David Gardner Shares 3 Keys to Picking a Great Stock

Co-founders Tom and David Gardner look back on The Motley Fool's journey with Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) since first purchasing it in September 1997. The brothers discuss the ups and downs they've seen with the stock, now a 100-bagger for the Fool.

Everyone wants to get in early and be part of the next big thing. How did David Gardner know that Amazon was going to be a winner? In this video segment, he shares three factors that played into his decision to buy into Earth's Biggest Bookstore.

A look at America's business legends
Not every CEO can be as successful as Jeff Bezos has been with Amazon. But during the past two years, Motley fool co-founder and CEO Tom Gardner has made it his personal mission sit down with dozens of the world's brightest investors and business minds on behalf of his Motley Fool ONE members -- we're talking true American legends like Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey, Costco founder Jim Sinegal, and even Vanguard founder Jack Bogle -- as he scours the globe to find the next great company to provide Amazon-esque returns.

On March 20, this "crown jewel" service will reopen to new members for only the third time ever. And to celebrate, Tom would like to offer you a front-row seat to watch these visionaries share the keen insights and unparalleled business acumen that got them to where they are in life.

Even if you aren't an investor, the business lessons you'll take from these conversations are priceless. So please click here to access our Motley Fool ONE member lobby and our entire collection of these interviews absolutely FREE of charge!

Tom Gardner: Hi. Tom Gardner and David Gardner here, co-founders of The Motley Fool, and we're here to talk about the incredible investment that has been Amazon.com.

Since buying Amazon.com in 1997, the stock is now up 100 times in value for you, so part of this is a celebration of long-term investing, of finding great businesses, and of getting incredible results. But the first part of our conversation today, Dave, I just want to hear a little bit about how you found Amazon, what you were looking for, and a little bit about the Rule Breakers methodology, particularly as it applies to Amazon.

It's a $165-billion company today, but if you rewind and take it back, the 100-bagger, it's a small cap at that point, or a relatively small company. What were you looking for, and why did you make your first investment in Amazon?

David Gardner: I think there are three things I'll just point out right out of the gate, Tom.

No. 1, it was a company that had a visionary leader, and it was a leader at the time. It was perceived to be that. It's was "Earth's Biggest Bookstore" -- I still have the mouse pad, by the way -- when I first recommended it, but it was very clear they'd named it "Amazon." It wasn't "OnlineBooks.com," so you saw a visionary leader in play.

Second thing, the stock had already doubled from its IPO before we bought it on Sept. 9 of 1997.

Tom: Now, that would be a reason that a lot of people would stay away from it.

David: Absolutely. I asked myself, "Did I miss this? Oh, darn." Obviously, we'd be talking about a 200-bagger today had we bought three months earlier, but absolutely no regrets. In fact, so often in my style of investing, we're buying the company after it's already doubled. That's happened any number of times in Rule Breakers and Stock Advisor among our best picks.

Third, I was in touch with it as a consumer. I was using Amazon; I'm pretty sure you were, too. You couldn't really miss it. It was for people who loved e-commerce -- and there were big doubts at the time, maybe we'll talk about that later -- big doubts that e-commerce would even work, or could work as expansively as it turns out it has.

I'm by no means the visionary who was saying, "Look at what e-commerce would become." We were kind of thinking through it, looking for it a little bit, ourselves. But to be a consumer, to be using it, to be in touch with that -- helpful.


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