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Shares made Simple, reviewed by Annie Shaw

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"Investing in shares is one of the more obvious routes to making a better return on your cash, but the stock market can seem a bewildering place for the uninitiated. Riding to the rescue comes the book Shares made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to the Stockmarket , by veteran financial journalist Rodney Hobson. And Hobson's book does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a basic "Janet and John" primer about how the stockmarket works. Anyone who is a complete novice at investing, or even seasoned financial professionals, who over the years have got used to doing things by instinct and find it hard to explain their trade to clients or back-office staff, will appreciate the back-to-basics approach of this book, which delves under the bonnet of the stock market and describes how it works in simple terms.

The book will be of particular value to anyone who is trying to build their own portfolio, with or without professional help. It starts with the fundamentals of what exactly shares are, and runs through the process of evaluating a company and deciding whether its shares are a suitable candidate for purchase or sale. Which shares are listed on which exchanges, the intricacies of share splits, bonus offers, placings and dividends are all patiently explained. Sections are devoted to how to read stock market data, what to make of stockbrokers' tips in their circulars and the public prints, and the arcane art of charting. There's even a chapter devoted to "potential nasties" to look for, such as profit warnings, pension fund deficits and breaches of banking covenants. Towards the end of the book there is a useful anatomy of how mergers and acquisitions are undertaken, with a full explanation of the process, the timetable of the progress of a bid, and who among shareholders and company executives stands to gain or lose at each point in the process. A handy "jargon busting" glossary of stockmarket and investment terms covers not only the familiar menagerie of bulls and bears, but also the "dead cat bounce" and the dangerous game of "catching falling knives".

The book, which is published just in time for Christmas, is an ideal stocking-filler for would-be investors, business studies students or anyone who wants to make their money work for them."

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