Jesse Livermore started as a pageboy and quickly turned a day trader. After several years of day trading he realized real money is not in day trading but in catching big moves or position trading.
After that realization he quickly built a large fortune. Starting from scratch he built a fortune of 100 million in 1920's by trading in the growth stocks of that era. He used large leverage and made very concentrated bets in stocks and commodities.
Excessive leverage, lavish spending, affairs, divorces and clinically depressed personality contributed to his burst.
This book was written at the very end of his career as he was trying to make another comeback and wanted to raise money by starting advisory services. He committed suicide one year after this book was published.
This small book distills his years of experience and method. The key messages of the book are:
There are times when one should speculate and times when one should not. Trying to make money everyday is not a successful speculative strategy.
His primary method was to buy new high in a trending stock after a consolidation or correction
He concentrated all his efforts on leading stocks of his era. Which at that time were the growth stocks from industries like steel, motor, railroad, mail order, aircraft makers, and commodities.
He had a theory about pivotal point for buy and sell. These pivotal points were basically breakouts after correction or consolidation.
He also found other pivotal points like round numbers of 100, 200, 300 and so on, all time high in recent IPO, long (2-3 year) range breaks)
Nicolas Darvas was a Hungarian born dancer, who got interested in stock market after he got paid for one of his performance in stocks.
He got fascinated by stocks and spent hours studying the market and trying to make money on short term moves in stocks without much success. From 1952 to 1956 he tried various methods of stock selection and churned his account till he put in place his own method of trading momentum/growth stocks called "box theory" which was simple a method to buy a second leg of a bull move in a growth stock after it had a had a consolidation period or trading range(which he called box). He bought the stock after the stock made a new high or 52 week high after such consolidation.
Once he had his method in place, in span of 18 months he made 2 million starting with 10000 capital. If you look at the 5 or 6 stocks which made him that 2 million, you will notice they were the growth stocks of that time.
Most people got fascinated by the "box " idea and they forget that the reason he was successful was because he chose the growth stocks to use the box on. Also he timed his entry with start of a new bull market, which was one of the top 10 bull market year. Between 1957 to 1958 the overall market went up by 50% plus. Which makes 1958 as one of the top 10 bull market years since 1825. Besides that he used huge leverage to magnify his returns.
The key to his 2 million profit was:
Growth stocks with established momentum
Buying after correction/consolidation
Avoiding bear markets
A bull market of 50% plus magnitude
There are numerous websites selling stock picking service using Darvas box technical system. But all those systems miss out the essential element of Darvas method, which was growth investing. He himself subsequently wrote more books and elaborated on his method as techno fundamental approach to investing in growth stocks.
Ralph Wanger was a mutual fund manager at Acorn Fund. For 25 years he put together a 16% plus annualised returns for his fund.
His primary focus was investing in small growth companies for medium or long term holding periods.
He says investors are like zebras in lion country. If they stick to the middle of the heard, it is safe , but they get meager amount of grass to eat. The richer rewards in the markets are on outer edge where the risk of lions eating you is high. So one must balance safety , risk and reward.
His methodology consists of first identifying a predominant theme likely to play out over many years and then find smal companies likely to benefit from that theme for many years.
The best investment picks are growing small companies with following characteristics:
fast growing market segment
dominant market share
good product design
low cost and efficient manufacturing
high profit margins
strong balance sheet
and entrepreneurial management
He was always looking for home runs as against singles.