On My Watch

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Scuttlebutt - 2009

Trying to recover (along with everyone else) from market bloodbath - so this is what it feels like to be sliding into a Great Recession - I am rereading book on Warren Buffet - The Warren Buffet Way (by Robert Hagstrom Jr). This book talks about the legend's investment strategy as well as that of the two who influenced him - Benjamin Graham and Philip Fisher. While Graham was the dean of financial analysis, Fisher, the author of Common Stocks and Uncommon Profit was more qualitative, focusing more on manager quality than quantitative metrics.

Anyway, Fisher was a big advocate of what he called business "scuttlebutt" - essentially using the business grapevine - to find and evaluate the quality companies and stocks. This involves talking to suppliers, customers, company employees, and people knowledgeable in the industry, and, eventually, company management. Fisher even teaches how to the correct, company-specific questions. Common sense I guess but Peter Lynch, from Fidelity fame, is a big advocate of this approach - kicking tires, eating donuts at Dunkin Donuts, etc,

Fisher acknowledges the scuttlebutt method is a lot of work. It was in 1958 when it was written - requiring lots of driving and calling around. But this is 2009 - isn't this a perfect use of tools likeTwitter? Twitter is hot, Twitter is cool, Twitter evaluation is sky high - but Twitter believe it or not , is not for everything. But it or perhaps one of its current or future competitors could be perfect for this, for business scuttlebutt. Or at least a good start.

StockTwits may be closest thing so far although don't really offer much in the way of managing this sort of analysis.

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