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Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Stratasys, Ltd. (SSYS), 3D Systems Corporation (DDD): Trend Spotting: Getting in Early vs. Playing It Safe

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Motley Fool analyst Jason Moser chats with Rick Engdahl in a side-of-desk interview about developing a personal investment philosophy, sharing his own four-point system for deciding whether a particular stock is right for his portfolio.

In this video segment Jason discusses the perils of trying to spot long-term trends early on. Did you get burned in the dot-com era? If you want to get in on the next big thing but avoid becoming a victim of the next big bust, start with a small position and stay informed as the industry develops and matures.

A full transcript follows the video.

The best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool’s free report “3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich” names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.

Rick Engdahl: If you’re looking for long-term future trends, how do you spot those, when they’re happening? Maybe you don’t concern yourself with that, but do you see something like 3D printing and say, “Oh, I want to be on the front end of that because that looks like a long-term trend,” or do you say, “That may or may not pan out, I don’t know?”

Jason Moser: Right, well it’s difficult initially. If you think about the dot-com bust back in 2000, when every Internet company, it seems, just faded away to nothing, it was really difficult to figure out. The very beginning of that time, where the Internet looked like it was such a big deal — and obviously it is — but there were a lot of players taking advantage of that movement.

Rick: Right, but that bust was really kind of a culling of the herd.

Jason: Exactly.

Rick: The story kept going.

Jason: The story kept going.

Rick: It really was a future trend. It was real — e-commerce, as you said. That’s a matter of picking the right companies, but you still spot the trend ahead of time.

Jason: Yeah, and I think that’s just it. You spot the trend, and then I think it’s really a matter of paying attention to it, and I think it’s a matter of learning about it. Just as quickly as you might jump into something because you feel like you know a lot about it or you’re very interested in it, you can also jump into something way too early, and it may not really pan out.

3D printing I think is a great example of something that, when the first mention of it came about a few years ago, a lot of people probably thought: “What in the world? There’s no way that works in any way, whatsoever. That’s just for the movies.”

I think it would have been very difficult to pinpoint the winners in that space, and it’s still so early in that game, I think that it’s very difficult to really pinpoint the winners.

You saw Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), for example. They had invested — or Jeff Bezos had invested — in a small 3D printing company that was acquired. Then you have Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS)  and 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD), so those are two companies that are really moving ahead of the pack and consolidating in order to take advantage of that technology that’s showing more and more benefits as time goes on.

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