My average thumbs up/thumbs down decision (that doesn’t mean buy today at all, I may like a company well enough to buy but need to wait for a better price, or place a rather low limit order if it’s withing 10-20% of my target buy price) now takes oh, I suppose 45 minutes to an hour for a stock that passes through each of my rather loose grading screens. After the initial run-through I am much more likely to read, read, read about an interesting company than go through their financials with a fine-tooth comb.same here - it isn't hard to identify if a BS is pretty, if margins are going up or down, and if a business generates free cash flow. If interesting, I will do a spreadsheet to get a handle on the financials in more depth but it doesn't take long. What is more valuable is what you say - reading - esp. the company presentations and conference calls. I mean, if you follow restaurants, what are you really going to learn after reviewing the basics? It is too easy to get snowed under with fuzzballs that aren't predictive. it is better to study growth rates, where margins are going, capital allocation - etc. - or story stuff than to get lost in the details. All this said, you have to know how to at least go thru the financials. I think, like you said, you need to know enough to run from trouble or complexity when you see it.
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