Investing in the stock market sometimes boils down to one essential element, namely good choices. No matter how well we do our research, how often we buy and sell, or how much we pay experts for their tips and advice, without choosing stocks that represent value, we won’t succeed. Although some are good at predicting the direction of the market and timing the ups and downs, if they don’t purchase the right stocks, they will still meet with difficulties when trying to reap profits.
For that reason, some of the best paid people on Wall Street known primarily for their talent at picking stocks. Financial advisers give talks and write books and newsletters about how to choose stocks that will outperform the market, and most experts echo the same sentiment and agree that one of the best ways to judge a stock is from the point of view of a consumer. By using instincts we have already honed as ordinary shoppers, we can often ferret out information that even the most skilled and software-savvy market watchers miss. While they study analytical charts, earnings reports, and the stock exchange ticker tape, folks just like yourself actually do business with the companies they invest in, because their experience as a customer speaks volumes about the value of the company and its products and services.
Here are the kinds of things to look for as indicators of a company’s worth:
1) How popular is their product or service? If everyone you know uses it, and is satisfied with such things as price, customer service, and reliability, the company is probably well situated among the competition.
2) Are the employees satisfied? One of the best ways to judge a company is by talking to employees. Many companies put on a good facade, but underneath the fancy marketing is plenty of discontent. But if employees like a company – especially if they like it enough to buy stock in it – that’s a very good sign.
3) How well known are they? You may find a great start-up company with all the trappings of success, but discover that it is lesser known. Many small or regional companies are popular in their own back yards, but the rest of the world may not yet know about them. Buying such unknowns can be a great way to invest in the next hot stock. If the fundamentals look good, sometimes being lesser known is a good thing for investors getting in on the ground floor.
4) If they went out of business, where would you go for similar products and services? If you can’t think of a convenient alternative, the company is probably in a niche market that enjoys customer loyalty and repeat business.
Shop around, and notice what you see and how each business makes you feel. Then trust your intuition. Make a list of companies that get your attention, and then call their shareholder relations department and ask for more details. By starting your list with companies you already have a first hand experience of, you raise the chances considerably that you will make smart choices.
Photo by: Sujin Jetkasettakorn
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