Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy to dissect balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements. This is the first step in getting your feet wet in the investment world.
But it doesn't stop there. If we were to base investing decisions solely on what we read in these statements, that would be akin to picking a significant other based solely on their Facebook profile -- to many, it just doesn't make sense to avoid real-life interaction.
Investigating these "soft" aspects of a company is important for investors. And although we can't capture all of the intangibles of a company in one article, Glassdoor.com -- a website that collects employee sentiment for companies across the world -- recently came out with a list that could help: the Top CEOs of 2013.
Over the past few days, I've covered CEOs 25 through 7. Today, I'm going to introduce you to the company with the 6th-highest-rated CEO, give you some background on the company, and at the end, I'll offer access to a special free report that serves up a stock Warren Buffett only wishes he could buy.
US Bank (NYSE: USB )
This won't be too much of a spoiler, but the list of America's top 25 CEOs includes three chiefs of some of America's largest banks. I've covered JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE: JPM ) Jamie Dimon -- who has taken a precipitous fall from last year's 12th overall ranking to this year's 25th. That may be due in part to the London Whale incident that made Dimon's pleas for looser regulations seem hypocritical.
I also ran down PNC Financial's (NYSE: PNC ) Jim Rohr, who has been with his company since 1972, and was previously named American Banker of the Year in 2007. Sadly for investors, however, Rohr's tenure will soon be coming to a close.
That leaves us with U.S. Bank's CEO, Richard K Davis, as the highest rated CEO of a major bank in America. Davis has been with the company since 1993 and has served as CEO since late 2006.
Lessons in prudence from the Great Depression
Taking over a company just before the Great Recession took hold could not have been an easy task, but Davis was probably the best man for the job. According to an interview he gave with Titan Magazine, Davis keenly remembers the lessons his parents taught him from their experience of the Great Depression, such as growing up in Hacienda Heights in a home where the furniture was covered with plastic. He recalls drying the dishes with threadbare tea towels while a couple of dozen new towels languished on the shelf.
Those lessons came in handy. In the years leading up to the real-estate bubble bursting, "We were routinely criticized for not growing fast enough," Davis states. But that prudence paid off, as his bank was one of the first to repay the federal government's $6.6 billion in TARP funds -- accomplishing the feat all the way back in June of 2009.
While investors are certainly happy that shares of US Bank's stock have returned 250% since bottoming out in March of 2009, employees are also happy with the job this levelheaded CEO has done -- with 95% approving of his performance.
Another strong bank to consider
The price of becoming the world's greatest investor is that Warren Buffett can no longer make many of types of investments that made him rich in the first place. Find out about one such opportunity in "The Stock Buffett Wishes He Could Buy." The free report details a sector of the economy that Buffett's heavily invested in right now, and exactly why he can't buy one attractive company in that sector. Click here to keep reading.