When investors ask me if they should pick stocks, time the market, or use technical analysis to manage their investments, I tell them they need to have the time, the resources, and the expertise to do it. The evidence that Andrew presents throughout his book, and which is widely available, shows that, even with these, the odds are they won't outperform the market over the long run.
In addition to the evidence cited by Andrew, it is also well known that we have built in biases in our thinking that push us to make costly investment mistakes. I highly recommend the book by Jason Zweig, Your Money and Your Brain, that spells out these biases.
Still, as I said earlier, trying to beat the market is fun, challenging, and can be profitable. Although I haven't seen any evidence, I suspect it may be the #1 activity of retirees.
This chapter presents a nice overview based on Warren Buffet's approach to stock picking. I concur fully with the recommendation to limit stock picking (or active management in general, including positioning the portfolio on where you guess the market is headed) to 10% of assets. So, if you have $1 million ,you can go off into the sandbox and play with $100,000 IF YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY TO TAKE THE RISK.
In other words, if you're 45 years old and have $1 million in your qualified accounts (IRA + 401(k)), you can go for it. If you are 63 years old and looking to retire in 2 years with the same assets, you are probably not in position to take the same risk.
As an informational point, the research points Andrew mentioned, such as P/E ratio, debt levels, and return on capital, can be found at sites such as Yahoo! Finance and Morningstar. For those of you interested in stock screens, you may want to check out this discussion module at AAII.
It's hard to believe, but we are at the end of the book. The time has gone by fast. I hope that those of you who have stuck with the reading found it to be worthwhile and filled with principles that will help you as you build a nest egg.
I'll have an additional post shortly as a wrap up. For those of you in the area we'll have a face-to-face wrap up at the Miller Library on 12/10 at 7 pm.