600. By the end of 1935. were long past. Ben served as an expert witness in some 40 cases.

Ben's thorough preparation gave him the sound basis for confident rebuttal of these courtroom attempts. He came to the conclusion that the chief cause was the lack of sufficient purchasing power to absorb the increased production that had resulted from the previous boom. Ben was often subjected to several days of extensive cross-examination by the opposition as they tried to expose any errors or uncertainties in his presentation. The standard compensation was $100 per day for preparation ($460 in 1977 dollars) and $250 for each day in court. fell precipitously in 1921-1922. The gold content of the dollar would be changed under this plan to compensate for changes in purchasing power. Ben decided that a preferable approach would be to give monetary status to a designated "market basket" of some 21 worldwide basic raw materials. The best known was Irving Fisher's proposal for a compensated dollar. Ben thought a great deal about the origins of business cycles and possible ways of ameliorating them. and accompanied by unusual stability in prices. Producers of these commodities could sell them as a package to the Treasury Department in much the same manner as gold. Thomas A.Columbia had written the standard text on property valuation and often asked that Ben serve as a companion witness in complicated cases where Ben's practical experience confirmed the professor's theory. Then Ben came across J. Some months later. Edison devised a somewhat similar plan based upon farm commodities that would be sold to the Treasury at a fixed price. Ben did nothing to promote his plan. with a great expansion in business volume. A. BEN BECOMES AN ECONOMIC THEORETICIAN Everyone in the investment community is forced to pay attention to broad economic developments.) Prices. During the depression of 1921-1922. Ben regarded these rates as generous. The economic recovery of the mid-1920's then got under way. Many plans were advanced for stabilizing the general level of prices. 23 . Ben was busy with his investment activities. which had set forth this thesis some years earlier. Hobson's classic The Economics of Unemployment. then exchangeable for the dollar at a fixed rate or gold point. requiring days of preparation. after a sharp rise during World War I and in that postwar boom. Since the dollar amounts at stake were large. Many of the cases involved the valuation of railroad property for property taxes or reorganizations and were most complex. (Hobson's book was an important precursor of John Maynard Keynes.

Low interest rate loans from the Federal Government to the unemployed. President Alvin Johnson of the New School had formed a small group who met weekly to consider ways to improve "the sorry scheme of things. Ben became friends with Professor Goudriaan. in general. Slum clearance and subsidized low-cost housing. Then Louis Bean." This pamphlet was little known and Ben did not hear of it for several years.During the deep depression years of 1931 and 1932. 4. The Commodity Credit Corporation had been formed to support farm prices and had acquired large quantities of farm products. The Econom£c Forum. Jan Goudriaan. Roosevelt. Ben circulated a mimeographed memorandum to the group advocating four plans: 1. in a 1932 pamphlet "How to Stop Deflation. as he believed that it would have added elements of both reality and gaiety into the rather metaphysical financial relations of the two countries. Bean thought that Ben's plan might be used as a method of financing the food surpluses. Ben gave a copy of his plan to a friend of Franklin D. Ben in a 1933 issue of the journal expanded upon his Commodity-Reserve Plan in an article "Stabilized Reflation. 3. it had been independently arrived at by a Professor of Economics at the University of Rotterdam. Ben restudied his commodity-reserve plan. 24 . The Commodity-Reserve Plan. As mentioned. with the added benefit of stimulating prices. These were certainly innovative and radical plans for the laissez-faire philosophy of those years." a phrase from the Ruba£yat they chose to describe the situation. Joseph Mead and William McChesney Martin. Ben continued to work on the plan. Nothing happened for two years. Finally he was satisfied. In time. 2. The friend sent word that it was receiving serious consideration in Washington. launched a quarterly journal. by increasing the quantity of money in circulation. Provision for France to meet its World War I debts with 40 million bottles of wine per year-providing one bottle for each American voter. compiling a sizable statistical base to lend credence to its practicality. economic adviser to Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace." While this concept had not been presented in the United States before then. visited Ben. Two of the young men in the group. Ben was disappointed that his fourth plan did not receive much consideration.

Graham should know that neither businessmen with millions of dollars invested In Nicaraguan bananas nor 25 . McGraw-Hill had justifiable doubts about the commercial success of the book but. were glad to accommodate the senior author of Security Analysz:5. referred to from time to time by eminent economists. Mr. in any case. Ben exchanged a number of letters with John Maynard Keynes on this and other economic topics. because each commodity could fluctuate in price. The plan received considerable attention from economists. it remains as one of the basic concepts in this area of economic theory. his play "Baby Pompadour" appeared on Broadway. If this plan for linking commodities and currencies had been adopted. the Federal Government started building stockpiles of strategic materials. it might have helped to avoid the extremes of price inflation in the mid-1970's. In preparation for World War II. Ben continued his studies in economics and in 1944 published World Commodities and World Currency. and Ben provided him with a set of galley proofs so that Baruch could speed these to President Roosevelt. As a well-known figure in the financial world. The critic for the New York Times had the following comments to make: If one of Mr. It also avoided the problem of trying to stabilize the price of a single commodity. Graham's students at Columbia University were to turn in an essay on security analysis as trite and diffused in its substance as this little play of his about a nationally famous journalist whose editorial policies are influenced by a moronic chorus-girl mistress. The plan's chief merit was in providing a link between the real world in which major commodities are used and the world of money creation. becoming a larger or smaller component of the "market basket" reflecting supply and demand changes. then the student would undoubtedly receive a D minus--and for very good reason. Keynes agreed with the main goals of Ben's plan. BROADWAY Ben's love of reading the world's classics--often in their original language-led him to write a play. too. While the plan has not been adopted. a volume detailing many of the problems with world currencies. Bernard Baruch discussed the plan most enthusiastically. a policy still maintained. In the same year (1934) that the first edition of Security Analysis was published.publishing in 1937 the book Storage and Stability.

with extensive revisions and the addition of new current case studies. she established an award for the 26 . under the title "True to the Marines. Helen had a particular favorite. It also proved useful to security analysts and others working in the investment world. Finance students throughout the nation had to absorb the Benjamin Graham approach during their university years and. the only humor in his comedy comes during those pathetic moments when the unfortunate actors--who are here spared the humiliation of identification-find themselves with nothing more to do than laugh at their own pitiful jokes. Ben was a prolific writer. BUILDING A PROFESSION Over the 50-year period from the start of his teaching career at Columbia and continuing up until his death. New materials further increased its usefulness. and in 1940 the second edition was published. The play ran for only four performances and its second try. Ben was encouraged by the growing number of analysts who made thorough and objective studies of companies and industries. The Interpretation text was written with Charles McGolrick and was aimed at helping the businessman interpret financial statements. Its cases and conclusions restored thcir sense of proportion when the market went into speculative excesses. both shared a weakness for cats. He contributed profusely to The Analysts Journal (Financial Analysts Journal beginning in 1960)." was not successful. Mr. Security A nalysis continued to do well.Under-Secretaries of State act and talk like a cartoonist's caricature-not even when they're serious. He wrote the popular The Interpretation of Financial Statements in 1937. After the cat's demise. Her brilliant mind encouraged a number of contributions from Ben. His writing appeared in the first few issues in 1946 under the pseudonym of "Cogitator" and thereafter at frequent intervals under his own name. in whose name she purchased several stocks. they reread the "Bible" of Graham & Dodd to renew their analytical fundamentals during periods of adversity. Ben devoted most of his waking hours to the education of the "new generation of security analysts" to whom his text was dedicated. Also. Graham had better stick to one thing or the other-or find himself a new hobby. Alexander. Helen Slade was the guiding spirit behind the Journal. the same year that Storage and Stability appeared. after entering the investment world. Alas.

It was necessary to spin off 1." Ben never did make his mind up as to whether or not it was an honor to ascend to Alexander's place.08 shares of GEICO for each share of Graham-Newman Corp. often refining his presentation in the Financial Analysts Journal. He addressed a number of F. Ben kept uncovering undervalued special situations. Then he worked on the Third Edition of Security Analysis. After negotiations. conferences in the years following. Ben in 1949 wrote The Intelligent Investor. Ben addressed the conference on the need for greater professionalism. as compared with a 33 percent advance for the Standard & Poor's Industrials. The two lists of special situations in the 1940 edition of Security Analysis advanced an average of 252 percent in the following eight years. or nearly one-quarter of the Graham-Newman assets. The market value at that time (July 2. The stock market was in a general uptrend from 1942 until Ben retired in 1956. it was not permissible to own more than 10 percent of an insurance company.349 at the peak in 1972 and still stood at $2. except for a basic reaction in 1946 and downward drift to 1949. probably culminating in an examination to qualify candidates for a professional designation such as was the case in other professions. Recognizing the need to bring his approach to the attention of the astute layman.08 shares. under the Investment Company Act. with the balance owned by a Fort Worth banker who was the anxious seller to the Graham-Newman Corporation. Government Employees Insurance Company. 1948) was $27 for the 1. because. This eventually grew to $16.year's best article in the Journal and titled it the "Alexander Award. He pointed out the necessity of an organized study program. the title of the award was changed to the "Graham & Dodd Award. The Financial Analysts Federation held its first annual conference in 1947.407 at the close of 1976--nearly 90 times the starting point. GEICO had been founded in 1936 in Texas by Leo Goodwin. THE GEICO STORY In 1948. who had a 25 percent interest." In later years after Helen Slade's death. The basic concept was that automobile insurance could be 27 .F. the fund bought a half-interest in the company offered for sale. which came out in 1951. Again the text was brought up-to-date with new and original material covering situations confronting investors at that time. a Washington lawyer and a bond salesman from Baltimore called at the Graham-Newman Corporation office with a special situation for sale. The cost was $720.000.A.

GEICO continues to have one of the lowest cost distribution systems in the industry. had 28 . However. growth and profitability continued at an exceptional pace until GEICO became the nation's fifth largest automobile insurer. GEICO was now so large that insurance commissioners would grant rates aimed at producing only a five percent underwriting margin. A great many changes have been made and it is expected that 1977 will see GEICO return to profitability. essentially repeating the same processes for selecting undervalued securities. The policies were available only to government employees.sold by direct mail to the consumer at a reduced rate." FAREWELL TO NEW YORK Ben's personality required a stream of new challenges. it was decided to offer insurance to professional. as no commissions had to be paid to insurance agents. In the following years. The Graham-Newman Corporation continued to prosper. a group that fortunately averaged fewer claims than most. The company had exceptional growth during its first dozen years and this continued after the Graham-Newman purchase. Starting in 1974 costs rose as inflation accelerated. None of Ben's five children were interested in entering the investment world and Jerry Newman's son. In 1958. and Criterion Insurance). Government Employees Financial Corp. but for Graham-Newman investors it has been most profitable with very substantial dividends over the years plus interests in three GEICO affiliates (Government Employees Life Insurance Company. Again. investment also blunted much of his never very great desire for financial success. managerial. Howard Newman. Ben summed up the fact that the decision to buy the half-interest in GEICO brought in vastly more profits than all of his other investments combined as follows: "An obvious (moral) is that there are several different ways to make and keep money in Wall Street. The long-term future of the company still has to be determined. as well as government employees. technical and administrative workers.. the days of 15 percent underwriting profit margins were over. these new policyholders also turned out to be preferred risks. The fabulous success of the Government Employees Insurance Co. Adding in the problems of no-fault insurance and low rates. with expense ratios at 14 percent as compared with the industry's 28 percent ratio. the same rates granted to other large insurance companies. losses skyrocketed and GEICO's net worth dropped from $144 million at the start of 1975 to $37 million at the end of the year. This broadened the market from 15 percent of car owners to 50 percent.

As Ben phrased it. Nearly a decade was spent in Los Angeles and at UCLA before the final move to apartments in La Jolla. "I-low long will such 'fire-sale stocks' continue to be given away?" The conduding question at the session was: "Mr. Ben immediately replied: "Walpole said that the thinking man looks at the world and sees a comedy. are you amused or disappointed that it takes a real bear market for analysts to be interested in your value approach towards investment?". Professor Shelton decided on the spot that there must be more to security analysis than he thought. visiting children and friends along the way. He had a rather jaundiced view of the intellectual capacities of most Wall Streeters and assumed that Ben was a typical example but felt an obligation to take Ben to lunch. Professor Shelton introduced one of his colleagues. presented to Ben at the Annual Conference of The Financial Analysts Federation.F . the feeling man looks at the world and sees a tragedy. Professor John Shelton tells the story about his first meeting with Ben. When asked in 1974 to be the main speaker at a C. he began a new association as an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the University of California at Los Angeles. Ben's message was to select some of the many issues then available at prices dearly low by all reasonable valuation standards. while moving to their table." The following year saw the highest award of the profession. mentioning that he was writing a book on one of the modem Spanish poets. At the UCLA Faculty Club. in 1956. the Molodovsky Award. Seminar entitled The Renaissance of Value. Ben never regretted his move to California in 1956." and then proceeded to recite in Spanish one of the poet's works. The Seminar was scheduled to meet at his convenience on his fall trip from California by way of New York to Europe. Ben burst out enthusiastically: "He's one of my favorites. The cash grant that went with the award was devoted to a research project that Ben was interested in and which he hoped might eventually develop into a project for publication by The Financial Analysts Research Foundation.A. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen to near the 600 level in September 1974.become the chief executive officer of Philadelphia and Reading Company. Ben accepted enthusiastically. California for half the year and Aix-en-Provence for the balance. each of the apartments had a "glimpse of the sea" rather than a full view. they decided to liquidate the Graham-Newman Corporation. This research was aimed at developing rough filters or screens for narrowing down the universe of common stocks to a representative group of likely candidates for 29 . He continued to devote a part of his time to the investment world. Graham. Thus. At age 62. preferring a life in active corporate management.

Irving Kahn arranged a memorial service for Benjamin Graham at the Chapel of Columbia University. Ben began to test this new approach in a modest way with some California friends. While death brought this phase of his research to an end.the Dean of our profession. it nonetheless did show his continued devotion to research as displayed so well in Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor. Columbia's President. A hundred old and dose friends of Ben attended-his partner Jerome Newman. All financial analysts owe so much to the pioneering efforts and works of BenjaminGraham-~truly. David Dodd. Friends from other areas of his life also attended. A group of ten blacks from the Mt.purchase. Professor James Bonbright. William McGill. Ben's colleagues for half a century. 30 . Ben's life has affected many. Zion Baptist Church of Bridgeport. Connecticut gave homage to the stranger who made it possible for them to worship in their own church. and many from the investment and academic communities.

He actuaHy patented several versions of a simplified protractor and a circular slide rule. He had another extraordinary characteristic in the breadth and depth of his memory. Latin. but serious hobby of making improvements in the field of plane geometry. Ben was quite short. which required close and exact reasoning before accepting or rejecting either a premise or a conclusion. attracting many devoted benefactors to their good works. His speed of thought was so great that most people were puzzled at how he could resolve a complicated question directly after having heard it. but his massive head and penetrating blue eyes made people forget his diminutive stature. it is understandable that. But his real pleasure was to exercise his mind over a wide range of subjects far beyond his specialties in the world of finance. Physically. Despite these many and varied interests. In addition to this tremendous range of interests and talents. His mental training came from his rigorous study of mathematics. Ben was both a skier and a tennis player. he was able to translate a Spanish novel into literary English so professionally that it was accepted by an American publisher.SOME REFLECTIONS ON BEN GRAHAM'S PERSONALITY By Irving Kahn Most people knew Ben through his writings. He had a private. He loved to make others 31 . he had time to give to worthy charities. Spanish and German. particularly geometry. especially the major operas for the wisdom of their lyrics. He loved music. recommendations. Many of these men later became important faculty members and authors in some of our major universities. He had several outstanding characteristics. and money to get them started in America. he was really more married to his business and cultural interests than the normal husband. He became the president of the Jewish Guild for the Blind. In his early years. Those who were his students or worked with him got to know the man as well as the legend. as well as their melodies. while Ben was a devoted father. This explains why he could read Greek. He helped numerous refugees from Hitler's Germany with advice. he was a very warm man in personal relations. Even more remarkable. With so many interests. A needy colleague would always be helped-and always anonymously. without having studied Spanish formally.

In the world of finance Ben's epitaph will be as was Christopher Wren's in St. In sum. Everyone that ever had dealings with Ben came away with certain strong reactions. "If you seek his monument-look about you.laugh by means of his quick wit and large inventory of puns. Paul's." 32 . These included the uplift that comes from someone who shares your enthusiasms and hopes. in distinguishing between what was fair rather than what was self-serving. entirely objective. as well as the strong sense of a very fair mind. only those who knew him well over the years can do full justice to presenting the whole man. Ben Graham was such a rare combination of qualities.

La Jolla.AN HOUR WITH MR. I do appreciate so much being able to come and visit with you this afternoon.000. It turned out later that we were worth-the whole company--over a billion dollars in the stock market. we bought half the company for $720.. It makes me shudder to think of the amounts of money they were able to lose in one year. he suggested that I not only visit with you but also bring along my cassette tape recorder. First. When Bob Milne learned that Mrs. Jerry Newman and I became active in the conduct of GEICO. I think it will survive. We have much I would like to cover. But we were forced by the SEC to distribute the stock among our stockholders because.F. Butler. an investment fund was not allowed more than 10 percent of an insurance company. GRAHAM by Hartman L. Graham.A. Incredible! It is surprising how many of the large companies have managed to turn in losses of $50 million or $100 million in one year. Butler and I would be in La Jolla. although we both retired a number of years ago. You have to be a genius to lose that much money. but naturally I ask myself whether the company did expand much too fast without taking into account the possibilities of these big losses. 33 . C. according to a technicality in the law. lIB: Do you think GEICO will survive? Graham: Yes. 1976 lIB: Mr. California March 6. Something unheard of in the old days. Jr. in these last few years. Graham: Yes. could we start with a topical question-Government Employees Insurance Company-with GEICO being very much in the headlines. I am glad I am not connected with it now because of the terrific losses. what happened was the team came into our office and after some negotiating. This was a very extraordinary thing. There is no basic reason why it won't survive.

The next thing that was really important to me-outside of having made a rather continuous success for 15 years-was the market crash of 1929. which was sound. what are some of the key developments or key happenings. we seemed to be very brilliant people. HB: Then in 1932. which was a mistake. you began to come back? Graham: Well. By 1937. My salary was reduced to $10-that is one of the things more or less typical of any young man's beginnings. I stayed away from the speculative favorites. In 1948. were you better prepared for that? Graham: Well. From then on. We gave up certain things we had been trying to do and concentrated more on others that had been more consistently successful.HB: Looking back at your own life in the investment field. All I knew was that prices were too high. I felt I had good investments. 34 . and we followed his advice. we sweated through that period. the first thing that happened was typical. but he started selling five years earlier. The next thing that happened was World War I broke out two months later and the stock exchange was closed. we went along pretty smoothly. HB: The 1937-1938 decline. and I had to sweat through the period 1929-1932. I was paid $12 a week instead 0 f $10 to begin. we made our GEIeO investment and from then on. I didn't repeat that error after that. HB: Did anybody really see this coming-the crash of 1929? Graham: Babson did. As a special favor. We went along fine. we had restored our financial position as it was in 1929. HB: Did you see that coming at all-were you scared? Graham: No. would you say? You went to Wall Street in 1914? Graham: Well. But lowed money. that led us to make some changes in our procedures that one of our directors had suggested to us.

we had a course in security analysis and finance--I think it was called Investments-and I had 150 students. I thought that I knew enough about Wall Street after 11 years to write a book about it. HB: You earned money after World War II broke out? Graham: Yes. but we limited ourselves to a maximum of $15 million of capital-only a drop in the bucket these days. That was the time Wall Street was really booming. We were going along on what I thought was a satisfactory basis. We earned money in those years. that was only a typical setback period. we did. About 1956. In 1928. But fortunately. I decided to quit and to come out here to California to live. That's why I kind of lost interest. We had no real problems in running our business. Security Analysis? Graham: What happened was that in about 1925. and the things that presented themselves were typically repetitions of old problems which I found no special interest in solving. I became a Lecturer at the Columbia School of Business for the extension courses. HB: When did you decide to write your classic text. I felt that I had established a way of doing business to a point where it no longer presented any basic problems to be solved. we decided to liquidate Graham-Newman Corporation-to end it primarily because the succession of management had not been satisfactorily established. but annual rates of return that we were able to accomplish. so I decided I would start teaching if I could. It was not the question of total sums. I had the inspiration instead to learn more on the subject before I wrote the book. We were no longer very challenged after 1950. The question of whether we could earn the maximum percentage per year was what interested us.HB: What happened market-1940-1941 ? III the only other interim bear Graham: Oh. We could have built up an enormous business had we wanted to. We felt we had nothing special to look forward to that interested us. About SIX years later. 35 .

I feel that they are relatively unimportant. has put me opposed to developments in the whole profession. He was a student of mine in the first year.The result was it took until 1934 before I actually wrote the book with Dave Dodd. in a sense. which. Security Analysis was much more successful." It was produced twice under two titles. he was indispensable to me in writing the book. I would not deny that. The thing that I have been emphasizing in my own work for the last few years has been the group approach. I think that this is one thing an analyst can bring to the solution. Graham: Well. My recent article on three simple methods applied to common stocks was published in one of your Seminar Proceedings. to all the stocks 36 . I am just finishing a 50-year study-the application of these simple methods to groups of stocks. The main point is to have the right general principles and the character to stick to them." Yes. it came out the same time as a play of mine which was produced on Broadway and lasted only one week. Naturally. HB: You had a play on Broadway? Graham: Yes. "Baby Pompadour" or "True to the Marines. It was not successful. But I have a considerable amount of doubt on the question of how successful analysts can be overall when applying these selectivity approaches. wasn't it? Graham: They called it the "Bible of Grahf-m and Dodd. actually. HB: My own experience is that you have to be a student of industries to realize the great differences in managements. Dave was then Assistant Professor at Columbia and was anxious to learn more. Fortunately. well now I have lost most of the interest I had in the details of security analysis which I devoted myself to so strenuously for many years. HB: That was the book. To try to buy groups of stocks that meet some simple criterion for being undervalued-regardless of the industry and with very little attention to the individual company. Actually. I think we can do it successfully with a few techniques and simple principles. The First Edition appeared in 1934.

They certainly did twice as well as the Dow Jones. I want to double the interest rate in terms of earnings return. and a maximum multiple of 7 times even when interest rates are above seven percent as they are now. HB: Then with roughly a 50 percent dividend payout. Graham: Yes. My research indicates the best results come from simple earnings criterions. Grallam: Yes. you can take half of the earnings yield to estimate a substainable dividend yield. it seems to stand up under any of the tests that I would make up. But all I can tell you after 60 years of experience. One can also apply a dividend criterion or an asset value criterion and get good results. 37 . So typically my buying point would be double the current AAA interest rate with a maximum multiplier between 10 and 7. What I want is an earnings ratio twice as good as the bond interest ratio typically for most years.5 percent earnings yield rather than 40 times earnings. Graham: Imagine-there seems to be practically a foolproof way of getting good results out of common stock investment with a minimum of work. The earnings yield would be more scientific and a more logical approach. It seems too good to be true. I would try to get other people to criticize it. My research has been based on that. Consequently. I received in Chicago last year the Molodovsky Award. I found the results were very good for 50 years. Basically. in most years the interest rate was less than five percent on AAA bonds. However.in the Moody's Industrial Stock Group. HB: I have always thought it was too bad that we use the price/earnings ratio rather than the earnings yield measurement. HB: I understand that you have about completed this research. A maximum multiple of 10 even when interest rates are under five percent. And so my enthusiasm has been transferred from the selective to the group approach. It would be so much easier to realize that a stock is selling at a 2. I have set two limits.

There are certainly a lot of ways to keep busy. profits and losses. the "3M's". they say that the market is efficient in the sense that there is no particular point in getting more information than people already have. you have a dependable indication of group undervaluation? That's what our own business experience proved to us. am I right in saying if you buy stocks at two-thirds of the working capital value. I don't see how you can say that the prices made in Wall Street are the right prices in any intelligent definition of what right prices would be. because of their long-term futures or to decide that next year the semiconductor industry would be a good industry. What do you think about this? Graham: Well. that would be an interesting stock. when we talk about buying stocks. You can't lose when you do that. 38 . but the idea of saying that the fact that the information is so widely spread that the resulting prices are logical prices-that is all wrong. It's hard for me to find a good connection between what they do and practical investment results. Graham: Well. you're bound to make money. In fact. I would say that if a stock with $50 working capital sells at $32. But what everybody else is trying to do pretty much is pick out the "Xerox" companies. naturally. The second question. are there other ways of doing this? HB: Are there any other ways? Graham: Well. There are two questions about this approach. I am talking very practically in terms of dollars and cents. I am sure they are all very hardworking and serious. These don't seem to be dependable ways to do it. If you buy 30 companies of that sort. One is. HB: It is too bad there have not been more contributions from practicing analysts to provide some balance to the brilliant work of the academic community. That might be true. a number of professors started to work on the random walk.HB: By some coincidence as you were becoming less active as a writer. the thing that I have been talking about so much this afternoon is applying a simple criterion of the value of a security. mainly profits. as I do.

in a way? Graham: Well. HB: That is certainly true. say 100 or 150 stocks out of the Standard & Poor's 500. To me. Now in the group discussions of this thing. all have opinions and they are willing to express them if you ask them. would be to start with the index concept-the equivalent of index results.HB: Would you have said that 30 years ago? Graham: Well. say Standard & Poor's results. that is not a very encouraging conclusion because if I have noticed anything over these 60 years on Wall Street. I would not have taken as negative an attitude 30 years ago. They. the thing for people to do is to try to study the behavior of stock prices and try to profit from these interpretations. and economists. Then turn over to managers the privilege of making a variation. haven't they. Graham: And all you have to do is to listen to "Wall Street Week" and you can see that none of them has any particular claim to authority or opinions as to what will happen in the stock market. rather. though. I assume that basically the compensation ought to be measured by the results either in terms of equaling the index. I have a feeling that the way in which institutional funds should be managed. at least a number of them. or to the extent by which you improve it. it is that people do not succeed in forecasting what's going to happen to the stock market. the typical money managers don't accept the idea and the reason for non-acceptance is chiefly 39 . provided they would accept personal responsibility for the success of the variation that they introduced. that you could have found sufficient examples of individual companies that were undervalued. HB: The efficient market people have kind of muddied the waters. they would claim that if they are correct in their basic contentions about the efficient market. no. HB: What thoughts do you have on index funds? Graham: I have very definite views on that. But I don't think they insist that their opinions are correct. But my positive attitude would have been to say.

I have some practical advice to give you which is this. what advice would you have to a young man or woman coming along now who wants to be a security analyst and a Chartered Financial Analyst? Graham: I would tf~J1 them to study the past record of the stock market. he moved over to other fields and did an enormous amount of speculative business later. pursue that without any reference to what other people do or think or say. Stick to their own methods. and find out whether they can identify an approach to investment they feel would be satisfactory in their own case. But at least he started. intelligence. study their own capabilities. They have never been able to convince me that that's true in any significant degree-that different investors have different requirements. of course. And if they have done that. and I think satisfactory results are pretty much the same for everybody. I said to him. It did work out all right and then the big bull market came along and. Get your friends to put "x" amount of dollars a month in these closed-end companies at discounts and you will start ahead of the game and you will make out all right. That's what we did with our own business. HB: Mr. You can buy closed-end investment companies at 15 percent discounts on an average. and talk. on a sound basis. Graham. If he or she reads The Intelligent Investor-which I feel would be more useful than Security Analysis of the two books-and selects from what we say some approach which one thinks would be profitable. And if you start on a sound basis. "Dick. then I say that one should do this and stick to it. would indicate that one could have done as well with Standard & Poor's than with a great deal of work. So I think any experience of the last 20 years. 40 . We never followed the crowd. he did do that-he had no great difficulty in starting his business on that basis. All investments require satisfactory results." Well. you are half-way along. and I think that's favorable for the young analyst. let's say. I think.that they say-not that it isn't practical-but that it isn't sound because different investors have different requirements. I had a nephew who started in Wall Street a number of years ago and came to me for some advice.

the English economist. the growth cult. HB: This has been a most pleasant and stimulative visit. We will look forward to receiving in Charlottesville your memoirs manuscript. and the next pessimism will be overdone. But nobody seems concerned with what are the possibilities that 1970 and 1973-1974 will be duplicated in the next five years. you have to think correctly. There are two requirements for success in Wall Street. Right now. Apparently. Thank you so much. and they forget everything. They used to say about the Bourbons that they forgot nothing and they learned nothing. in which he describes how panics come about. Merry-Go-Round. if people have money. and secondly. aren't there? Graham: Yes. the one-decision stocks. and you are back on the Ferris Wheel-whatever you want to call it--Seesaw. it is available to be lost and they speculate with it and they lose it-that's how panics are done. and all? Graham: No. literally. The sun is trying to come out now. One. is that they learn nothing. I think this business of greed-the excessive hopes and fears and so on-will be with us as long as there will be people. correctly and independently. the two-tier market. You will be back on that. There is a famous passage in Bagehot. here in La]olla. HB: But there are independent thinkers on Wall Street and throughout the country who do well. typically. there has been plenty of sunshine since the middle of 1974 when the bottom of the market was reached. and I'll say about the Wall Street people. nobody has given any thought to that question. But that such experiences will be duplicated in the next five years or so. in my opinion. What do you see of the sunshine on Wall Street? Graham: Well. Mr. stocks as a whole are not overvalued. you can bet your Dow] ones Average on that. I am very cynical about Wall Street. The present optimism is going to be overdone.HB: Do you think that Wall Street or the typical analyst or portfolio managers have learned their lessons of the "Go-Go" funds. I have no confidence whatever in the future behavior of the Wall Street people. Typically. HB: Yes. And my guess is that Wall Street hasn't changed at all. Graham! 41 . you have to think independently.

33 176.15 119.80 125.36 95.83 202.63 94.2% Annual compounded rate of return The record of the Benjamin Graham Joint Account can only be approximated for the intermediate years. The following figures are only approximations: Indexes-Including Reinvested Dividends 12-31 1925 1926 1927 1928 1~29 Ben Graham Joint Account* 100 110 150 250 200 100 80 75 115 120 180 S&P 500 100.16 101.10 208.93 54.52 120.40 138.17 Index Including Reinvested Dividends 100. for the first time since 1928.51 156. the total annual return must have exceeded 10 percent.62 78.84 26. The return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average would have been as follows: Dow .51 121.58 134. however.27 4. from references supplied in Ben's memoirs. The record for the entire period of ten years is.60 153." after providing him with a salary that amounted to four percent of the starting capital plus six percent annually for distributions to the investors. 1935.05 151.56 220.73 177. Ben became eligible for profit-sharing. No information is available on the Grahar Corporation except that the two and a half years ended with "a substantial profit. Thus.30 4.I ones 6-1-23 12-31-23 12-31-24 12-31-25 95.00 104.13 Dow Jones Industrials 100. reasonably correct since it was not until the tenth year. it is interesting to read Ben's impressionistic comments about the profits of the investment funds that he managed.06 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 Annual rate of return _mIL *Approximate figures 42 .BENJAMIN GRAHAM AS A PORTFOLIO MANAGER In these days of sophisticated techniques for measuring portfolio performance.00 102. that the ravages of the crash were recovered in full and.54 85.00 178.00 111.73 65.51 145.66 Dividend 2.

This decade of operations produced performance for the investors modestly greater than that of the market---even after providing Ben and Jerry with very substantial profit sharing in the first three years---and fairly substantial profit sharing in the final two years.89% 42.11 128. These performance results can be summarized as follows: Graham-Newman Corp.83 9.88 149.00 market value of 1.04 353.55 12.57 123.03 44.98 222.80 137.05 26. (Excluding GElCO) Asset Value 140. Annual rate of return Management fee Annual return to shareholders S&P 500 17.36 13.46 266.53 12.85 124.96 15.16 -11.4% -1.19 24.89 537.12 1.56 106.45 262. until 1956.3% 43 .76% .8. 1945.82 1-31-45 1-31-46 1-31-47 1-31-48 1-31-49 1-31-50 **1-31-51 **1-31-52 ** 1-31-53 **1-31-54 **1-31-55 **1-31-56 **8-20-56 26.24 9.55 15.76 125.00 126.11 Value of Dividend Rights 31.21 163.25 125.32 * Includes $27. The record of Graham-Newman Corporation is documented in the following tables covering the period from January 31.40 302.46 505.79 136.89 116.08 33.20 5.52 704.00 142.11 26.65 46. TABLE 1 Investment Performance of the Graham-Newman Corp.9 18.42 32.10 5.17 14.08 sh. when figures were first published in Moody's Manual of Banks and Finance Companies.44 311.51 116.66 16.51 20.20 17.08 345.95 180.00* 10.18 4.00 17.57 19.61 93.61 627.85 12.13 97.27 Index 100. **Adjusted for I-for-l0 reverse split.91 35.67 101.46 17.60 Total Return S&P 500 Total Return Index 100.75 9. Government Employees Insurance Co.94 14.84 114. Table 1 consists of the raw data indicating the basic record of Graham-Newman Corporation during its final dozen years of operation except for the Government Employees Insurance Company shares.31 .20 28.02 228.51 424.84 140.36 20.53 130.82 89.00 12.07 307.77 20.

...39 and an alpha coefficient of 7..2 7. FIGURE 1 Risk-Adjusted Rates of Return....8% + 7.2 17. but its character can be seen from Figure 1 which shows the risk-adjusted rates of return earned by the fund and by the S&P 500.30% . Treasury Bills...5% --- ..This rate of return was not exceptional. The risk characteristics illustrated in Figure 1 are summarized as follows: S&P 500 performance Risk-free rate of return S&P 500 Premium for risk Graham-Newman Corp. and S&P 500 Graham.... x 20 x l< x 10 alpha beta '= 7... Expected risk premium Risk-free rate of return Expected return Actual return Excess return 44 18... Newman Corp.70 ..70.1% 6.....S..1. .. The data are adjusted for the risk-free rate of return as measured by the interest rate on 91-day U... The performance of Graham-Newman Corporation during these dozen years indicates a very low sensitivity to market risks-with returns more directly related to the maturing of the special situations that Ben kept finding.7% 15..46 r2 o 10 20 30 40% S&P 500 The relationship depicted in Figure 1 indicates a beta coefficient of . Graham-Newman Corp.3% per year .6% 1...39 ...

Two other affiliates.75 51.16 2.00 90.88 32 18.16 2.40 46.16 2.16 Price 28.00 108 301 63.00 39 28.27 231.50 88.113 15. TABLE 2 Market Values of the GEICO and GEICO Life Shares GEICO Shares 1-31-49 1-31-50 1-31-51 1-31-52 1-31-53 1-31-54 1-31-55 1-31-56 8-20-56 12-31-60 12-31-65 12-31-70 1972 High 12-31-76 1.16 2.16 2. GEICO itself.96 7.672 4. It is doubtful.60 3.50 66.16 2.690 15.50 38 14.25 39.00 744 51.00 30.83 GEICO Life Price Value $ 51 124 100 139 211 349 558 569 506 2.7 percent per year better than would have been expected considering its low beta (sensitivity to market fluctuations).52 3.80 2.14 222.16 2. Table 2 shows the market values for the holdings of the two main GEICO companies that were distributed.94 63. and Government Employees Life Insurance Company.92 8.50 92 49.170 1.89 47. that very many of the investors in the Graham-Newman Corporation used this approach to measure the success of their investment.31 Value Shares -2. however.88 105.00 73 42.25 $ 33 17.900 5. total returns would have been larger than those indicated. As this table makes no provision for the reinvestment of dividends.21 4. Government Employees Financial Corporation and Criterion Insurance Company.00 717 45 .77 14.25 70.25 2. although they would have added modestly to the profits received if the rights to these issues had been exercised.35 61 34.50 55.50 57. are not shown.16 2. the fund did 7.75 7.20 29.60 3.59 30.34 111. The fabulous success of the GEICO investment far overshadowed everything else.55 9.00 929 66.In summary.50 58.773 14.75 38.96 31.

968 93. are presented below. Neither series has been adjusted for dividends.1 % per year 46 .658.413 1. These results certainly speak for themselves. compared with an equivalent investment in the Standard & Poor's 500.989 262. costing $11.181 84.060 7.The results of an investment in 100 shares of Graham-Newman Corporation common at 1-31-48.4% per year S&P 500 $11. Graham-Newman and GEICO 1-31-48 8-20-56 1972 Peak 12-31-76 1948-76 Appreciation $ 11. but the proceeds from the 1956 liquidation of Graham-Newman were assumed to have been reinvested in the S&P 500.413 70.413.490 11.413 30.

Perhaps that is just as well.' In dealing with other types of security commitments. whether we were right in any given case. Twenty years of varied experience in Wall Street have taught the senior author that thzs overemphaszs zs at once the delusion and the nemesis of the world of finance. For what we shall call f£xed-value investments can be soundly chosen only if they are approached--in the Spinozan phase. either to them or to ourselves. we have striven throughout to guard the student against overemphasis upon the superficial and the temporary.'from the viewpoint of calamity. 1946 If we could assume that the pn"ce of each of the leading issues already reflects the expectable developments of the next year or two.QUOTATIONS FROM BENJAMIN GRAHAM We have stressed theory not for itself alone but for its value in practice. and hence no batting averages. Security Analysis First Edition. 1934 We have no scoring system for security analysts. then a random selectz"on should work out as well as one conf£ned to those with the best near-term outlook. Security Analysis Third Edition. We have tried to avoid prescribing standards which are too stringent to follow. The worth of a good analyst undoubtedly shows itself decisively over the years in the sum total results of his recommendations. 1951 47 . Yet it would be anomalous indeed zf we were to devo te our lives to making concrete recommendations to clients without being able to prove. It zs the conservative investor who w£ll need most of all to be reminded constantly of the lessons of 1931-1933 and of previous collapses. or technical methods which are more trouble than they are worth. The Analysts Journal First Quarter.

fear and greed. He should always remember that market quotations are there for his convenience. either to be taken advantage of or to be ignored. However. Sound generalz"zations can be more dangerous than unsound ones because they lure more people into unwarranted actions. We can be skeptical about a complete break with the past. . as their net worth builds up through the reinvestment of undistributed earnings . 1959 The post-World War II world has been characterized as 'brave' and 'new. 1962 Common stocks have one important investment characteristic and one important speculative characteristic. indeed. Security Analysis Fourth Edition. most of the time common stocks are subject to irrational and excessive price fluctuations in both directions.. Their investment value and average market price tend to increase irregularly but persistently over the decades.' Brave it is. 1976 48 . The Intelligent Investor Third Edition. but we are not positive that it is equally new..The investor with a portfolio of sound stocks should expect their prices to fluctuate and should neither be concerned by sizable declines nor become exC£ted by sizable advances.. to give way to hope. as the consequence of the ingrained tendency of most people to speculate or gamble-i.e. Financial Analysts Iournal September/October.

Third edition. June 1. 1953. 1932." First Quarter 1946. Harmon. Second edition. The Truce. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. Benjamin. David L. 1944. Benjamin. August 3 and August 10. Storage and Stability. the Graham-Goudriaan Proposal for Stab£lizing Income of Primary Produe£ng Countr£es.June 13." Second Quarter 1946. "The S.July 1. Third edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. Security Analysis. Fourth edition (with Sidney Cottle and Charles Tatham). Graham. Commodity Reserve Currency. 1937. 1962. 1959. Selected Articles by Benjamin Graham "Is American Business Worth More Dead Than Alive?" Forbes. Second edition. New York: Harper & Row. 1973." January 1945. Translated by Benjamin Graham from the Spanish. Columbia University Press. 1937. World Commodities and JVorld Currency. Elmer Meredity. 1974. Benjamin." Third Quarter 1946. Benjamin. Graham.C. Inc. Benedetti. Inc." The Financial Analysts Research Articles by Benjamin Graham in the Financial Analysts Journal "Should Security Analysts Have a Professional Rating? The Affirmative Case. Method of Security Analysis. and Dodd. 1959.SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Books Graham. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.E." Fourth Quarter 1946. 1949. Graham. 1940. "Special Situations. Mario. New York: Harper & Row. First edition." Barron's. 1954. Benjamin. Graham. Inc. First edition. "Stock Dividends. New York: Harper & Row. The Intelligent Investor. of Value. 1967. The Interpretation of Financial Statements. "The Renaissance Foundation. 49 . Second edition. "The Hippocratic Method in Security Analysis. Charles. 1951. 1955. Fourth edition. 1932. 1932. 1934. and McGolrick. "On Being Right in Security Analysis. A Modem Ever-Normal Granary. First edition.

" First Quarter 1947. "Two Illustrative Approaches to Formula Valuations of Common Stocks. 1939-1945." November 1957." November 1962." August 1952. 50 . "Growth of Corporate Working Capital." September 1976. "The War Economy and Stock Values." May 1955." November 1967."A Note on Corporate Working Capital 1939-1945. "The Future of Financial Analysis. "Our Balance of Payments-the Conspiracy of Silence." Fourth Quarter 1946." Second Quarter 1948 Supplement. "The New Speculation in Common Stocks." Fourth Quarter 1947. "Two Ways of Making (and Losing) Money in Securities. "Which Way to Relief from the Double Tax on Corporate Profits?" February 1954." May 1963. "Some Structural Relationships Bearing Upon Full Employment." June 1958. "A Questionnaire on Stockholder-Management Relationship." First Quarter 1951. "A Conversation With Benjamin Graham. "Some Observations. "Toward a Science of Security Analysis.

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