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Your Homework: Prep for the Market Turnaround Now

I don't just blindly follow the activists into a situation. When I was a broker, I never just blindly followed the research department, either. That being said, there are some very smart activists who have been very successful in unlocking shareholder value. Following their SEC filings is an important part of my regular ongoing search for ideas.

There are several value-oriented hedge funds that I pay attention to on a regular basis as well. If Charles Brandes and John Paulson both own a lot of Boston Scientific (BSX - Get Report), I want to understand why. I might want to piggyback the position or at least make plans to buy it in a selloff. I pay attention to what investors like Tweedy Brown, Bob Rodriguez and others are doing. I may not like any of their latest purchases; then again, I have found an occasional long-term multi-bagger by staying on top of their positions.

The time to build your list is now. You want to have your ammunition ready long before the bugle blows. To succeed at long-term value investing, you must constantly be searching for ideas. Even when market conditions and the outlook are horrible -- as they obviously are now -- you have to run the screens and read the filings. There will be no bell before the bottom. As we get closer, you have to know what stocks you like and what price you want to pay. You have to do the homework.

Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Jackson Hewitt Tax Services and Darling International to be small-cap stocks. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.

This was originally published on RealMoney on Feb. 3, 2009. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney, please click here.

At the time of publication, Melvin was long DAR, although positions may change at any time.

Tim Melvin is a writer from Stevensville, Maryland, who spent 20 years a stockbroker, the last 15 as a Vice President of Investments with a regional firm in the Mid Atlantic area. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Melvin appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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