Money: The Irish should not be green

ASK THE FOOL

Recently, you said "Never buy shares on a tip. Always analyse the company yourself." The tips usually come from professional analysts. What better means of analysing a company would a member of the public have?

VB, Devon

The Fool responds: That is an excellent question. Analysts are paid to produce regular recommendations, focused on short-term price movements. Long-term changes, over the five years or more that Foolish investors are interested in, just don't sell newspapers. Analysts also need to make recommendations at a furious pace (Investors Chronicle, for example, publishes around 300 main tips a year), and it is impossible to find enough good recommendations. The sad fact is that around 90 per cent of funds that are run under the guidance of these professionals fail to match the FT- SE 100 index over the long-term. Finding good investments is easier than the professionals would have us think, and The Motley Fool website (www.fool.co.uk) is devoted to just that analysis. Why not pay us a visit?

n If we publish your question, you'll win a Fool baseball cap. E-mail UKColumn@fool.com or post to Motley Fool, 79 Baker Street, London W1M 1AJ.

MY SMARTEST INVESTMENT

On holiday in Greece last year my son became interested in shares. A women appeared on the beach, giving away free bottles of Lucozade and T-shirts promoting the drink. My son told me I should buy shares in Lucozade, since they were obviously about to break into the Greek market. I told him it was not possible to buy shares in Lucozade, since it was only a brand name. He read the label on the bottle and discovered it was SmithKline Beecham. After a bit of research we bought some at 585p a share. They are now worth 840p each.

DC, Middlesbrough

The Fool responds: Well done Fool, you have discovered the power of the brand. Your follow-up research, too, was very Foolish indeed. If you do no more than look at popular brands and find out who owns them, the chances are you will have identified some of the best firms.

n Send us your smartest or dumbest investment story. If we publish it, you'll get a free copy of the `Motley Fool UK Investment Guide'. E- mail to UKColumn @fool.com or snail mail to Motley Fool, 79 Baker Street, London W1M 1AJ.

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