How to Analyze Stocks (For Beginners)
If you’re ready to
The four steps to analyzing a stock are:
- Determine how the company makes its money
- Figure out the company’s finances
- Analyze the future growth of the company
- Determine whether or not the current price is a good one
Actually, before you start analyzing a stock, you have to do is figure out which stock you want to research! Let’s say that I am interested in the (imaginary) company Bill’s Brews (BBREWS) after trying their signature Bill’s Acorn Ale. I go to a finance website, such as Yahoo! Finance or CNN Money, and type their ticker symbol (in this case, BBREWS) into their stock price widget, and start to do research.
The first thing I want to find out is what all the company is all about. Many companies are diversified and do more than you may know. For example, people know that General Electric makes light bulbs, but they may not know that they also make airplane engines and have a powerful finance arm. In this case, BBREWS makes not only beer, but also a wide range of soda pop. In fact, 60% of revenue comes from soda pop, but only 10% of earnings come from soda pop. In other words, 60% of total sales money comes from sales of soda pop, but only 10% of profits. BBREWS makes much more money for every beer it sells than for every bottle of soda. This may make you more likely to
Secondly, now that you have a relatively qualitative idea of how the company makes money, you need to get a more quantitative idea. You should find out the price/earnings ratio (the ratio of the
Third, you should find out what analysts are thinking about this stock and read their opinions. You should also find out what recent growth rates in profits and sales have been. Check if company insiders or institutional investors, who may have a better idea of how the stock will perform, are buying shares of the stock. If a CEO thinks that the stock of his company is undervalued, he will be more likely to buy it, and if he thinks that it is overvalued, to sell it. Since the CEO probably knows more about the stock than most people, this is a good indicator that it may be undervalued. Analysts also spend long periods of time studying individual firms and finding out if they are overvalued or undervalued. You should also read news reports about the company to see if there are any catalysts for higher than anticipated growth. For example, let’s say that Bill’s Brews just won an award for “Best American Ale” this year. This may lead sales of Bill’s Brews to increase in the coming year.
Finally, now that you have determined all of this, you need to synthesize all of the data to decide whether or not the stock is a good buy. This is definitely more than an art than a science, but you should determine that the numbers you have found make a good investment. One rule of thumb is that the PEG ratio (price/earnings to growth) should be less than 1. In other words, the P/E ratio (found in step 2) should be the same or less than the annual percentage earnings growth rate. For instance, if the P/E ratio is 10 (the
Now you are ready to analyze