Imitation Is the Most Lucrative Form of Flattery - TheStreet

Maybe your stock investments are doing well. Or it might be time for a minor portfolio tune-up.

Either way, you're fresh out of new stock ideas, or you just plain don't have time to sift through thousands of stocks. So what do you do?

You don't care for expensive newsletter subscriptions or investment services. And you don't want to lose control and pay high fees to professional managers or mutual funds for mediocre picks. Where can you turn?

I'm all for fast, simple and effective solutions in the Millionaire Zone. How can you get new investment ideas from seasoned investment professionals you agree with, without all the bad stuff?

Easy. Just find out what they invest in.

Now why haven't we thought of that before? Just look at the funds' holdings, and invest as they do, cutting out the middleman.

In fact, we've always been able to find out what stocks or other investments were held by a fund. But until a few years ago, funds were only required to disclose semiannually, usually in a printed schedule, and they didn't have to disclose all holdings.

A 2004


rule amendment, however, required investment companies to file complete portfolio holdings quarterly. So now, especially with the expansion of the Internet and mutual fund portals like

Morningstar and

Yahoo! Finance mutual fund and ETF pages, it's easier to synch up with the pros.

Of course, you can't synch up exactly, but you can get pretty close. And close is good enough if you take a long-term value approach like I do.

Suppose as a value investor, you have high regard for Oakmark's Bill Nygren and Legg Mason's Bill Miller, two of the most famous and well-known fund managers practicing the value style.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

Here's how you might draft them, and how you might also use value-oriented ETFs to show the way:

  • Oakmark Select -- Bill Nygren. You can check out Nygren's holdings on the Oakmark Web site or through Morningstar. Morningstar typically lists the top five holdings, but also carries quarterly press releases covering the top 25. You'll find that the top 10 holdings comprise 61% of the fund, and include such names as Washington Mutual (WM) - Get Report, Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Report, McDonald's (MCD) - Get Report, Time Warner (TWX) and the relative dark horse IMS Health( RX).
  • Legg Mason Value Trust and Opportunity Trust -- Bill Miller. Now, getting the complete list for every fund remains a bit challenging. Why? Because the SEC requires fund companies to file their holdings, but not necessarily by individual fund. But some companies, including Legg Mason, make it easy regardless.Visit the Web site to see all holdings of the Legg Mason Value Trust (updated quarterly). Or, if you want, check out the more aggressive Opportunity Trust site. You'll be rewarded with ideas like wireless provider NII Holdings (NIHD) - Get Report and IAC/Interactive (IACI) . You'll also notice some interesting industry picks -- steel, homebuilders and beaten-down names such as Eastman Kodak( EK).
  • Claymore ETFs. The new universe of boutique ETFs bring more stock ideas to light. One of my favorites is the Claymore family of funds because of their "Access to Innovation" approach to tying fund portfolios to clever indices. If you like companies with strong insider-buy patterns, take a look at Claymore Insider (NFO) - Get Report. You'll pick up on lesser known picks such as Mosaic (MOS) - Get Report, First Solar (FSLR) - Get Report and DeVry (DV) .

And why can't we use this idea to follow Warren Buffett's picks? Well, unfortunately

Berkshire Hathaway

( BRKA) escapes the 2004 SEC edict by not technically being a "registered management investment company."

If you don't have the who's who of value investing at your fingertips, check out, which is a handy portal. This site provides names of funds and fund managers adhering to the Buffett-Graham value style and offers links to their Web sites.

Maybe you're thinking, "Fine, but I've heard of these companies already," or "Just because it's on Miller's list doesn't mean it's right for me, and maybe that company's best times are behind it anyway."

That could be so, but seeing them on a pro's list makes them a better candidate to dig deeper. It's all about where to spend your precious time.

Jennifer Openshaw, a passionate advocate for helping Americans improve their finances and build their personal fortunes, is author of the hit new book

The Millionaire Zone

founder of

The Millionaire Zone, and

AOL's Personal Finance Editor. In addition to appearing regularly on such shows as Oprah, CNN and Good Morning America, Jennifer is host of ABC Radio's

Winning Advice and serves as an adviser to some of America's top corporations. Visit her at