When someone buys individual stocks, it seems to me that investing skill comes in three stages. You have that first stage where you struggle to dissociate changes in the price of a stock from changes in the enterprise that it represents. In the second stage, you’re not worried about Wal-Mart falling from $63 in 2008 to $46 in 2009 because you know that earnings are growing from $3.42 to $3.66 (with a dividend increase to boot) so you can tune out the noise and assess the health of the enterprise.
The third stage is the tricky one, where even the best will still make errors: trying to figure out which stocks are “value investments” when the price of a stock falls while earnings deteriorate. The purpose is trying to figure out whether the amount of the earnings impairment is less than the amount of stock price decline, as well as … Read the rest of this article!