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I recently wrote about “my favorite question” but today I thought that there’s a question I don’t ask myself enough: “will this company be worth far more 10 years from now than it is today?”

This may be the most important question a long-term investor can ask because if the answer is not a resounding “yes!” then the company shouldn’t even be considered. And when the answer is a resounding “yes!” then that should only be the beginning of your due diligence.

This question makes an ideal preliminary screen because it inspires so many other questions important to the research process like “what are the specific threats to the company’s growth?” (competition, excessive compensation, executive hubris, etc.) and “at what valuation are these risks fairly priced in?,” for example.

I guess that investing for me is not about having the answers. It’s about asking the questions that, though they can’t be answered definitively, inspire the dialogue that leads to a broader, if imperfect, understanding.

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