Effective Stock Picking - an art or a science?



Many investors new to the stock-picking scene believe that there is some infallible strategy that, once followed, will guarantee success. There is no foolproof system for picking stocks! It's just better to think of stock-picking as an art rather than a science. There are a few reasons for this:  

1. So many factors affect a company's health that it is nearly impossible to construct a formula that will predict success. It is one thing to assemble data that you can work with, but quite another to determine which numbers are relevant.

2. A lot of information is intangible and cannot be measured. The quantifiable aspects of a company, such as profits, are easy enough to find. But how do you measure the qualitative factors, such as the company's staff, its competitive advantages, its reputation and so on? This combination of tangible and intangible aspects makes picking stocks a highly subjective, even intuitive process.

3. Because of the human (often irrational) element inherent in the forces that move the stock market, stocks do not always do what you anticipate they'll do. Emotions can change quickly and unpredictably. And unfortunately, when confidence turns into fear, the stock market can be a dangerous place.

The bottom line is that there is no one way to pick stocks. Better to think of every stock strategy as nothing more than an application of a theory - a "best guess" of how to invest. And sometimes two seemingly opposed theories can be successful at the same time. Perhaps just as important as considering theory, is determining how well an investment strategy fits your personal outlook, time frame, risk tolerance, and the amount of time you want to devote to investing and picking stocks.



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