Karl Marx for Investors
Have you read The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital? You should consider reading at least a condensed version of these works, because they might actually make you a better stock investor. (Not what K.M. had in mind, but a legacy's a legacy.)
The bulk of Marx's writing can be boiled down to two Big Ideas:
Oooo-kay. Now for a little analysis.
The revolution never happened the way Marx predicted, but he may have been on to something with idea #1, as long as you remember he was talking about companies that sell commodity items, and have to compete on the basis of low price alone. Companies like that tend to have low profit margins, and are vulnerable to any competitor with cheaper financing or a better way of running their operations. Commodity companies can be bad news for proletarians and shareholders alike.
Idea #2 is just ignorant. Profit is the reward for doing a good job of giving consumers what they really want. Societies that have tried to abolish the profit motive always have inefficient markets: shortages, and a general failure for supply and demand to come together.
So what's here for investors? First of all, you might stay away from the commodity type companies, and look for companies with an "unfair advantage": a strong brand name, or a patent, or anything that protects them from competition and lets them keep their prices high. Second, since profits are the reward for satisfying customers, you might look for companies with a reputation for customer satisfaction.
In other words, once you give Marx a shave he starts to resemble Peter Lynch or Warren Buffett. (Finally - something really revolutionary.)
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