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.
Below are the CEOs rated No. 15 through No. 11. Read below and I'll give some more detail, and at the end, offer up a special premium report on one of these five.
No. 15: Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC)
Swedish-based Ericsson provides network and Internet solutions for companies worldwide. CEO Hans Vestberg has been running the company since 2010, and has been a member of the Ericsson team since 1988. Vestberg has particular experience in emerging markets -- having worked for Ericsson in China, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.
Vestberg has also been a leader in focusing on humanitarian issues -- believing that Ericsson can help tackle issues of poverty, health, education, and climate change. This might help explain why 93% of employees approve of the job Vestberg is doing.
No. 14: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)
The post-Jobs era began as a surprise for Apple investors and employees alike. Though current CEO Tim Cook oversaw the company's stock rising to a record $705 per share, he's also been at the helm to see shares shrink 35% since then.
There's really no telling what -- if any -- product will be the next Apple megaproduct: an iTV? An iWatch? It's impossible to tell. But while investors may be panicking, employees are fully confident that Apple has a pipeline of products that will lead the company forward. A full 93% approve of the job Cook is doing, and they've also helped Apple rank as the 34th best place to work in America.
No. 13: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
Next is Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. While 93% of Amazon employees approve of the job Bezos is doing, I'll spend a second outlining what makes Bezos' reputation so important right now.
Most times, when a company spends outrageous amounts of money to build out infrastructure -- sacrificing short-term profits for a number of years -- Wall Street punishes that company by sending shares reeling.
Not so in the case of Bezos, who is busy building out an impenetrable moat that will be difficult for any company to match. You see, Bezos did this once before in the early days of Amazon, and he proved that the investment worked out.
Amazingly, with this round of spending, Wall Street is trusting Bezos, allowing the company to be worth $118 billion, even though it hasn't turned a profit over the past 12 months. It takes a special kind of CEO to pull that off.
No. 12: NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)
NVIDIA provides graphics chips for use in mobile devices, laptops, and supercomputers. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has been leading the company ever since its inception, having co-founded NVIDIA back in 1993.
The graphics chips industry can be a quickly changing landscape, and Huang has done a great job navigating the playing field, increasing earnings by almost 30% per year over the past decade.
Maybe one of the reasons 94% of employees approve of Huang's job is the pipeline of products coming out: the Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip, Project Shield -- a handheld gaming device -- and GRID, a server designed to deliver high-quality gaming experiences with an image 36 times sharper than previous iterations.
No. 11: ADP (NASDAQ:ADP)
Automatic Data Processing, or ADP, is one of the country's largest processors of paychecks for various types of companies, large and small. CEO Carlos Rodriguez has only been CEO for the past two years, but has been with the company since his previous employer, Vincam, was acquired by ADP in 1999.
Rodriguez claims that one of the reasons employees are happy is the company's culture, which has always put sales associates front and center. That move has paid off, and 94% of Rodriguez's employees approve of the job he's doing.