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Sozzi's Day Ahead: The 'Art of War' Investment Guide

Father Time is brutal and ugly, he will sneak up on you without any advanced notice. Such was the case as I realized the label on the Art of War paperback that I have reread consistently said: "Borders $7.95." What a wonderful reminder that in the end, the advancement of technology will likely cause Staples (SPLS - Get Report) to close more stores than it has admitted to investors and that RadioShack (RSH - Get Report) truly has no place in modern retailing. Within the Art of War, there is a quote that applies perfectly to investing amid all of the daily helpings of tomfoolery.

Master Sun: "The contour of the land is an aid to an army: sizing up opponents to determine victory, assessing dangers and distances, is the proper course of action for military leaders. Those who battle knowing these will win; those who do battle without knowing will lose."

At the risk of being overly dramatic, but you are the military leader of the portfolio of stocks you own. Along with the constant requirement of surveying the landscape of digitally fed macro data and then synthesizing the opinions of the machines and humans, both representing opponents, there is a search for fresh ideas. I have this funny feeling that after the market traded higher on Thursday following days of heading lower, there was a sense the boat may be leaving the dock again. Summer rally back on? This is the name of the game in investing -- reading of an up session for markets on an iPhone app creates excitement. Gone is the excitement of finding a line in a 10-Q that gives hope about a company's quarter and then discovering through rigorous, weekend-ruining research that the valuation prices in none of that hope.

I understand the game and have been watching a true evolution in the investing process from the moment I scored my first gig on the Street one week out of college. Do I think this is OK? No, but that is the old school training housed in my brain. The new school in me builds investment logs every day as opposed to developing four new multi-factor models by the sound of the closing bell.

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