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Digging for Gold: Uncovering Investment Treasures with Phil Fisher’s Scuttlebutt Method

Harnessing Phil Fisher's 15-Point Checklist to Unearth Golden Opportunities

  • Unearthing Hidden Gems: Use Phil Fisher's Scuttlebutt Method to uncover overlooked stocks.

  • Beyond the Surface: Apply Fisher's checklist to analyze company fundamentals and prospects.

  • Diligent Digging: Wield expanded criteria building on Fisher's timeless framework.

Gold Nugget

Investing can often feel like an old-time prospector sifting through streams to find gold nuggets. In the world of finance, Phil Fisher is the legendary miner with a method that's as good as a trusty pan in a rich river. His Scuttlebutt Method, introduced in Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits (1958), is akin to a 15-point treasure map guiding investors to unearth hidden stock market gems.


Fisher's Original 15 Questions

Here are the exact questions Fisher posed, quoted directly from his book, along with descriptive titles:

  • Product Potential: "Does the company have products or services with sufficient market potential to make possible a sizable increase in sales for at least several years?"

  • Commitment to Innovation: "Does the management have a determination to continue to develop products or processes that will still further increase total sales potentials when the growth potentials of currently attractive product lines have largely been exploited?"

  • Research and Development: "How effective are the company's research and development efforts in relation to its size?"

  • Sales Strength: "Does the company have an above-average sales organization?"

  • Profit Margin: "Does the company have a worthwhile profit margin?"

  • Margin Improvement: "What is the company doing to maintain or improve profit margins?"

  • Labor Relations: "Does the company have outstanding labor and personnel relations?"

  • Executive Relations: "Does the company have outstanding executive relations?"

  • Management Depth: "Does the company have depth to its management?"

  • Cost Analysis: "How good are the company's cost analysis and accounting controls?"

  • Industry Position: "Are there other aspects of the business, somewhat peculiar to the industry involved, which will give the investor important clues as to how outstanding the company may be in relation to its competition?"

  • Long-term Outlook: "Does the company have a short-range or long-range outlook in regard to profits?"

  • Equity Dilution: "In the foreseeable future will the growth of the company require sufficient equity financing so that the larger number of shares then outstanding will largely cancel the existing stockholders' benefit from this anticipated growth?"

  • Communication: "Does the management talk freely to investors about its affairs when things are going well but 'clam up' when troubles and disappointments occur?"

  • Integrity: "Does the company have a management of unquestionable integrity?"


Some Additional Questions

While we deeply respect Fisher's seminal work, we at Exacta humbly ask additional questions to complement Fisher's timeless framework:

  • Economic Moat Strength: "Does the company possess a sustainable competitive advantage?"

  • Global Pricing Power: "Is the company a dominant global player with the ability to set its own prices outside of commodity markets?"

  • Quality Model in Favorable Dynamics: "Is the company's business model robust and positioned in a favorable industry and economic environment?"

  • Crisis Performance: "Has the company demonstrated the ability to sustain sales and profit growth during financial crises?"

  • Market Maturity: "Has the company successfully transitioned from a small-cap entity and sustained over five years in the market?"

  • Profitable Growth Balance: "Is the company able to grow without compromising its profitability?"

  • Organic Growth and Strategic Acquisitions: "Is the company's growth mainly organic, with any acquisitions being strategic and well-justified?"

  • Capital Expenditure Prudence: "Is the company's approach to capital expenditure characterized by low maintenance costs, suggesting efficient capital management?"

  • Positive Price Momentum: "Is there evidence of positive price momentum that supports the investment thesis?"

  • Resilience and Rebound Capability: "In the aftermath of a market downturn, is the company expected to outpace the market recovery and reach new heights?"

  • Potential for Enhanced Valuation: "Can the company's price-to-earnings ratio justify an expansion based on its unrecognized potential in current market valuations?"

  • Insider Confidence & Short Interest: "Are insiders buying or retaining shares, and is there a low percentage of short selling, suggesting confidence in the company's prospects?"

  • Contracting and Customer Dependency: "Is the company not overly reliant on contracting, concentrated customers, or suppliers with limited options for substitution?"

  • Industry Focus of Management: "Is the management team focused and specialized in their industry?"

  • Management Ambition: "Does the management avoid overexpansion and maintain a strategic approach to growth?"

  • Track Record of Growth Commitments: "Has the company's management historically succeeded in meeting their growth targets and delivering on their strategic promises?"

  • Leadership Aspiration: "Beyond present results, is there a strong case for wanting to oversee the company, driven by an understanding of its business model or the strength of its internal structures?"

  • Risk/Reward Assessment: "Is the investment expected to provide a higher upside potential relative to the downside risk?"

  • Perpetual Holding Appeal: "Would you be content with holding shares in the company indefinitely?"

  • Confidence in Major Investment: "Are you assured enough in the company's prospects to consider investing a substantial portion, such as 50%, of your investment portfolio?"


In the spirit of a true 49er, Fisher's meticulous process involves discarding the duds that fail to pass this rigorous vetting. It’s a journey that requires patience and perseverance, but the Scuttlebutt hunts could lead to finding the mother lodes of the investment world.

Don your adventure hat and start sifting through the financial rivers. With diligence and the Scuttlebutt Method, you just might strike it rich in the stock market. Remember, investing is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Stay patient, stay persistent, and keep panning for those golden opportunities.



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