17 Places to Find Investment Inspiration

by Julie Rains on 6 August 2013 1 comment

There are many great companies an investment professional can help you discover. However, there are just as many that create, sell, market, and distribute products and services you encounter on a regular basis.  (See also: 4 Quick Ways to Decide if a Company Is Worth Your Investment)

Be attuned to possibilities whether mentioned by your favorite investing newsletter or brought to your attention while on a shopping excursion. Here are a few places to look for promising investment opportunities.

1. Restaurants

Your dining experiences could offer benefits beyond nourishment. Well-managed, profitable, and fast-growing restaurant chains can benefit your portfolio. According to QSR Magazine (which covers news of quick-service and fast casual restaurants), shares in restaurant businesses outperformed the market in 2012.

2. Your Mailbox or Inbox

Companies that provide services to you and your family on a regular basis may be great candidates for investment. These firms often have a captive audience and generally enjoy consistent income from people like you. Think about your mobile phone service provider, utility company, etc.

3. The Shopping Mall

Come home from shopping trips with more than your favorite fashion finds or home renovation supplies. Check out specialty chains, big-box retailers, and department stores to determine which ones may hold potential for your portfolio. Investopedia provides a detailed guide on what to notice when shopping.

4. Your Financial-Services Firm

Your bank, brokerage firm, mortgage lender, and/or charge card provider may be a great place to take care of financial transactions and put your investment dollars. If you've vetted a financial-services company for sound business practices and friendly customer service, then you have already taken a step in screening the company as a candidate for your investment portfolio.

5. The Grocery Store

Companies that produce and market consumer packaged goods are well represented in the grocery aisles. The items that perform well in your kitchen may be worth considering for your portfolio.

6. On Vacation

A vacation exposes you to new ideas, new companies (perhaps regional restaurant or store chains that haven't yet entered your hometown's territory), and new brands. Plus, you might get to experience service from businesses in the travel and hospitality industry such as airlines, rental car companies, cruise lines, and hotel chains.

7. The Doctor's Office, Pharmacy, Hospital, Etc

Health care companies may be worth investigating. Top-rated companies are engaged in delivering technology solutions, drug treatments, and more. Learn about them as you navigate health services for yourself or family members.

8. Mutual Fund Shareholder's Reports

The holdings in your mutual funds may contain some high-performing companies. Shareholder's reports and other sources (such as Morningstar.com) list top holdings in mutual funds.

9. Lists of Green Companies

Your personal beliefs may lead you to search for new investments among businesses with environmentally friendly practices. Such companies may be more accustomed to innovative approaches to operations and use resources more effectively than their non-green counterparts. Check out green companies on lists from CNN Money and Newsweek's The Daily Beast.

10. Investment Club Meetings

If you happen to be in an investment club, meetings may provide you with lots of great investing ideas. Plus, you should have all the information needed to make an investment decision if you or one of your fellow club members has completed a thorough evaluation of the stock.

11. Online Stock Screeners

Stock screeners take your input and return results indicating stocks that meet your criteria. For example, Finviz.com offers a comprehensive stock screener that lets you specify P/E ratio, sales growth over the past five years, percentage of stock price compared to 52-week high, and much, much more.

12. Television

For many years, my father-in-law got many of his investing ideas from financial commentator Louis Rukeyser, who appeared on a PBS television show called Wall Street Week. I have only caught glimpses of current television shows, but they seem to differ significantly from Mr. Rukeyser's subdued style. Nevertheless, you may be able to get ideas from television shows like Squawk Box.

13. DRIP/DSPP Lists

Perusing a list of companies that offer a dividend reinvestment program or direct stock purchase plan may ignite ideas for investing.

14. Investor Newsletters

Many finance-related companies publish newsletters and host premium access websites that dispense investing ideas along with stock analysis and recommendations. Examples include The Motley Fool, Value Line, and Zack's Investment Services.

15. Full-Service Brokerage Firm

A full-service brokerage firm can supply you with investing ideas. Traditional brokers typically earn commissions when you buy stock, so they should be pitching companies on a regular basis.

16. Get-Togethers With Friends

Your friends may or may not have the best stock tips, but their professional lives and purchasing habits ought to give you some decent investing ideas. Buddies who work for pharmaceutical or semiconductor companies, for example, might share what's happening in their industries. Friends might also talk about their favorite tech gadgets, cars, clothing lines, etc., inspiring ideas about possible investments.

17. Your Parent's or Grandparent's House

Your parents or grandparents may have insights about great investments, especially if they have been in the market for many years. Depending on their investing savvy, you may or may not want to duplicate their holdings. But discussions with them about sound investments over their lifetimes may spark ideas about companies that could build wealth for your generation.

Consider choosing investments among familiar companies, whether you've identified them yourself or heard about them from investment professionals. You may be able to build upon what billionaire Warren Buffett calls a circle of competence. Follow businesses as a customer and investor to develop a better and better understanding of how to evaluate a company for long-term growth and profitability.

Where do you look for ideas about where to invest?

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I like investment clubs and friends. Those are where I usually find some of the best tips about companies and investments that I probably would have never known about. Its great because these are people you can talk to and ask questions face to face and not have to hunt down the information.