Wouldn't it be great if Wall Street sent out smoke signals? White if it's time to buy. Black if it's time to stay away. Wouldn't investing be a lot more divine?
But picking a good stock doesn't seem nearly as easy as picking a good pope. I just have one question: Why? Why do we make it so complicated?
We know the qualities the cardinals want in the next pope: He must be decent and inspiring — others can quibble whether he should be more liberal or conservative. What's clear is that he should ooze integrity.
Good stocks are the same.
They must represent companies that ooze integrity and decency and consistency — in earnings and in ethics.
A good company proves itself over time, by not playing games, but very much playing by the rules.
Indeed, it's a cardinal rule among great companies: Stick to doing right by investors and investors will do right by you.
Such companies don't win over the fast-buck artists. But they have an art for winning over the rest of us over time.
Cardinals have a thing for lasting value. If we could see through the smoke and mirrors on Wall Street, we should too.
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