Let's face it - this is not light reading. There is no romance involved nor is there a murder mystery to be solved. And the future of the planet is not threatened by the theories presented.
But - and you knew there was a 'but' - the book contains a heavy dose of lying, cheating, swindling and stealing --------- and it's all legal. Yes, this book details the ways accounting statements may be manipulated by companies to present the very best picture of its financial state to the investing public.
If a company's sales are lagging - why not reduce the inventory's selling price and sweeten the payment terms? There's nothing illegal in these actions - and company sales may well jump on these incentives. But longer term, these sales prices might have to be repeated over and over again to move stale inventory - reducing operating margins. And the sweetened payment terms might be too sweet - leading to an increase in bad debt expense. This downward spiral of decreased profitability may take a few quarters to show up to Wall Street, but inevitably the company's stock price will match the decline in the company's results.
What can an investor do to avoid such a situation? How can an investor pick up on the early signs of such troubles? Del Vechio and Jacobs have the answer! Their methods of analysis of financial statements often can spot financial problems before a company's stock price tanks.
All-in-all, the book very competently reviews the places where a company might - legally - manipulate revenues, expenses, allowances or cash flow in their financial statements. This book is in the best tradition of analyzing financial statements - following in the tradition of works by O'Glove on the "Quality of Earnings", for example.
The book's narration is done by one of the authors - Tom Jacobs - so the listener never feels that the narrator is 'just reading words' without any idea of what they mean. While I can't describe the narration as "lively" (as this book essentially is an accounting textbook), the pace and style of the narrator is pleasing.
In summary, this book is directed toward those with a good knowledge of accounting statements and of the stock market. However, beginning investors also could benefit from this book if they would only pick up one or two pointers on financial statement analysis.
As a CPA focusing on investments, I enjoyed the book -- and on many occasions as I listened to its chapters I found myself putting down my headphones and saying to myself "now - let's analyze my stocks from this same perspective...."
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