HEADS YOU WIN, TAILS YOU WIN: The Dirks Investment Formula by Raymond L. Dirks

HEADS YOU WIN, TAILS YOU WIN: The Dirks Investment Formula

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This ""and-then-I-bought"" exercise from a rogue securities broker is to thoughtful investment guides as junk food is to haute cuisine. Fortunately, anyone silly enough to swallow Dirks' system of common stock selection is not liable to suffer any lasting financial indisposition. His key dictum is that investors should concentrate their search for market winners on issues with price/earnings ratios less than seven, i.e., those whose market quotes do not exceed seven times per-share profits for the latest 12 months. He advises further that the book (realizable asset) value of any chosen security should exceed or at least equal market value. Eventually, Dirks maintains, the dim-witted herd will catch on to the attractiveness of these stocks and bid up the market prices. Alternatively, some sharp-eyed corporate crew may make an above-market tender offer. In either event, when the P/E tops seven investors should take their profits, he recommends, and move on to the next undervalued situation. That's virtually the entire message of the book, and it's inarguable so far as it goes. But, as the author has good reason to know, securities analysis remains more art than science, and realizing appreciation--the text's sole yardstick for investment success--requires more than the mindless application of simplistic formulas. Further, Dirks, who heads his own sales/research group at an old-line brokerage house, has had a checkered career on Wall Street. Tipped off by a former employee, he did blow the whistle on Equity Funding--but, the SEC charges, only after giving his major institutional clients time to unload their holdings. The delay in going public, at least dealt with in Dirks' 1974 account of the affair (The Great Wall Street Scandal), is conveniently forgotten here. The omission is material in light of the extensive use of case studies from the insurance industry (a Dirks specialty) and repeated reminders that big accounts as well as brokers have easier access than so-called small investors to the inside information which can send stock prices soaring or tumbling. The real problem, though, is the shallow treatment of a concept worth serious consideration.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1979
Publisher: Stein & Day