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The Little Book: That Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt

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Chapter 9. Chapter Nine

VOMIT UNDER THE 3EM-SPACES AND RUN!"

Now there's a saying you don't hear every day. The main reason you don't hear it much is pretty straightforward. Over time, the phrase has lost all of its meaning. In fact, I really only needed it to pass my eighth-grade course in print shop.

You see, old-time printers used to set type by hand and actually picked letters individually out of a box. To pass the course, my fellow middle schoolers and I were forced to memorize the location of these letters. The letters in the bottom row were V-U-T, then something called a 3em-space, followed by the letters A-R. We remembered the order by the catchy phrase "Vomit under the 3em-spaces and run!"

With the advent of computers, my little memory device—and print shop, for that matter—is now useless. Of course, the world has changed a lot since I was in middle school. No one teaches print shop anymore. Thankfully, though, some subjects haven't changed. Math class, for one, is still pretty much the same. As investors, that's really important to know.

That's because, in order for the magic formula to make us money in the long run, the principles behind it must appear not only sensible and logical, but timeless. Otherwise, there is no way we'll be able to "hang on" when our short-term results turn against us. As simple as it may seem, knowing that two plus two always equals four can be a pretty powerful concept. No matter how many people tell us differently, no matter how long they tell ...

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