Move over Warren Buffett. Benjamin Graham, Peter Lynch, George Soros? Step aside. I've found me the ultimate guru of financial wisdom -- one whose sage investment advice is well-served by our Rule Breaker collection. Those who have had the pleasure of roadside dining in the South know full well what I'm talking about -- that's right, Waffle House.

With 1200 domestic locations, it's awfully hard to miss the greasy spoon diner boxes that line the highways this side of the Mason-Dixon. To the unfortunate few who have yet to come across the golden signage with big-block lettering, pity. They've served a quarter of a billion waffles since the first store opened in 1955. I'll admit to claiming about a dozen of those.

The Waffle House menu offers many Southern basics, but no hungry forward-thinking investor can deny the wisdom that comes hot-off-the-grill with the chain's signature hashbrowns. You can have them done up with onions ("scattered & smothered"), cheese ("covered"), ham ("chunked), chili ("topped"), and/or tomatoes ("diced"). Awesome. What an amazing approach to portfolio management.

It's not my intention to shake the walls of professional money management. I'm not trying to imply that a short order cook can outsmart the Wise. Wait a minute. I think I am. Here are the six golden rules of investing, thanks to the stock savants at Waffle House:

Are you diversified? Have you picked out a few choice equities -- and preferably in a few different industries -- or do you take a shine to one line brokerage statements? No matter how strong your conviction may run on a particular company, heading out to Vegas and laying all your chips on a single wager is a poor use of adrenaline.

While I can't see Rule Breaker ever losing its Internet slant, there is always room for a company that can command juicy premiums on something as basic as coffee or out to revolutionize the medical research industry as we know it.

How intimate are you with the companies you own? I'm not asking that you spoon-hug your stock certificates every day, but how familiar are you with your holdings? Being on a first-name basis with a stock is good. Being on a first-ticker-symbol basis is bad, bad, bad. Peter Lynch has always advised investors to buy what they know. And, while he's no Waffle House side dish, he's right. Warren Buffett has also been a major believer in understanding the companies one owns.

Some of our most successful investments, in companies like America Online (NYSE: AOL) and Iomega (NYSE: IOM), came from daily immersion. While they were still young, and possibly unproven, we laid out lawn chairs at the grass roots level and it made for the easiest of buy decisions.

A diamond in the rough is great, but one that has been certified by at least one gemologist is even better. A stock under analyst coverage will be more compelled to come clean with the investing community when results are running ahead or behind expectations. Naturally. Someone has to project projections in order to expect expectations.

This certainly doesn't excuse an investor from due diligence. No way. External voices are not crutches, they are tools. Analyst coverage is a great way to check your math after you have done the homework. Don't feel guilty if you become illuminated along the way. That's the beauty of consulting a second mind. Or a third. It's why our recent launch of Motley Fool Research is so important, but only to the extent of your thirst for knowledge and validation.

Is the balance sheet bulked up? A great concept will always fall short if the financials are too skimpy to see it through to completion. You'll want to keep an eye on those accounts receivables. There can always be too much of a good thing.

But if you strive to seek out the cash-rich and the debt-averse, you will rest a lot easier at night. At the very least, make sure the company reports way more in current assets than in current liabilities.

Not all Fools have been receptive to the AOL buyout of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), and a major sticking point has been the large amount of debt the company will be assuming in the process. I'm from the optimistic camp. I favor the deal. For an entertainment and broadband hungry online giant like AOL I think the new company will be great. I reflect back to my six-year-old's keen cartoon-influenced insight that AOL did what Wiley E. Coyote has never been able to do: land RoadRunner. But I too worry about these mixed balance sheet marriages.

Are you buying the top dog? Why would you buy anyone else? Let's head out to the thoroughbred race track. You get the program. I'll get the hypothetical. Imagine if you could freeze-frame any live racing event. You see the horses all laid out down the stretch. Now, imagine if you were able to place a bet at that point. The payout odds would be huge for the laggards, sure, but wouldn't you be inclined to side with the leader?

Now, sometimes there will be a late starter coming round the bend with enough momentum to turn heads. You can't ignore this. Owning the top buggy whip maker or the top banana in themed restaurants isn't going to get you very far. If the upstart seems genuinely capable of evolutionary change, rethink your strategy to consider who will be the top dog in the future. Otherwise, don't let the cynics tell you that quantity and quality can't come hand in hand.

Remember, more often than not, the "next Microsoft" turns out to be the "last Iridium."

One of the joys of equity ownership is just that: ownership. With that comes the temptation to dream big and let subjectivity brand you an optimist. Now is the time to temper your smothering. Don't get carried away. Never resist the exercise of slicing a company into pieces to see what makes up the sum. Objectively.

It's all too easy for one tainted sector to poison an otherwise sound company. It's also possible for a breakthrough in one subsidiary to create some tremendous upside for the company as a whole.

Concepts like America Online and (Nasdaq: AMZN) were actually picked over by higher ranking execs than Steve Case and Jeff Bezos at the companies they worked for. A cash cow like Post-it notes came out of a 3M (NYSE: MMM) project gone bad. So, peel away the layers of a company. If you find yourself in tears you either wound up with an onion or a pretty lousy stock.

Speaking of welling up, today we see eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) closing close to 14% lower on the very day it launches eBay Canada. Granted, the tech stocks were weak as the Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 6% today. Our collection of stocks also shed more than 7% with Celera (NYSE: CRA) giving back some of last week's spectacular gains.

eBay's new trading site offers the same cozy feel of the eBay original. A few categories, like CASCAR (Canada's NASCAR auto racing equivalent), have been added -- though the race to be the first listing in that niche was still on earlier this afternoon.

On the surface, the new venture might not seem all that necessary. The flagship site already has more than 175,000 Canadian sellers. Close to half of the 4.3 million auctions on eBay right now have checked off on global delivery. Why the localized touch?

Aesthetically it makes perfect sense. Now Canadian buyers and sellers won't have to sift through millions of auctions they can't participate in. Canadian currency also becomes the primary listing price. But, more than that, it sets up just one more barrier to entry for any company with delusions of competing against eBay.

Besides, until we get a Waffle House built up in Canada, this is at least one brand of hospitality we can graciously export.