Investing without research is like playing stud poker and never looking at the cards.” – Über-investor and former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Peter Lynch

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Couldn’t help but note Lynch’s gambling metaphor when it comes to investing in global markets.

There are many who absolutely contend, and will not be convinced otherwise, that investing in Wall Street is nothing more and nothing less than gambling. They even talk about playing the market.

Are the Manhattan-based NYSE and the NASDAQ stock markets, Las Vegas East?

Or is Las Vegas, Wall Street West?

Can’t say the author of Almost DailyBrett is an expert about either gambling (never been to Lost Wages) or investing, but I do know enough about Wall Street to be dangerous.

And based upon this finite knowledge, let me proclaim IMHO: Investing in Wall Street is not gambling, provided that you do your homework, and as Peter Lynch has stated, “Invest in what you know.”

Strategic Business/Financial Communications

The academic paper for my M.A. project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication provided the backdrop for the creation of an upper division college course: Strategic Business/Financial Communications. I was privileged to teach the course that I created.

Many students thought that Strategic Business was a math class. Ahh … I flunked geometry in high school. Screw the Pythagorean Theorem. Yours (left-brain challenged) truly cannot and will not ever teach a math class. Instead, communications’ students learned a new language – speaking, writing, hearing, reading – the lexicon of Wall Street.

There is a reason why financial communications/investor relations are easily the highest compensated segments of the public relations profession. According to Salary.com, IR directors received in the range of $97,753 to $201,565 annually in 2013. Corporate PR directors received $86,469 to $167,836 in the same year.

This is serious money, not including stock purchase plans and options. And why is that? Both jobs demand qualitative excellence (e.g., developing relationships with analysts, investors, reporters, employees) and quantitative skills (e.g., reading income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements).

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Which brings us back to the point as to why Wall Street is investing and not gambling. The answer lies with responding to a basic question: How does a company make money?

Microsoft sells software and video game consoles. Boeing produces airplanes. Google is the No. 1 search engine. Apple is Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. Nike makes athletic shoes. Amazon is the No. 1 digital retailer etc.

And backing up the answer to these questions is a plethora of facts, figures and information. Looking up a stock on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch.com, The Street.com and others is the easy part.

There are also the aforementioned income statements (revenues and net income…there is a major top-line and bottom-line difference), balance sheets (assets and liabilities), CEO letters, annual reports, analyst reports and more. The sheer volume of this data can be overwhelming, but it is all there, free of charge.

Leading or Trailing Indicator?

“ … Don’t care where a stock has been, only where it’s going.” – CNBC Mad Money Jim Cramer.

Cramer is fond of stating that he really does not care about a stock’s past, only its future. That answers the leading vs. trailing indicator question. Stock prices are an indicator of the expected/anticipated/projected/forecasted upward or downward direction of a company’s business prospects.

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How do we know whether a company is doing well or not? Certainly there are oodles of information online, maybe even too much data. There is also your personal experience.

Ever observe the perpetual line out the door at Starbucks as people queue to pay $4.00 for that overpriced grande mocha with no whip.

Ever notice that Southwest Airlines only offers peanuts and a soda; you can choose your own seat; the airline only flies Boeing 737s; and the flight attendants are actually Pharrell Williams Happy?

Ever note the high prices, superior quality, commitment to service and high-traffic stores at Nordstrom?

And did you ever wonder about all the hoopla about “The Cloud” or the access of Big Data contained in mega servers and offered in manageable chunks by a company such as Salesforce.com?

When one mentions “Hog,” your mind may conjure a barnyard or you may think about high-performance, big muscle motorcycles. Want to invest in one of the country’s great comeback stories? Just enter NYSE: HOG or Harley Davidson into the search engine.

“The House Always Wins”

When one is mathematically challenged, it is best to stay away from Texas hold-em or the black-jack table. Can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase: “The House always wins.”

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That’s not to say that there are not legitimate complaints about Wall Street, particularly as it applies to executive compensation for underperforming CEOs. And there are those who contend the market is rigged against the little guy, the retail investor.

There is no doubt that cash is king. And the buy-side (e.g., PERS, Fidelity, Putnam) and the sell-side (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan) own the lion’s share of company shares. The respective analysts for these investment houses naturally draw the most attention from publicly traded company execs.

Having said all of the above, there are still opportunities for the retail (e.g. Charles Schwab, eTrade, TD Waterhouse) investors. The time-tested tenets of diversification, doing your homework, know who you are buying and why, still apply.

Sure beats investing in a 0.02 percent passbook account, plunging hundreds of thousands into real estate that could go underwater, stuffing dollars under the mattress or even playing the Roulette wheel in Vegas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lynch

http://25iq.com/2013/07/28/a-dozen-things-ive-learned-about-investing-from-peter-lynch/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/jim-cramer-stock-picks-money-tips/

http://www.salary.com/

 

 

 

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