Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Book Review: Investing The Templeton Way

Sir John Templeton is one of the world's most successful and well known value investors. Investing the Templeton Way is a very abbreviated introduction to Sir John's early life and the factors that influenced his development into a value investor and a series of reviews of some of his more significant and successful investment decisions.

The books was written in a way which made for easy reading over the course of a weekend and conveyed a clear message that avoiding the extreme euphoria that accompanies bull markets and seeking for what Sir John describes the "point of maximum pessimism" will not only serve to avoid losing money when bubbles burst but also ensure that investors are well positioned to make positive returns from unpopular investments at times when more popular investments are declining in value.

On the negative side, as a biography the book was sadly lacking. It conveyed almost nothing about Sir John as an individual. (In fairness, the books is focused on investing strategies and is probably not intended to be biographical.) As far as investing strategies are concerned, the book was essentially a summary of a series of successful macro investment decisions. There was a complete absence of situations where investments lost money (apart from short periods when Sir John was waiting for the markets to move in the right direction). I have difficulty that any investor could be so consistently right which brings me to the major weakness of the book: the risks involved in picking individual investments without regard for asset allocation and trying to time the market were either glossed over or ignored.

As a final point the use of "Uncle John" to refer to Sir John became a minor irritation by the end of the book. (One of the authors is Sir John's great niece.) When added to the failure to adequately address the risk factors, I was left feeling that Investing the Templeton Way lack sufficient objectivity.

No comments: