When it comes to stock picking, there are a lot of different opinions on what is the key to success. Some people believe that it's all about luck, while others think that skill and analytical thinking are essential. 

In this article, we will explore both sides of the argument and try to conclude whether or not stock picking is luck or if there is more to it than that.

Is stock picking luck or does it require skill? 

Many people believe that stock picking is all about luck. You either have it or you don't. But is that really true? There are a lot of factors that go into successful stock picking. 

Timing, for one. If you buy a stock at the right time, you're more likely to make money off of it. But even then, there's no guarantee, unless you invest for the long-term. This is why time in the market beats timing. It's also important to have a good understanding of the companies you're investing in. 

Do your research and know their finances inside and out. This will give you a better chance of picking stocks that will perform well in the future. Another factor to consider is risk tolerance

Some people are more willing to take risks than others. This can affect your stock-picking strategy. If you're willing to take on more risk, you may be more likely to invest in smaller companies with higher growth potential. 

But if you're risk-averse, you may prefer to stick with larger, more established companies. Stock picking requires skill and knowledge, but there's also an element of luck involved. No one can predict the future, so there's always a chance that your investments will underperform. Luckily there are ways to deal with underperformance.

Does luck affect stock picking? 

Yes, this is because a lot of timing is involved in stock picking. You have to be lucky enough to buy a stock at the right time and then you have to be lucky enough for the stock to perform well. 

Unlucky situations can arise no matter how well you've researched a company or how good your timing is. Sometimes, things just don't go the way you planned. 

For example, let's say you buy a stock at $100 per share. The company then announces some bad news and the stock price plummets to $50 per share. 

This would be an unlucky situation, but it doesn't mean you're a bad stock picker. It could just be an isolated event that's out of your control. 

Another example that happens often is when the entire stock market collapses due to unforeseen events. These events can be anything from a natural disaster to major political events or economic lockdowns. 

If the stock market crashes, it doesn't matter how good your individual stock picks are. Your portfolio is going to take a hit. If you invest during a bull run, you may get lucky and see your portfolio grow. 

But if you invest during a bear market, you may get unlucky and see your portfolio shrink. Either scenario can happen for both the educated and uneducated. 

You may experience a decade or two where there is no economic growth or you can be alive and investing when the economy is booming. This is where a lot of people get confused. They think that if they just pick the right stocks, they will make money regardless of the economic conditions. 

But that's not how it works. The stock market is a reflection of the economy as a whole. When the economy is doing well, the stock market usually does well too, and vice versa. As a retail investor and not a political power, these factors can be out of your control and attributed to luck. 

Can stock picking really work? 

Many value investors are successful stock pickers. They buy stocks that are undervalued by the market and hold onto them for the long term. This can be a successful strategy, but it requires a lot of patience and discipline. 

There's no easy answer when it comes to stock picking. It takes time, effort, and research to be successful. And even then, there's no guarantee that you'll make money. So is it worth it? That's up to you to decide. 

If you're interested in trying your hand at stock picking, remember to approach it with caution. Don't invest more than you can afford to lose, and always do your homework before buying any stock. 

Is stock picking just luck or analytical?

Even with examples of stock pickers such as Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch, and George Soros, some people maintain that stock picking is just lucky. However, these investors have used specific strategies to find stocks they believe will succeed. 

Buffet looks for companies with a durable competitive advantage, Lynch searched for stocks in his own backyard, and Soros is known for his ability to "anticipate the big moves.” like reversals.

While there is no guaranteed formula for success, these investors have found methods that work for them. If you're interested in stock picking, it's worth taking the time to find a strategy that works for you. 

On the other hand, even Warren Buffet does not recommend picking stocks as an average investor. Instead, he believes in investing in low-cost index funds. These are funds that track a basket of stocks, such as the S&P 500. 

By investing in an index fund, you'll get exposure to a wide range of stocks without having to pick individual winners. 

A lucky bet or an analytic understanding of stock picking? 

Warren Buffett wagered $1 million that an S&P 500 stock index fund would outperform hedge funds. In 2008, many investors were turned off by boring investment strategies and believed the high price that hedge funds charged was worth it. 

As it turns out, Warren Buffet won. After 9 years, the S&P 500 appreciated by 85.4% compared to the hedge fund average of only 22%. This showed that in this scenario, even the highest-paid hedge fund analysts could not beat the market. 

Here are five interpretations from this financial experiment: 

  1. The hedge-fund managers were performing poorly throughout that duration 
  2. The S&P 500 performed exceptionally
  3. Hedge Fund managers aren't the best stock pickers 
  4. Successful stock pickers got lucky
  5. Successful stock pickers are rare and exceptional analysts 

So what's the verdict? Is stock picking luck or skill? 

It's probably a little bit of both. But if you're willing to put in the time and effort, you may be able to find some success. Just remember to approach it strategically, and always do your research before buying any stock. 


At the end of the day, stock picking is both an art and a science that requires a bit of luck. There's no surefire way to guarantee success, but if you put in the time and effort, you give yourself a much better chance of coming out on top.