Common Benjamin Graham Misquotes

Warren Buffett's mentor — and the founder of Value Investing — is misquoted frequently today, often due to recent modifications to his books.

Graham

Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffett's mentor. Buffett wrote the preface to Graham's book The Intelligent Investor, describing it as "by far the best book about investing ever written". The book was reprinted recently with commentary by Jason Zweig.

Serenity's list of famous Value Investing quotes includes a curated list of actual Graham quotes.

Misquotes

But Graham has probably been misquoted, and had his ideas misrepresented, more than anyone else in finance. Given below are some of the more prominent examples.

#1 - Formula

The so-called Benjamin Graham Formula is a classic example of a Graham misquote that was possibly caused by the recent modifications to his books. The topic has been thoroughly explored in a dedicated article.

Note: The Graham Number and Net Current Asset Value are often applied incorrectly today as well. But they are more misused than misquoted.

#2 - Preface

As another example, neither of the highlighted "Graham quotes" in this recently published article by a popular financial writer are actually by Graham.

The first quote about a "sound intellectual framework" is from Buffett's preface to The Intelligent Investor, and the second one about "behavioral discipline" is from Jason Zweig's commentary.

Note: The text in the middle of the image has been removed to avoid identifying the author and the website.

#3 - Commentary

This is another example of a piece of Jason Zweig's commentary from 2006 being attributed to Graham. This is actually so common an occurrence today, that listing all such instances here is nearly impossible.

Buffett's preface is much older in comparison (1986), but everything seems fair game today in the world of online financial articles.

#4 - Selling

Another possible misquote is Graham's rumored instruction to sell a stock at "50-100% gains or after 2-3 years", which is not included in any of the sections on selling stocks in his books.

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Online Articles

Financial articles online today are replete with such misquotes and misattributions that are often used to justify something completely contradictory to what the original author was trying to convey.

Would it be wise to trust such writers who get simple quotes and sources wrong, to get complex statistical analyses right? There is probably good reason why the role of objective numbers in investments is often downplayed today, and subjective written analyses and Story Stocks are promoted instead.

Actual Investing

But while winging it may work for churning out financial articles en masse for social platforms, actual investing requires obsessive attention to numbers.

There are Value Investing services out there charging $600 a year to compare a handful of stocks, sometimes using valuation techniques Graham actually warned against (such as the Ben Graham Formula). Even the genuine ones usually apply just the Graham Number or the NCAV, without the supporting qualitative criteria.

Serenity Stocks, on the other hand, is built to follow Graham's principles faithfully; in both letter and spirit.

Graham Resources