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Author: topspincharlie Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Global Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 847  
Subject: How do advisers make the picks Date: 3/7/2008 2:05 PM
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I'm hoping the advisers can give a little insight as to what goes in to making a pick. How long do they typically research a company before they make a pick? Are they usually sitting on a watchlist for months or years? How long prior to when the newsletter comes out, that they have their selection. Are there times when the deadline is coming and they don't have a good stock in mind, so they scramble at the last minute for an idea? At what point in the researching process do they say "ok, this is the best opportunity and I'm going forward with this idea and leaving the contenders behind." Or, on the flip side, they decide it's not worth pursuing (even though it may look good on a screen).

I was thinking about this while reflecting an interview that Buffett gave: (http://undergroundvalue.blogspot.com/2008/02/notes-from-buffett-meeting-2152008_23.html)

In it, he states "The philosophy either takes immediately or it doesn’t at all. The reason gets down to temperament. People want to make money fast, but it doesn’t happen that way. Graham’s philosophy doesn’t promise enough for many people. You don’t know when it will happen, but you just wait for the fat pitches within your circle of competence. It’s not as exciting as guessing whether the stock price will go up the next day. Most investors in internet companies didn’t know the market cap. They were buying because they thought the stock would move, but if you asked them to write “I would buy XYZ company for $6 billion because”, they wouldn’t get halfway through the sentence. It’s the classic tortoise versus hare, bound to work over time. Charlie and I have educated competitors. Most don’t compete with us, though. It’s fine, we have more than enough money."

Then I got to thinking about what the processes that our advisers might be. I gained a lot of insight from Bill's AOB notes. The write up, while dated, is positive and incredibly detailed and fairly positive. It never made the grade for a GG pick, but the work that went in to this research is significant. Then, you have a pick like JLL which came from a stock report (and may or may not be a pick for another newsletter:). This is a company that Bill has several connection with; his brother works (or worked) there, his father has written about it in the past, and the Fool is a customer.

As a side note, if there is ever a Fool investors event, I think a seminar discussing how to winnow down the universe of stocks to a single best idea would make a good seminar, especially if Bill et al sprinkle in a lot of examples of what worked and what didn't from their previous picks.

-Topspin
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