This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series.
Life is nonlinear. During most weeks, months, and even years, extraordinary events do not transpire, major milestones are not passed, and inflection points are not reached. Think about the typical college cycle: You work (among other things) for four years, and each individual day -- savored as it may be -- is not tremendously unlike those before it. Then in a flurry of activity, you graduate, move, perhaps start a job, and drastically change your lifestyle. The same pattern holds for fitness, relationships, careers -- and, yes, investing.
Investing, especially the way the Young Gun Portfolio sets about it, is about being opportunistic. Being opportunistic involves hunting for fat pitches. Fat pitches are not only rare; they are nonlinear. They come along infrequently, and when they do, they often come in bunches. Think about March 2009. There were plenty of ways to be opportunistic then.
What to do in the dry spells
So what is a Young Gunner to do during the dry patches? One thing I do, as I mentioned here, is build up my arsenal of potential ideas -- investments I'd love to make if something changes, usually price. But that still doesn't tell you what to do if you are sitting on loads of cash. Just because you aren't receiving a series of fat pitches at the moment doesn't mean you want your hard-earned cash sitting on the sidelines.
The Young Gun strategy is simple: Use placeholders. A placeholder is a company you'd be happy to own at almost any reasonable price. For me, there are three main types.
No. 1: Other jockeys
We can put unallocated cash in the hands of great investors. Berkshire Hathaway
No. 2: Great companies you know and love
There are companies that I simply consider great: Their competitive strengths are undeniable, their capital allocation is spectacular, and management is top-notch. These companies are in my arsenal, and at the right price they'd quickly command large chunks of my portfolio. In the meantime, I consider putting extra cash to work in one of these reasonably valued companies. These return-on-invested-capital machines will create shareholder value over the long run; they can also make a great short-term parking space.
Companies in this category differ among investors. Costco
No. 3: Potential No. 2's
My investing style has me spending the bulk of my time researching small, often obscure companies. That's where I like to play, but spending all of my time hunting those grounds might preclude me from unearthing the next "great company I know and love." Therefore, I consider it important to devote time to learning about new great businesses -- regardless of size or obscurity. I look at popular hedge funds holdings, run simple screens for cheap large caps, and, most importantly, ask around.
With that, I turn to you, fellow Fools: What do you consider "great companies you know and love"? I've shared three of mine with you -- return the favor with your favorites on the Young Gun discussion boards. You can also follow the Young Gun Portfolio on Twitter.
This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series, where we give some of our most promising stock analysts cold, hard cash to manage on the Fool's behalf. We'd like you to track our performance and benefit from these real-money, real-time free stock picks. See all of our Rising Star analysts (and their portfolios ).