January 27, 2005
Tifton-- A lot of people wish they could find those stocks that zoom in value, that pay big dividends, but it always seems other investors get those big breaks. But take heart. A South Georgia man consistently beats the Wall Street experts year-after-year with old fashioned tools of the trade.
"Here we go," says Billy Lankford as he walks into the Tifton Post Office, a mid-morning visit that helps satisfy his craving for another a day. "Like it better when I get a dividend check," says Billy, after he opens his post office drawer and retrieves a special newspaper that he'll spend most of the day with.
The Wall Street Journal becomes his daily fix, his financial guiding light, where he looks to see if he has money, in the form of dividend checks, coming his way. "Dividends today are on C-5," says Billy, sitting in a brown leather chair in his living room and starts reading the paper.
He knows the Journal so well that he memorizes where certain information waits. The paper lists companies who will pay dividends soon, but the listing didn't include any of the stocks he owns on this day.
He might get better news tomorrow. "Let's see if we can find the earnings," says Billy, the second stop on his daily reading of the paper. Billy Lankford can find Wall Street's winning stocks better than most professional traders, and since 1962, he's made an average 35 percent a year, beating the historical average market gain of 12 percent. "I'm hanging on," says Billy with a laugh.
Most people who know him know he does more than hang on. He profits. How does get the phenomenal gains? He counts on history repeating itself. "If you buy a stock that's been good for the past five years, you can hope maybe it will do good for the next five years," says Billy.
He sees the stock market differently than most people, as a way for other people to work for his financial interest. "If their sales are increasing, their earnings are increasing, they are working for you and you're sitting home doing nothing," says Billy, but he doesn't just sit home.
Everyday, Billy Lankford looks for someone to hire. "Yeah, that's the idea," says Billy who pays attention to three particular rules of investing. "Profit margin. Profit margin. Profit margin," says Billy, who checks the profit margins with his trusty and well used slide rule.
He gets his investment ideas watching CNBC and then researches the recommended stocks with one factor in mind. "I'm interested in making money, and not where they are located or what they make. I'm just interested in how much money they make," says Billy.
He helped start a local stock club long before stock clubs were popular. In 43 years, club members invested about $13,000 each. Now, each member has $207,000 worth of investments. No bad for a self-taught investor who retired from the restaurant industry.
Why does an 83 year-old man spend hours and hours researching the stock market? "It's fun," says Billy holding his slide rule. Fun if you make more money than you lose. "Everybody loses," says Billy, but not for long if you follow his lead, and not blindly follow the rest of the investing fold.
Billy Lankford stays away from companies that have a lot of retirement pensions to pay, considering those payments a huge consideration in his decision to buy or not by a particular stock.
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