I don't need to tell you that the economy is still in a funk, and that many of the companies in your own portfolio are struggling these days.
At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.
If I asked you to describe the ideal company, what would you say? No, no, I'm not asking you to tick off your favorite members of the Fortune 500 or some up-and-comer small cap that you've just discovered. I want you to think about the characteristics you'd give a company if you could dream it right into existence.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb's best-selling book The Black Swan is probably loaded with more good advice than any other single source available. Read the book a few times, and you'll have a better understanding of risk and uncertainty than the vast majority of fancy-pants financial experts.
"It's the Mojave Desert," said Bill Smith, the vice director of economic planning. "There's not much other use for it."
That's a near-quote from a recent New York Times article on the growth of large-scale renewable energy projects out West. Of course, the "West" in question is western China, the desert is really the Gobi, and the bureaucrat's actual name is Wang Yu.
As fundamentals-focused long-term investors, Fools never base an investment decision on the daily gyrations of the market. But the market's daily price movements can be useful when looking for new stock ideas for further research, or to keep tabs on watch-list stocks.
Short-sellers and hedge funds, though sometimes shadowy, are sometimes seen as the smartest guys in the room. They did their homework and will bet their capital against the crowd. It's not the most popular way to go, but the rewards can be quite lucrative.
Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett is a value investor, right? Everyone knows that!
Well don't tell that to Gerald Martin and John Puthenpurackal of American University and UNLV. In 2008, the two completed what they call "the first rigorous examination of Berkshire Hathaway's investment performance" -- a paper that analyzed not only Buffett's superior investment performance, but also looked at his investing style.
When we think about companies in which we might invest, we tend to think about business models, growth rates, and profit margins. We think about the CEO and debt levels, and recent news. That's all good. But we shouldn't overlook a key factor that can be a powerful competitive advantage: customer service.
Based on the aggregated intelligence of 135,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, oilfield services expert Dawson Geophysical (Nasdaq: DWSN) has earned a coveted five-star ranking.