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Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits – Philip A. Fisher

Widely respected and admired, Philip Fisher is among the most influential investors of all time. His investment philosophies, introduced almost forty years ago, are not only studied and applied by today’s financiers and investors, but are also regarded by many as gospel. This book is invaluable reading and has been since it was first published in 1958. The updated paperback retains the investment wisdom of the original edition and includes the perspectives of the author’s son Ken Fisher, an investment guru in his own right in an expanded preface and introduction

“I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits… A thorough understanding of the business, obtained by using Phil’s techniques…enables one to make intelligent investment commitments.”
—Warren Buffet


This is among the most beloved investment books of all times, among the bestselling of classic investment books, and now forty-five years old. My father wrote his original preface at my childhood home in September 1957. It remains herein. Forty-five years later in October 2002, in my current home, I dare write this, this book’s first new preface in all those decades.

If you’ve read my revised preface, you might think my father is deceased. No. As I write, he is ninety-five and alive. But he is reduced by the awesome wreckage induced by late stages of aged senile demen- tia and probably by Alzheimer’s disease (there is no right way to be sure). He is at home, in bed, about thirty feet away from where he wrote Com- mon Stocks and Uncommon Profits and his other writings.

He deteriorates steadily. To those few of us taking care of him, it is startlingly quickly. By the time you read this, he may well be deceased. He will never read these words—were they read to him, he couldn’t fol- low their meaning for more than a sentence or two before losing the thread in dangling disconnects cut by his dread disease. He was a great man but is now just a little, old man very late in life. But he is my little, old man. What this disease routinely does to people is nothing to be ashamed of; it is just a disease, not a failing.When I wrote my third book, based on one hundred cameo biographies of dead pioneers of American finance, I defined it as “dead” pioneers only on the premise that dead people don’t sue, just in case I got anything wrong. But I also did so because I purposefully didn’t want to cover my father in any regard. I didn’t want to say anything that might hurt him if I interpreted him dif- ferently than he might have wished, which I well might have.

Now I need not worry about that because he won’t know what I say here. So it is time to tell you a bit about the man who wrote one of the best beloved investment books of all time. I’m best qualified to do so because I know him better than anyone if you combine business and personal matters. Oh, certainly, in other ways my mother, his wife, knew him far better than anyone. My aunt, his sister, knew him longer than anyone. But their relationships were basically personal, not business.Yes, I have an eldest brother who worked very closely with him briefly and was temporarily my business partner and to whom I’m close. But Arthur’s professional time span around Father was fairly short. He evolved to academic humanities, where he is today. Father always loved Arthur foremost of his three sons, and Arthur was more emotionally linked to Father than I was. But Arthur would be first to tell you I spent vastly more business time around Father over many more years and had a day-to-day relationship with him when Arthur couldn’t, materially because Arthur lived a thousand miles away.

Kenneth L. Fisher

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Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
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