The Wall Street Journal Reviewed

How much do you think about stuff you do every day? You brush your teeth; you browse the Wall Street Journal. Both are good habits, but rarely thought provoking.

When I go on vacation, I sometimes forget to suspend my subscription and when I return my mail is stacked in a box. Recently, feeling as if I needed a vacation from my vacation, I spent an entire day reading all the back issues of the Journal with more care than usual. I also had a pre-season baseball game on to keep my brain from exploding. I have now come to the conclusion that the Wall Street Journal is full of stuff that is not remotely interesting to an investor. It reminds me of the old days when Playboy ran articles about quadraphonic 8-track stereos. A young man at the time, that was not why I bought Playboy.

User’s Guide To The Wall Street Journal

So here is what I’ve learned, a user’s guide to the Wall Street Journal if you will.

First thing to skip are all the editorials. The same drivel is available on FOX News, using only simple sentences and a 500 word vocabulary. Politics and social issues have a place in investing publications, but the topics should be related with detachment. In college, I was taught the worship of the gods had a significant influence on ancient Greek society. At no time did my professor try to convince me I ought to be praying to Zeus.

Next, who reads those all those recipes, wine recommendations and fashion tips? Shouldn’t those people subscribe to “Martha” or watch “Bravo”? The next big investing idea will not be found in a casserole dish. I admit, I did read a few car reviews and an article about Tim Tebow and Payton Manning. The baseball game was in commercials during the innings break, so what the hell. I don’t bet on sports, but if I did, I would not consider the sports writers for the Wall Street Journal to be useful handicappers.

Skip everything on the first three pages with bold headlines

And you can skip everything on the first three pages with the bold headlines. If a story has a bold headline, it’s too late to be useful to an investor unless he is a masochist and needs all the details of how he was defrauded or why his stock tanked.

But enough about what’s wrong with the paper. There are usually useful nuggets of investing information inside, though it’s like panning for gold. It’s time consuming and you have to be willing to sift through a lot of silt. At least let me tell you where I’ve had the best strikes.

The sections worth reading are “Marketplace” and “Money & Investing”. The big stories will give you the macro info on various industries, but the nuggets are found in the small stories in the boxes. A couple of years ago, I found a story that an Australian gold company had become the first outsider to be given a license to mine in China, two paragraphs. With Chinese labor, Australian know-how and gold surging in price, I had to check into it. Sure enough, Sino Gold was a public company listed on the Sydney Exchange. I bought. A year later, after a huge price appreciation, Sino was acquired by ELDORADO (EGO) Gold. Small nugget, big strike.

Another small story in a box last year about DIAGEO (DEO) had a picture of Prince Charles at the expansion ceremonies of this spirits producer powerhouse. The story was that the Chinese have developed quite a taste for good scotch. That made sense to me, so I bought. Even in this bad European market, DEO keeps going up.

You just have to know where to look

I can bore you with more. Where did I find WESTPORT (WPRT) way before Cramer? You guessed it, in a small box story in the Wall Street Journal.

The nuggets are there; the Wall Street Journal has gold to be found. It just takes work and knowing where to look. I have renewed my subscription.