I recently posted this video segment on the "Today's Video & Media" tab at the top of the page, but I thought it was a piece that deserves a space down here on the main page.
Bill Ackman has become one of my favorite people to listen to over the past few years. He has had both monumental successes (the acquisition of General Growth) and monumental failures (purchasing a major stake in Target).
He has one of the best financial minds in the industry and the ability to look forward and explain his vision of why an event should/will occur with clarity. He is also a real estate expert, something that always has a special place in my heart.
I am not an expert on determining value in stock through a company balance sheet, but it is something I study on occasion My personal expertise, due to many years of study, is in the ability to review and analyze the balance sheet of a commercial real estate property.
Therefore, when purchasing stocks I rely on the expertise of someone who reviews balance sheets for a living in the specific sector I want to make a purchase. For example, if I want to buy shares of a gold mine I seek out the best people in the world at reviewing a gold miner's balance sheets to find value. I then pay money for their expertise before making a purchase. It is not worth my time to visit with the management of a company and learn to study their balance sheets when the cost to obtain that information from a professional who does it full time can be obtained at a reasonable price. For an example, see John Doody's Gold Stock Analyst newsletter.
That being said, having a baseline understanding of finance will help you no matter what you do for a living. The following is an excellent primer and can open the doors to additional study for subjects you'd like more information on.
Everything You Need To Know About Finance In 40 Minutes: