Money: Investing By The Numbers

You know how to pick a good stock, right? Read up on a company's products, listen to what the CEO has to say, figure out where the industry is headed. Well, that's rubbish and pure distraction, according to quants, a breed of computer-loving money managers, many of them ex-mathematicians and physicists, who are gaining a following among ordinary investors.

Quants (short for quantitative analysts) combine hundreds of data points--cash flow, earnings growth, inventory turnover, trades by company executives--for thousands of stocks into elaborate computer programs that then say to buy certain stocks and sell others. Which the quants do, unflinchingly. "The emotional element...

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