Psssstt...Wanna make a bundle in the stock market? I've got a hot tip for you. To be certain, when it comes to buying stocks, there are no sure things, especially given current economic uncertainty. But for all you quality professionals out there, beating the market may be as easy as putting your money where your mouths are. And by telling your friends and neighbors about it too--and maybe even the big boss at work--you might help advance the cause of the quality movement in America.

Now I know you don't look to this column for investment advice. But I'm not touting any particular stock. I'm just saying that if you believe in what you do for a living, then it may make sense to invest a few of your hard-earned dollars in companies that follow sound quality practices, and to pass the idea on to others.

This comes to mind following the recent publication of results from the 2001 Baldrige Stock Study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the agency that manages the annual federally sponsored Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

For the past seven years, NIST has conducted an annual study comparing the performance of hypothetical investments made in the stock of publicly traded Baldrige Award recipients versus the same amounts invested in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index. And for the seventh straight year, the Baldrige winners have beaten the S&P 500 by a healthy margin.

This year's study tracked the common stock prices of Baldrige winners between 1990 and 1999, with hypothetical investments made in each of the winners on the first of the month following receipt of the awards. Identical amounts were "invested" in the S&P 500 at the same time.

The result: The Baldrige winners outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 4-to-1, after adjustments for stock splits. During the 10-year study period, an investment of $7,282 in the 24 publicly traded Baldrige recipients would have been worth $57,185 on Dec. 1, 2000. That's a return of more than 685%. An identical amount invested in the S&P 500, by comparison, would have grown by only about 163% to $19,160.

You and I already know that sound quality practices produce a bottom line payoff, which can translate to improved stock market performance. But it seems to me that the NIST study results ought to get more attention than they do each year. Maybe then, more top executives would see the light and boost commitments to quality. Maybe more investors would buy stock in companies noted for their quality practices. Heck, maybe we'd even see the emergence of new mutual funds that follow "quality based" investing strategies.

So if you're having trouble convincing the top brass at work of the need to commit fully to quality, show them this column. Or point them to the NIST Web page at, where they can read the details of the study for themselves.

Tell your friends about it too. If enough of us do it, and more folks invest a few bucks accordingly, it could provide a boost for all quality astute companies. Let's not keep this a secret.

Wes Iversen, Editor