First, you need two piles. You have to segregate businesses you can understand and reasonably predict from those you don’t understand and can’t reasonably predict. An example is chewing gum versus software. You also have to recognize what you can and can not know. Put everything you can’t understand or that is difficult to predict in one pile. That is the too hard pile.
Once you know the other pile, then its important to read a lot, learn about the industries, get background information, etc. on the companies in those piles. Read a lot of 10Ks and Qs, etc. Read about the competitors.
I don’t want to know the price of the stock prior to my analysis. I want to do the work and estimate a value for the stock and then compare that to the current offering price. If I know the price in advance it may influence my analysis..
following Warren Buffett – American value investor, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (b. 1930), Quotations book 2013