In my career I’ve had a number of amazing influences and teachers whom I’ve never met.  One that is extremely under-rated is who I believe to be the finest professor of investing  that is around.  Martin Whitman has been the patriarch of Third Avenue Management for a long time, although he got into the money management business a little later in life after various other business experiences.  Whitman has written a variety of classic investment books and I might be the first to make this bold statement, I believe that his most recent book “Modern Security Analysis” is the finest investment book that I have ever read.  It is an absolute gem and it takes many of the best elements from Whitman’s previous books on distressed investing, value investing and his letters to shareholders.  Whitman is an expert in the fundamental finance approach to investing, which has had an enormous impact on me.  He looks at resource conversion opportunities and attempts to buy businesses at large discount to their net asset values, particularly if the businesses can grow their net asset value by 10% or greater adjusted for dividends.  This sensible approach is extremely logical in today’s environment, which is rampant with speculation and over-priced securities, yet still there are some psychological barriers keeping sectors relatively cheap, such as financial stocks.  Whitman should go down in history as one of the best investors and communicators of all time but I don’t believe that he has gotten the credit that he deserves.  Below is a great interview and you can see that Whitman’s brain is still functioning at an extremely high level!