How useful are company visits in learning about a company's future projects?
Company visits are an essential part on getting in person, on location qualitative insights vs. quantitative analysis from afar. Company visits in person allow for the personal connection and evaluation on how conservative or not, the firm is. This along with other nuances impossible to asses by phone or through research. With my US/EU/ASIA long multicultural background I can also attempt to assess the likelihood of legitimacy, integrity and more around the company and its management. But it would be a mistake to conclude that "the more visits the better", as one only needs a few good ideas a year to make a big investor performance difference...too many visits can dilute or even confuse all this. Also, sometimes a company which is not so good but getting better can be a good choice discovered through a visit, vs. a great company (at high valuation) which may be loosing part of its allure can be a less attractive investor choice. Lately as an example Apple Computer seems to be at this stage, loosing near 30% of its value over the past year. (May '15 to May '16).
Sometimes a visit can result in the wrong impression or outright being mislead...or getting too close. A risk I have found over the years to be a delicate balance requiring long experience. I mention at the outset to any visit always conducted in English that I operate on an international standard and will point out at my website any misleading statement...as I do and have in the past.