Fool.com: Finding Your Investing Riff [Fribble] March 2, 2000

Fribble Finding Your Investing Riff

By Bob Bloomfield (bob4midi@aol.com)
March 2, 2000

My two favorite hobbies are investing and music. In many ways, they have metaphorical similarities. Let me illustrate.

I have been playing and writing music since my teen years. Before I was good at song-writing, I was a decent violin player. Then I learned about music theory and music composition. I learned how one style of music was different from others, such as classical versus rock 'n roll. As I developed my song-writing skills, I was able to develop my own style.

Similarly in stock picking, one learns the fundamentals such as sales and earnings growth, gross margins, etc. When one gets proficient at stock picking, a unique style emerges. Take the Gardner brothers. David's style of investing is Rule-Breaking companies. While Tom's investment style is Rule-Making companies.

While I was a music major in college, I was one of the few song-writing students. Most of the other students were far better musicians than me. Put sheet music in front of them, and they would play the notes perfectly. I liked to play around with the music, to improvise.

My musician friends would most likely be at home with mechanical investing. Show them what notes to play and they play it well. A mechanical investing strategy shows you what stocks to buy, and then you buy them. But you can choose different styles of mechanical strategies to suit your taste. There's the value style with the Foolish Four and PEG. Or there are the growth styles such as the RS26 and Keystone.

What if you're not musically inclined? You don't have to create or play your own music. You can listen and buy music created by others. Walk into a music store, pick up a CD from the shelf and take home the product.

If learning how to pick stocks is not your thing, then mutual funds are the perfect product for you. Like getting a variety of songs in a music CD, you get a variety of stocks in a mutual fund. The index fund is the preferred product for Fools, of course. It's been on the top 10 charts for years (beating 90% of the other stock mutual funds). Best of all, it's not likely to go out of style.