I am an individual investor and by no means a professional stock analyst (I am a chemist). I started buying individual stocks shortly before the tech bubble burst around the turn of the century. I lost a bit of money there! Later, I got the crazy idea that bank stocks were fantastic, and I loved the dividend streaming coming from my Bank of America (BAC) and Wachovia (WB) stock. I rode my WB all the way into the ground before ultimately selling it for a dollar a share. Yeah ... that sucked! Oh yeah, I was also the proud owner of Thornburg Mortgage at one point. Ouch! So you see, I know how to lose money rather well. I'm very good at it! :-) The other side of that equation is that I have learned from my mistakes. I more than recovered from my tech and bank loses by buying dull, conservative, "value" companies as the market bottomed in March 2009. I've learned to be cynical and cautious when picking stocks. In general, I favor "value" stocks over "growth" stocks. I believe in fundamentals, and think "technical analysis" is something better left to astrologers and fortune tellers. I still pick my share of dogs, but not too many. Finally, I am not a "day trader". Stocks I buy are stocks I hold. I sell or reduce my holdings if the situation warrants it, but I would prefer to "buy and hold".