The Acquirer’s Multiple

Top Recommended Investment Books

  • Book Title: The Acquirer’s Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market
  • Author: Tobias E. Carlisle
  • Publication Date: September 2017


The Acquirer’s Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market, written by Tobias E. Carlisle, explores the investment philosophy centered around deep value investing and the specific metric known as the Acquirer’s Multiple. Published in September 2017, this book delves into the strategies employed by some of the most successful contrarian investors in the market. Carlisle provides a compelling case for using this valuation metric to identify undervalued companies with the potential for significant returns. This book is particularly relevant for finance professionals and investors seeking to enhance their understanding of value investing principles and apply a proven metric to their investment strategy.

The Acquirer's Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market
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07/16/2024 06:05 am GMT

Content Summary

Key Concepts:

  • The Acquirer’s Multiple: The book introduces the concept of the Acquirer’s Multiple, a valuation metric that focuses on the price an investor would pay for a company relative to its operating earnings. This metric aims to identify companies that are undervalued based on their earnings potential.
  • Deep Value Investing: Carlisle explains the principles of deep value investing, which involves buying stocks that are significantly undervalued compared to their intrinsic value. This strategy is often contrarian, going against prevailing market trends.

Core Topics:

  • The Acquirer’s Multiple Formula: The book provides a detailed explanation of the Acquirer’s Multiple formula, which is calculated as Enterprise Value (EV) divided by Operating Earnings (EBIT). Carlisle explains why this metric is a powerful tool for identifying undervalued companies.
  • Historical Context and Case Studies: Carlisle uses historical examples and case studies of successful investors, such as Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, to illustrate how the Acquirer’s Multiple has been used to achieve exceptional returns. These case studies provide practical insights into the application of deep value investing principles.
  • Comparison to Other Valuation Metrics: The book compares the Acquirer’s Multiple to other commonly used valuation metrics, such as the Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio and the Price-to-Book (P/B) ratio. Carlisle argues that the Acquirer’s Multiple provides a more comprehensive view of a company’s value.
  • Practical Application: Carlisle offers practical advice on how investors can incorporate the Acquirer’s Multiple into their investment strategy. This includes screening for stocks, analyzing financial statements, and making informed investment decisions based on the metric.

Overall, "The Acquirer’s Multiple" provides finance professionals with a detailed guide to a unique and effective approach to value investing. The book’s emphasis on practical application and historical examples makes it a valuable resource for both novice and experienced investors.

Critical Analysis


  1. Clear and Concise Explanation of Complex Concepts: Tobias Carlisle excels at breaking down the Acquirer’s Multiple and deep value investing into easily understandable terms. The book avoids unnecessary jargon, making it accessible to both novice and experienced investors.
  2. Use of Historical Examples and Case Studies: The inclusion of case studies featuring successful investors like Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn helps to illustrate the practical application of the Acquirer’s Multiple. These examples not only reinforce the book's concepts but also provide inspiration and practical insights for readers.
  3. Practical Advice and Actionable Strategies: Carlisle provides readers with actionable steps on how to incorporate the Acquirer’s Multiple into their own investment strategies. This practical guidance, from screening stocks to analyzing financial statements, makes the book a useful tool for immediate implementation.
  4. Unique Perspective on Value Investing: Unlike traditional value investing approaches that rely heavily on metrics like the Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio, the Acquirer’s Multiple offers a fresh perspective by focusing on enterprise value relative to operating earnings. This unique angle can help investors uncover undervalued opportunities that might be overlooked by conventional methods.


  1. Potential Oversimplification of Investment Strategies: While the book’s simplicity is a strength, it can also be a limitation. Some of the investment strategies presented might appear overly simplistic to seasoned investors who are accustomed to more complex analysis and multi-faceted valuation techniques.
  2. Limited Discussion on Risks: The book primarily focuses on the potential benefits of using the Acquirer’s Multiple without delving deeply into the associated risks. Deep value investing can be risky, and a more thorough discussion on potential pitfalls and risk management strategies would have been beneficial.
  3. Repetitive Sections: Certain sections of the book can feel repetitive, particularly when Carlisle reiterates the advantages of the Acquirer’s Multiple compared to other valuation metrics. While this reinforces the book’s key message, it can become monotonous for readers already convinced of the metric’s value.

Comparative Analysis:

  1. Comparison to Other Seminal Works: When compared to other seminal works in value investing, such as "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham and "Security Analysis" by Graham and Dodd, "The Acquirer’s Multiple" offers a more streamlined and focused approach. While Graham’s works provide a comprehensive foundation in value investing principles, Carlisle’s book is more specialized, zeroing in on a specific metric and its practical application.
  2. Unique Position Among Valuation Techniques: The Acquirer’s Multiple stands out from other valuation techniques by providing a holistic view of a company’s value that includes debt, making it particularly useful for identifying acquisition targets. This distinguishes it from the P/E ratio and P/B ratio, which focus more narrowly on equity valuation.

In conclusion, "The Acquirer’s Multiple" is a valuable addition to the literature on value investing. Its clear explanation of the Acquirer’s Multiple, combined with practical advice and historical context, makes it a worthwhile read for finance professionals. However, readers should be aware of the potential oversimplifications and the need for a deeper understanding of the risks involved in deep value investing.

Notable Quotes

  1. On the Power of the Acquirer’s Multiple:
    • "The Acquirer’s Multiple is a simple yet powerful tool that helps investors identify undervalued companies with the potential for significant returns." (p. 23)
  2. On Deep Value Investing:
    • "Deep value investing is not for the faint of heart. It requires patience, discipline, and a contrarian mindset, but the rewards can be substantial for those willing to stay the course." (p. 45)
  3. On Historical Success:
    • "Investors like Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn have built their fortunes by applying deep value investing principles and recognizing the potential of undervalued companies." (p. 87)
  4. On the Comparison with Other Metrics:
    • "While traditional metrics like the P/E ratio and the P/B ratio have their merits, the Acquirer’s Multiple provides a more comprehensive view by taking into account both equity and debt." (p. 103)
  5. On Practical Application:
    • "The true power of the Acquirer’s Multiple lies in its practical application. By systematically applying this metric, investors can uncover hidden gems in the market that others might overlook." (p. 122)
  6. On Contrarian Investing:
    • "Contrarian investing means going against the grain. It means buying when others are selling and finding value where others see none. The Acquirer’s Multiple is a tool that guides contrarians to these opportunities." (p. 139)
  7. On Risk Management:
    • "Understanding the risks inherent in deep value investing is crucial. While the rewards can be great, investors must be prepared for volatility and potential setbacks." (p. 154)

These quotes encapsulate the essence of the book, highlighting the significance of the Acquirer’s Multiple, the mindset required for deep value investing, and the practical applications of Carlisle’s strategies. They provide valuable insights into the book’s core messages and reinforce its relevance for finance professionals and investors.


Summary: Overall, The Acquirer’s Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market by Tobias E. Carlisle presents a compelling case for the Acquirer’s Multiple as a powerful tool in value investing. The book effectively breaks down complex concepts, offers practical advice, and supports its arguments with historical examples and case studies. Carlisle's unique focus on enterprise value relative to operating earnings provides a fresh perspective that distinguishes this work from other seminal texts in value investing.

Recommendation: I highly recommend "The Acquirer’s Multiple" to finance professionals, investors, and anyone interested in value investing. Its accessible writing style, practical insights, and unique angle make it a valuable resource for both novices and seasoned investors. The book's emphasis on actionable strategies ensures that readers can immediately apply the concepts to their investment processes.

Final Thoughts: While the book does have some limitations, such as the potential oversimplification of strategies and a lack of detailed discussion on risks, its overall value remains high. The strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making it a significant contribution to the field of finance. For those looking to enhance their investment toolkit with a proven and effective metric, "The Acquirer’s Multiple" is an essential read.


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