Brief summary Buffett's methodology:
1. Has the company consistently performed well?
Sometimes return on equity (ROE) is referred to as "stockholder's return on investment". It reveals the rate at which shareholders are earning income on their shares. Buffett always looks at ROE to see whether or not a company has consistently performed well in comparison to other companies in the same industry.2. Has the company avoided excess debt?
The debt/equity ratio is another key characteristic Buffett considers carefully. Buffett prefers to see a small amount of debt so that earnings growth is being generated from shareholders' equity as opposed to borrowed money.3. Are profit margins high? Are they increasing?
The profitability of a company depends not only on having a good profit margin but also on consistently increasing this profit margin. To get a good indication of historical profit margins, investors should look back at least five years. A high profit margin indicates the company is executing its business well, but increasing margins means management has been extremely efficient and successful at controlling expenses.4. How long has the company been public?
Buffett typically considers only companies that have been around for at least 10 years. It makes sense that one of Buffet's criteria is longevity: value investing means looking at companies that have stood the test of time but are currently undervalued.5. Do the company's products rely on a commodity?
Buffett sees this question as an important one. He tends to shy away (but not always) from companies whose products are indistinguishable from those of competitors, and those that rely solely on a commodity such as oil and gas. If the company does not offer anything different than another firm within the same industry, Buffett sees little that sets the company apart. Any characteristic that is hard to replicate is what Buffett calls a company's economic moat, or competitive advantage. The wider the moat, the tougher it is for a competitor to gain market share.6. Is the stock selling at a 25% discount to its real value?
Buffett's most important skill is determining whether a company is undervalued. To do this, an investor must determine the intrinsic value of a company by analyzing a number of business fundamentals, including earnings, revenues and assets. And a company's intrinsic value is usually higher (and more complicated) than its liquidation value - what a company would be worth if it were broken up and sold today. The liquidation value doesn't include intangibles such as the value of a brand name, which is not directly stated on the financial statements. Once Buffett determines the intrinsic value of the company as a whole, he compares it to its current market capitalization - the current total worth (price). If his measurement of intrinsic value is at least 25% higher than the company's market capitalization, Buffett sees the company as one that has value to buy.