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Bruce W. Kaser, CFA
By
May 27, 2019

Five Places to Find Information About your Stocks

When owning individual stocks, it’s important to know how the company behind the share price is doing. After all, you don’t own just a ticker symbol, you have ownership in a real company with human leadership, real employees and many aggressive competitors.


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Professional investors – those who oversee large mutual funds, hedge funds, pension and sovereign wealth funds and personal wealth assets, have remarkable access to top-quality, reliable information. They can talk to their in-house research teams, call their favorite Wall Street analysts (yes, they will pick up the phone for their top clients), reach out to the company CEO or CFO, and click on a research platform like CapitalIQ or FactSet.

However, most other investors, including many professionals whose firms aren’t among the largest, don’t have access to this type of information. Yet their needs are just as important. So, where does “everyone else” find what they’re looking for?

 

Listed below are our top five categories of sources for investment information:

1) The company’s website


Nearly every public company provides extensive and easy-to-find information about themselves. Two particularly useful pages to visit: the “company overview” and “investor relations”. The first page, the company overview, describes its operations from a general-reader perspective. Readers will want to focus on the company’s industry, the nature of its products and services, and who its customers are.

The investor relations pages focus on what is important to investors. Here, readers can find announcements on quarterly earnings, dividends, acquisitions, changes in leadership and other timely and relevant news.

Readers should also look for the “presentations” and “events” tabs. These include company presentations to professional investors that outline its strategy and financial condition, along with some color on its business trends and outlook. For many investors, professional and part-time alike, this can be the first place to look. Readers should remember that these presentations usually show the company in the most favorable light.

For quarterly earnings presentations, some companies provide transcripts of the conference call that accompanies the earnings release. [The Seeking Alpha website also provides transcripts for free]. For readers who want more information, as well as some objectivity and details of the company’s risks, the tab for “Financial Information” provides access to the company’s regulatory filings. The 10K and 10Q offer extensive information for the intrepid researcher.

Many companies provide automated email alerts that will send you updates tailored to your needs. These can keep you informed of major events with only minimal time and effort.

 

2) Independent, high-quality media sources

Financial journalists provide excellent perspective on many companies, particularly companies with timely issues or controversies. These writers usually understand their topics and are skilled in presenting stories in a readable style.

Also, financial journalists at top quality firms will have access to reputable Wall Street analysts and will share their views and opinions with readers. Many of their articles are available for free, although subscriptions can provide access to a much broader and deeper range of research.

The quality of media sources can vary widely - investors should focus on websites like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Barron’s, Fortune and similar publishers. We would put reputable service providers like Morningstar in this category, as well.

 

3) Brokerage firm websites


Most full-service brokers and some discount brokers offer in-house or third-party research on public companies. Third-party research can vary widely in terms of quality and relevance. Readers should focus on research that provides perspective over a time horizon that matches their own holding period. For an investor with a 2-3-year holding period, for example, a service focusing just on the next quarter’s outlook or on near-term stock price technicals may not be highly relevant.

 

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4) Industry trade groups


Nearly every industry has its own trade group, and much of their information is available for free. These websites may have extensive information on industry conditions, commentary from industry experts and other literature to help readers learn more about the environment their company operates in. Often these trade groups offer a balanced view on the opportunities and issues facing industry participants.

 

5) Google search


Google searches offer a good catch-all research strategy. Readers should be aware of the vast range of quality, or lack thereof, in search-based sources. All articles should be read with a skeptical approach. While some sites have valuable content, many other have entertaining or credible-sounding content that is highly biased, unreliable and irrelevant to the investor.

Conclusion:

Staying on top of your holdings doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. While professionals at the largest investment firms must watch their daily performance, most everyone else, particular value investors, have the luxury of a longer holding period (often years) that requires perhaps quarterly monitoring.

The key is to find the right mix of tools and resources that fits your schedule, interests and time horizon. These five commonly-used research sources can provide you with a great starting point.

 

Kind regards,

Bruce Kaser

Head of Equity Research, The Turnaround Letter

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Staying on top of your holdings doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. While professionals at the largest investment firms must watch their daily performance, most everyone else, particular value investors, have the luxury of a longer holding period (often years) that requires perhaps quarterly monitoring.