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Philip Fisher’s Approach to Qualitative Analysis

Philip Fisher's Approach to Qualitative Analysis


Welcome to our deep dive into the investment strategy of the legendary investor, Philip Fisher. Known as a pioneer of growth investing, Fisher’s name is synonymous with qualitative analysis and a long-term perspective on investment. His approach, based on exhaustive research and avoidance of herd mentality, has shaped the world of stock investment as we know it today.

Fisher’s unique investment strategy, which he outlined in his seminal work, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, has stood the test of time and continues to influence modern investors. In fact, his principles have even been adopted and further developed by his son, Ken Fisher.

Fisher’s Investment Philosophy

Central to Fisher’s investment philosophy is an unwavering emphasis on quality. This involves a deep dive into the qualitative aspects of a company, such as its competitive position, management prowess, and growth prospects. Far from being a follower, Fisher championed independent thinking in investment decision-making, steering clear of the crowd mentality.

The Scuttlebutt Approach

One of the standout features of Fisher’s strategy is his Scuttlebutt approach. This method involves gathering a diverse set of information through rigorous fundamental research. By analyzing varying facets of a company, including customer, supplier, and competitor analysis, investors can gain a well-rounded understanding of the potential investment.

The Power of Qualitative Analysis

Fisher’s investment strategy underscores the significance of qualitative analysis. By looking beyond the numbers and understanding a company’s financial health, industry dynamics, and competitors, investors can identify blue-chip stocks and achieve substantial long-term gains.

Stay tuned as we delve deeper into Philip Fisher’s investment strategy, revealing how his principles can guide both novice and experienced investors toward a successful investment journey.

The Scuttlebutt Approach

When it comes to investment strategies, Philip Fisher was a pioneer. His Scuttlebutt approach is a testament to his innovative thinking and steadfast dedication to qualitative analysis. This method, which involves gathering information from various stakeholders, has proven to be an invaluable tool in understanding a company’s potential for growth and long-term value creation.

Understanding the Scuttlebutt Approach

The Scuttlebutt approach is more than just financial analysis; it’s about digging deeper and gaining insights not readily available in public reports. Fisher’s approach involved talking to competitors to gauge the company’s market position, engaging with customers to understand product quality and reputation, and gathering information from various sources to identify potential risks and challenges.

For instance, consider an investment in an electric car manufacturer. As part of the Scuttlebutt process, an investor could talk to car owners about their satisfaction with the product, suppliers about production practices, and employees about the company’s culture. This depth of research can provide a more comprehensive understanding of a company and assist in making informed investment decisions.

Applying the Scuttlebutt Approach Today

Modern investors can utilize the Scuttlebutt approach by following these steps:

  1. Identify the Target Company: Select a company that seems promising for investment or growth.
  2. Gather Information from Diverse Sources: Use interviews, surveys, industry publications, social media, and trade associations to engage with stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and employees.
  3. Ask the Right Questions: Fisher’s book, ‘Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits,’ provides a comprehensive list of questions to gather information about the company’s products, competitive positioning, management proficiency, financial trajectory, and innovation commitment.
  4. Analyze and Validate the Information: Evaluate the information carefully, cross-check it with multiple sources, and assess its credibility. Remember, some information may be skewed or inaccurate.
  5. Piece Together the Mosaic: Look for patterns, trends, and insights to form a holistic view of the company’s potential for growth and long-term value creation.
  6. Incorporate Findings into Investment Decisions: Use the insights gained through the Scuttlebutt approach in conjunction with traditional financial analysis to make informed investment decisions.

This strategic method can offer modern investors a deeper understanding of a company’s prospects, and help uncover insights that may otherwise remain hidden.

For a comparison of the Scuttlebutt approach with another investment strategy, check out the method used by Fisher Investments, founded by Fisher’s son, Ken Fisher. The comparison may provide further insight into the effectiveness of qualitative analysis in investment decision making.

Through Philip Fisher’s Scuttlebutt Approach, we see the power of qualitative analysis in action, as it emphasizes the importance of understanding a company beyond what is disclosed in official reports, and serves as a reminder that the most effective investment strategy is often one that looks beyond the numbers.

Fisher’s 15 Points for Investment Selection

Philip Fisher, a legendary investor, introduced a qualitative approach to stock selection that has stood the test of time. His strategy, often referred to as Fisher’s 15 points, is a checklist that guides investors in identifying high-quality growth stocks. It’s a comprehensive approach that combines both qualitative analysis and investment strategy.

Detailed Overview of Fisher’s 15 Points

Fisher’s 15 points for selecting high-quality stocks serve as a guiding principle for investors, helping them identify companies that are likely to deliver superior performance over time. These points focus on various aspects of a company, such as its management, products, sales, profit margin, and more.

  1. Market 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?
  2. Management’s Determination: 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?
  3. Research and Development: How effective are the company’s research and development efforts in relation to its size?
  4. Sales Organization: Does the company have an effective sales organization?
  5. Profit Margin: Does the company have a worthwhile profit margin?

Application of Fisher’s 15 Points in Investment Analysis

To apply these points in real-world investment analysis, consider the following:

  1. Holistic Analysis: Fisher’s 15 points encourage investors to look beyond solely quantitative metrics and consider qualitative elements like management competence and ethics.
  2. Scaling in Investment Analysis: Fisher’s points help identify companies with significant growth potential and market dominance, leading to above-average returns.
  3. Understanding Valuations: Investors can analyze valuations to determine the optimal time for stock purchase.
  4. Dividend Yield: For long-term investors, dividend yield can provide stability and income, making it a crucial consideration.
  5. Management Evaluation: Assessing a company’s management team, their competence, and track record can provide insights into their ability to drive long-term growth.

Fisher’s 15 Points: A Practical Approach

Applying Fisher’s 15 points is not without its challenges. It requires a deep understanding of a company’s financial statements, industry knowledge, and competitor awareness. Moreover, while Fisher’s qualitative analysis provides a comprehensive framework for identifying ‘outstanding companies,’ it may not offer an easily-followable methodical approach for individual investors.

Here’s a summarized table of Fisher’s 15 points and their application in investment selection:

Fisher’s 15 PointsApplication in Investment Selection
Market PotentialIdentify companies with products or services addressing large, expanding markets
Management’s DeterminationLook for a management team committed to continuous product or process development
Research and DevelopmentAssess the effectiveness of the company’s R&D efforts in relation to its size
Sales OrganizationEvaluate the effectiveness of the company’s sales organization
Profit MarginDetermine whether the company has a worthwhile profit margin

To conclude, Fisher’s 15 points for investment selection have proven to be a timeless investment strategy. This qualitative analysis approach, coupled with the Scuttlebutt Approach, serves as a powerful tool for both novice and experienced investors.

Fisher’s Legacy and Influence

Philip Fisher’s legacy in the world of investing is profound and enduring. His qualitative analysis approach has redefined investment strategies, encouraging investors to delve deeper into the intrinsic value of companies. This has resulted in a paradigm shift in the industry, inspiring both novice and seasoned investors to adopt a more thorough approach to stock selection.

The Impact of Fisher’s Scuttlebutt Approach

The Scuttlebutt Approach, one of the pillars of Fisher’s investment philosophy, remains highly relevant and beneficial in today’s data-driven age. This method, which involves rigorous research on various aspects of a company, including its customers, suppliers, competitors, and market position, has influenced countless investors. Fisher’s insistence on understanding the industry, recognizing the competitors, and scrutinizing the quality of management has reshaped the way many approach their investment decisions.

This approach not only optimizes the investment strategy but it also empowers investors to make informed decisions. For instance, Fisher’s influence can be seen in his son, Ken Fisher, who has also made a significant mark in the investment world. You can learn more about Ken Fisher’s investment insights here.

Fisher’s 15 Points: Guiding Today’s Investors

Fisher’s 15 points for investment selection continue to serve as a practical guide for today’s investors. The focus on investing in superior companies with robust growth prospects and competitive positions has been widely embraced by value investors. Fisher’s emphasis on understanding a business’s intrinsic value, potential growth, and the importance of a long-term perspective are key takeaways that still hold true in the modern market.

The Criticisms and Limitations

Despite the value in Fisher’s principles, it’s important to acknowledge the criticisms and limitations of his approach. Fisher’s methodology demands deep qualitative analysis and understanding of industry dynamics, which might not be feasible for all investors. Moreover, some critics argue that Fisher’s writing style can be convoluted, making it less accessible for the average investor.

Regardless of these criticisms, Philip Fisher’s influence in the world of investing is undeniable. His principles continue to guide investors, underlining the importance of thorough research, understanding of a company’s value, and adopting a long-term perspective in stock investment.


Philip Fisher Resources

Many of our readers often ask about resources for further reading on Philip Fisher and his investment strategies. A few notable ones include:

  1. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits: This seminal book by Fisher outlines his investment philosophy and strategies, providing valuable insights into his approach to finding long-term growth stocks based on fundamental analysis.
  2. Conservative Investors Sleep Well: Here, Fisher expands on his investment principles, focusing on strategies for conservative investors looking to build a secure portfolio.

These resources offer a comprehensive understanding of Philip Fisher’s investment strategies and provide valuable knowledge for investors looking to learn from his expertise.

Applying Fisher’s Scuttlebutt Approach

Another frequent query we receive is how to apply Fisher’s Scuttlebutt approach in one’s own investment analysis. To do this, begin by understanding Fisher’s investment philosophy, as outlined in his book ‘Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits’. Then, gather diverse information from various stakeholders like customers, competitors, suppliers, and employees, making sure to ask the right questions. Cross-validate the information you gather, focus on long-term potential, mitigate risks, and leverage digital resources. Remember, the Scuttlebutt method requires careful navigation and discernment.

Relevance of Fisher’s 15 Points Today

The final question we’ll address in this section pertains to the relevance of Fisher’s 15 points in today’s investment landscape. Fisher’s 15 points are still incredibly relevant today. His emphasis on understanding a business’s intrinsic value, growth potential, and the qualitative aspects of management remain crucial for investors. While the specific industries and examples may have evolved over time, the core principles of Fisher’s investment philosophy continue to guide investors worldwide.


In the dynamic world of stock investment, Philip Fisher’s qualitative analysis continues to provide a robust framework for making informed decisions. His emphasis on understanding the intrinsic value of a business, assessing its growth potential, and using the Scuttlebutt Approach to gather insights, remains as relevant and practical today as it was when first articulated.

Fisher’s 15 points provide a comprehensive checklist for investors, guiding them to focus not just on immediate gains but on long-term value. His insistence on the quality of a business and its management has influenced generations of investors to consider the fundamentals of a business before investing.

Investment strategy, as Fisher advocated, is not about short-term market fluctuations, but about understanding the long-term potential and sustainability of a business. This enduring philosophy encourages investors to look beyond price and instead, delve deeper into the underlying value of a business.

The lessons from Fisher’s qualitative analysis serve as a compass, guiding both novice and experienced investors through the complexities of the stock market. His principles continue to illuminate the path to successful investing, underlining the power of patience, research, and long-term thinking in the pursuit of investment success.