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How to Judge a Company by What Its Big Cheese Says to Interviewers.

By Malcolm Stacey | Saturday 8 July 2017

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Hello Share Pippers.  There are all kinds of tricks you can use to maximise your profits. Some of them may seem to make little difference, but over the long haul they’ll put thousands of pounds in your pocket.

The best way, of course, to make real money is to spot the turkeys in your portfolio. Or better still to stop putting them into it in the first place.

Many of us are beguiled into poor investments by listening to the big cheese of companies talk up their investments on-line, or on main television and radio news programmes. For example, in the business slot on Radio Four, I often hear what seems like encouraging words from business chiefs, but which I mistrust, merely because of how they talk.

And I'm quite an experienced judge, as I spent a working life doing BBC and other interviews. So here are a few possible danger signs.

If someone begins an answer to an interviewer, with the word ‘absolutely’, I put that down to over-confidence. If they say it before every reply, I became even more wary.

If the interviewee answers every question with ‘clearly’, I usually assume that the answer is going to be anything but clear. 

If every answer begins with a ‘well..’ I know someone is trying to grab a few seconds, perhaps to think of a complicated answer, which could be evasive.

If there a lot of cliches flying about, like ‘going forward’, ‘elephant in the room’ or ‘at the end of the day’, I take it that there is no real substance in what’s being said.

If the interviewed chief executive of a company puts in a lot of ums and ers, or seems nervous, he may be just as dithery in his business dealings. He probably won’t convince his customers or put up a good show at investor presentations.

Should the big boss keep referring to the interviewer by name as in ‘Well, Martha…’ I know he or she has been ‘media trained’. Another reason to take what’s being claimed with a pinch of salt.

If the company chief keeps giving an answer to a different question, I suspect he’s hiding something. If he or she talks in jargon, I guess they’re trying to hide inadequacies.

And if they are customers at the Punter’s Return I know that something is very wrong indeed. God bless.

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