18. Focus your portfolio on a few industries with strategic advantages and/or bargain valuations. Owning every industry is over diversification and keeps you from owning the best opportunities.

19. Focus on the medium to long term and de-emphasize the short-term. Where will your investments be 3 – 5 years from now?

20. Expect market volatility, but avoid portfolio volatility. Be prepared financially (cash reserves) and psychologically to buy more of the quality stocks in your portfolio when stock prices take a hit. Be prepared to sell your more expensive valuations when markets are frothy.

21. When researching dividend stocks, yield should be secondary to Dividend Coverage Ratios and Dividend Payout Ratios. These ratios provide insight into the safety and potential growth of a company’s dividend.

22. Look for companies with a moat. Companies with sustainable competitive advantages can dominate their industries. They have a high probability of surviving, and even thriving, in bad economic times. Companies that sell necessities have an advantage.

23. The Gross Profitability Ratio is a superior quantitative metric for finding companies with competitive advantages.

24. Cash Flow From Operations is a critically important company metric because it tells you how much cash a company is generating from core business operations. Look for companies with strong predictable cash flows.

25. Invest in companies with great management. Management controls the cash flow, or where the company’s capital is allocated.

26. Understand Enterprise Value because it represents the total value of a company’s equity shares. Essentially, this is what you would be paying if you were buying the whole company. Just because you are buying a fractional share, doesn’t mean you would treat your money differently.

27. Use Operating Earnings Yield to compare stocks. This is a profitability and valuation ratio. This metric tells you how much operating earnings the company is producing compared to the stock price.

28. The Piotroski F-Score is an easily accessible metric that combines nine tests in profitability, capital structure, and operating efficiency. It’s an easy approach to identify companies with good fundamentals and eliminate weak companies.

Interested in Dividends?

29. Compare companies you’re considering for purchase to the best stocks in your portfolio. If they don’t measure up; don’t buy them. If the price is too high; wait. (Patience)

30. Only buy stocks that are priced with a Margin of Safety. Refuse to overpay. Many times that means passing on great companies, or at least waiting for a better value. (Patience)

31. Companies with great balance sheets have can withstand unforeseen problems or economic downturns that can harm leveraged companies. I have found that Net Financial Debt Ratios provide greater accuracy in identifying attractive companies than the more popular debt ratios that don’t account for cash balances.

32. After all these cautionary rules and strategies are taken to heart, realize there is NEVER a perfect time to invest. Uncertainty is a part of investing and that is why it’s important to invest with the odds in your favor.

33. Cash is an important asset category to protect your portfolio in bear markets, and provide capital to buy assets when they are at bargain values.

34. Work hard and do your homework. If you need help hire wise experts to help you.

These investment strategies and rules will make you a better value investor. You will reduce your number of mistakes and avoid many of the pitfalls that wreck investment portfolios. By concentrating on taking prudent risks that favor positive returns you boost your long term investment returns.