One of the most hallowed principles of investing legend Peter Lynch is that you should buy what you know. The concept is irresistible. Do you love the product? Then you might just love the stock!
Lynch has since come out and clarified that people were taking his words and applying them all out of proportion from what he meant. It's one of those pitfalls when you write about investing: If you make a maxim, people are bound to misapply it. Think those Morningstar
But there's a certain logic for thinking about what you like, and most importantly, what everyone likes when searching out investment ideas. Chipotle
Anyway, one of the things that my family and I like to ask each other is a variation of "which one would you choose?" As in, "If you had to choose shooting hoops with Michael Jordan, golf with Tiger Woods, or pucks with Steve Yzerman, which one would you take and why?"
With this in mind, I pose a question to you. There are three services that have comparable, $10-ish per month subscription rates. TiVo
So we have:
3. Satellite radio
All of these services have millions of subscribers, with substantial overlap. If you had to choose to subscribe to only one of them, which one would it be?
Obviously, for each person there is a different set of circumstances. The person who is on the road all the time would likely value satellite radio more; the person with kids at home may love Netflix. So there's no wrong answer. But here's the interesting part: think about which of the three the average person is going to choose as the one he or she prizes the most. Further, consider how much it costs to provide these services, and what the cost per marginal subscriber is. (Which is a fancy way of saying "how much does the company have to spend to add a customer?")
These are different companies, with differing levels of competition, moats, and economics. But in the classic Peter Lynch style, answering the question of what the average person values the most could provide some insight into which of these companies offers the most long-term promise.
To see what our 20,000-strong CAPS membership thinks of these three stocks, click here.
Bill Mann owns shares of Chipotle. Bill is the co-advisor for the Motley Fool Hidden Gems small-cap investing service. A free trial of Hidden Gems is but a click away. The Fool's disclosure policy would rather trade volleys with Roger Federer, naturally.