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Hi Marty,

Can anyone offer a clear procedure for going about this task? Essentially what I'm asking is how
does one go about evaluating a company/stock--from the beginning to the final decision to buy or
not to buy (not to get cheesy w/Will)....

A good place to look at selection/evaluation techniques is "Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits"-Fisher.

For me it is a process that leads to a lot of dead ends. First I find, through screening, or reading, or conversation a key company or two that seem possible.
Often they are eliminated at the first look at their latest 10k. If not, I look for their competitors and make rough comparisons. Then the survivors are ranked on a spread sheet and assuming that leaves any companies on the list, I do a discounted cash flow analysis.

Most of the time this ends in no candidate that is better than the ones I currently own. If there is still a survivor, I construct a formal folder of facts and key data from 3 yrs 10k and 10Q's along with my intrinsic value figures. I also like to go thru the MD&A looking for successful fulfillment of goals and estimates. The folder(s) go with my current holdings for qtrly up-dating. Even at this stage it is more likely that I won't buy right away. Typical gestation period runs about 6 months for REALLY good probabilities. Many are abandoned in favor of newly researched possibilities.

It takes quite awhile and is still evolving. It FEELS Foolish, to me.

Take a look at the Fools RM Portfolio. That is a dandy way to get started evaluating businesses.

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