The following article is part of The Motley Fool's "Stock Madness 2006," based loosely on the annual NCAA College Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness. Throughout the competition, our writers and analysts will engage in head-to-head competition. You, dear readers, are the fans and referees -- after you read these exciting duels, your votes will determine who moves on to the next round of play. The writer who survives the tournament will be our champion and most valuable "coach."
But, please, make no mistake -- "Stock Madness 2006" is a GAME!
Hmm, for a young guy (Tim's one Fool who makes me feel old as the hills), Tim's team sure is old-school. (He admitted it himself in Round One.) That foam "We're No. 1" hand gets a little floppy when the team brings on an afternoon snooze.
Here's Tim's team -- Valero, Old Dominion Freight Lines, National Research, American Financial Realty, and Berkshire Hathaway. Most of them are stodgy, plodding, and complicated, and researching them properly might put you to sleep quicker than a hit of Ambien. Wake up! My team not only represents growth, but businesses you can actually understand.
For us typical investors, in-depth comprehension of the industry intricacies in most of Tim's team is not a foregone conclusion. I'd rather take a page from Peter Lynch -- "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." For some of Tim's team, you might need the 64-pack. Berkshire Hathaway may have Warren Buffett, but the insurance industry isn't known to be particularly easy to understand.
Personally, I'd leave investing in REITs to the experts -- they're analyzed differently than most other investments. Meanwhile, American Financial Realty has an unorthodox strategy in an already complex industry. It's also been noted that short interest in REITs has been high recently, which could imply that the industry is overvalued.
So you want to do some research and firsthand observation on Valero? Yeah, just head on over to your local refiner. Most of us wouldn't be able to understand what the heck's going on anyway, except that it's pumping fossil fuel. What about stringent environmental regulations (grab your soil sampler!) and fluctuations in oil prices? It's a complex industry at the mercy of global politics -- now more than ever.
Admit it, you've never even heard of National Research. Old Dominion? It's vulnerable to economic fluctuations, regulation, and heavy competition.
My team -- Yahoo!
Tim Hanson's rebuttal
Actually, it is easy to understand why a company like Valero would make a great investment. Its P/E is in the single digits, it earns industry-best margins as one of the only companies equipped to refine sour crude, and there's a better chance that Americans will stop driving cars than there is of someone building a new refinery in the United States. That's the exact kind of crayon illustration Lynch looked for.
And you know what else Lynch looked for? Boring companies with boring names in boring businesses. In that regard, Berkshire Hathaway, Valero, Old Dominion Freight Line, American Financial, and National Research couldn't be any more perfect.
Alyce Lomax owns shares of Urban Outfitters, but of none of the other companies mentioned. Fool editor Tim Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Valero, and American Financial Realty. The Fool has a disclosure policy .