How do I find great stocks to buy?

Investing can be fun and rewarding, opening up a world of opportunities for you as a result of the life-changing wealth you’ve accumulated through shrewd decisions and savvy insights.

Or it can be as productive as shoving 20-dollar bills into a blender set to mince.

The difference is largely in the specific investments you make. So how do you find great stocks to buy?

There are as many answers to that question as there are stocks in the market. Some people rely on fancy-looking charts and graphs that show the very lowest a stock can go … right until it goes lower. Others follow the advice of TV talking heads … who sometimes seem as if they’re paid by the trade they suggest.

At The Motley Fool, we embrace a long-term, buy-and-hold strategy that focuses on finding great businesses and investing in them for years or even decades. (Incidentally, that strategy has worked out pretty well for us — in 2013, The Wall Street Journal proclaimed, “Forget the chatter, buy and hold still works,” when the paper announced The Motley Fool ranked 1, 2, and 3 in the Hulbert Financial Digest’s five-year rankings of more than 200 investment-advisory services.)

So, how do you find great stocks to buy?

We recommend seeking out great and amazing growth-opportunity businesses, rather than relying on a mechanical formula. We ask ourselves where the company, not the stock, will be in the next 3-5 years and beyond. We look at criteria such as competitive advantage, market opportunity, strength of leadership, and other characteristics that are tough to plug into a financial calculator.

Don’t get us wrong — there’s value in uncovering and understanding a company’s financials. But we approach the market with a “business-owner” mentality rather than a “stock-buyer” one.

With that said, here are three specific ways to find great stocks to buy.

CAPS

Motley Fool CAPS brings community intelligence to bear across the entire long tail of the stock market. A CAPS rating indicates a stock’s potential to outperform the S&P 500 as determined by our community. These ratings are merit-based — we construct our stock ratings based on the transparent, accountable calls of more than 75,000 Fools, and we weight those stock picks based on the ratings of the people making them.

That’s right, CAPS stock ratings show you the best ideas from the best stock pickers, and the “best” are the one’s who’ve earned the right to be called so. They’re not just people with a Wall Street business card, or their own TV shows. Accountable stock-picking: fully tracked, rated, ranked, and scored.

Have a look at the rating for any stock you may own or are considering — plus thousands of others! Simply click here to get started. CAPS is a free service.

Premium services

If you’re looking for a little more guidance in your search for great stocks to buy, The Motley Fool has a suite of investing services that cater to a range of interests, styles, and timelines. As we mentioned above, they’ve done pretty well. Click the link to find out which Motley Fool service is right for you.

If you’re looking to get started, we suggest Stock Advisor, our flagship service with a general approach that will help a broad range of investors. Here’s a link to start your Stock Advisor membership, available now with a 7-day free trial. You’ll get instant access to the latest picks, the team’s Best Buys Now, and all the recommendations in the service’s decade-plus of crushing the market.

And so much more…

In addition to CAPS, and our premium services, The Motley Fool has an array of content to help you find great stocks to buy. Head to our homepage and explore our free and timely articles, our podcasts and award-winning radio show, our discussion boards, and the rest of the motley array of advice, insights, and analysis.

And as always, Fool on!

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