I continually hear from economists, talking heads, other market letter writers, analysts and assorted "experts" that I need to know all kinds of "stuff" about the stocks and mutual funds I am going to buy and I should keep up with them on a regular basis.

What is this important "stuff"?

Let's see. Oh, I know. Price to Earning ratio, P/E. That's always a big one on almost everyone's list. Simply put it is how many years it will take a company's earning to pay back the price today. It can be from five to infinity if it is not earning anything. Today there are many companies that have P/Es in excess of 50. That's 50 years to earn back your investment. Kinda steep, don't you think? For years the average has been 14 or 15. Today it is about 28 to 30 depending on who is counting.

A stock selling at 14 P/E is fairly valued by "experts", but if the stock is going down is that still a "fair" value? Do you want to buy something that is a fair value, but looks like it will sell for less in a few months?

Then there are all kinds of things market analysts like to look for and talk about such a gross sales, net profit, management experience, competition, industry sector, price/volume relationship, interest rates, rate of inflation and I could go on for a couple of pages, but you get the idea. When, and if, you do this type of analysis you will find most of the numbers don't agree with each other to give you a clear idea of whether to buy or sell. It is like trying to pick a button out of a washing machine during wash cycle. The more you look the more confused you become.

Brokerage companies want you to try to use all this "stuff". They encourage you to become confused. That way if you pick a stock that goes down they don't take any blame. "The market is very complex" is their favorite phrase. Whether you win or lose they make money in commissions.

If this "stuff" is of no value in stock selection (and it isn't) then how are you to find stocks that go up? It is so simple that brokers don't want you to know. In fact, most of them don't know. Here is the answer. Find a stock or better yet a mutual fund that is going up. Is that too easy?

There is a basic law of physics that says a body in motion will remain in motion in the same direction until disturbed by another force. The Law of Inertia. This same principle can be applied to the stock market.

Find a stock or mutual fund that is going up and buy it. When the direction changes to down (or even sideways) sell.

You don't need all that "stuff".

Copyright 2005


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