Stock Researching Tips for 2020

By: Skylar Hammond

Researching stocks has always been an essential part of investing and trading. However, in uncertain and fickle economic times, such as these, it’s extremely important.  2020 has been a rocky year for the stock market, leaving many investors and analysts scratching their heads and reevaluating their investment strategies. 

Here’s the thing. While it seems like everything has radically changed, your approach to stock research should remain the same. Vigilance is key. The main difference now is that there are more external and uncontrollable factors at play (looking at you COVID).

Researching stocks in 2020 is about being even more thorough than you were before and taking every minuscule external detail into account before buying, selling, or trading anything. 

Let’s break down the best practices for stock researching in 2020, so that you can confidentially continue to expand your investment portfolio. 

The Mainstay Steps for Stock Evaluation
Take yourself out of 2020 for a minute and get back to the basics of researching stocks. Clear away any clutter and paranoia that you have surrounding these uncertain financial times. Choosing stocks can be as straightforward as any other time. It all boils down to picking a stock you like and evaluating it.  
Here are the four basic steps for researching any stock: 

  • Step One: Gather the Quantitative Research 

You’ve picked the company and stock that you’re interested in, so now you need to gather their important financial information and data. These companies are required to file several documents with the SEC, and if you have the time, you’ll want to get and digest a couple of them. 

Get their Form 10-K and their Form 10-Q. (These forms are lengthy, and sometimes a little hard to digest, so you can often get simplified versions of this data from your brokerage firm’s website.) 

  • Step Two: Zero-In on The Important Data 

What numbers are you looking for in these financial reports? Here are the essential ones to take note of: 

    • Revenue – how much the company is bringing in from operations 
    • Net Income – how much they’re profiting 
    • EPS (earning per share) – profitability on a per-share basis
    • Price-earnings ratio – how much investors will pay to get $1 of the company’s earnings
    • ROE (return on equity) – the amount of profit generated with each shareholder dollar 
    • ROA (return on assets) – total profit percentage generated via company assets.

All these numbers are essential to painting the overall numerical and quantitative picture of any potential stock.

  • Step Three: Peel Back the Layers

Once you have the numbers, it’s time to look at the less technical components of the company. This step is all about looking at the reasons why this company is worthy of your investment. Ask yourself questions like: 

    • Do they have a clear competitive advantage? 
    • How is their leadership and company values? 
    • Are they poised for any negative media attention? 
    • How do they make their money? (This one can be interesting and not always as straightforward as it seems. For example, many fast food companies don’t make their primary income from selling food, but rather franchising.) 
    • What are the worst-case scenarios? (Ask this not from a stock market and data standpoint, but purely the business. Are they primed for a buyout? Is their CEO a raging alcoholic? Did they recently get outed for donating to unscrupulous causes? Etc.) 

The most vital part of this step is identifying whether or not they’re a winning company. Identify why you feel compelled to invest in them. Take into account psychological, human, and societal factors here. This isn’t about the numbers – it’s about identifying the intangible qualities that separate winning stocks from losing ones.

  • Step Four: Contextualize the Research

Once you’ve gathered all your research, it’s time to contextualize it. Now, look at the company’s historical data and performance. Compare their numbers and data to others in their sector. How do they compare? Are they above sector-averages financially? How do they historically treat their shareholders? 

Then, put all that research inside the context of 2020, COVID-19, global and political predictions, and see how it shakes up.

Additional Stock Research Tips for 2020 
After you’ve finished the four steps, you should be able to assess the stability and potential for any stock. While there are some unknowns, the principles behind stock research remain the same. 
While there’s no surefire security in times of economic uncertainty, there are some industries that most analysts agree are safer than others. These include: 

    • Healthcare
    • Food Industry (especially commodity markets, like soy and grains) 
    • FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) 
    • Legal Industries 
    • Utilities (energy and water) 
    • Technology

Within these industries, look for stocks that have balanced sheets, decent cash flow, and a history of healthy payouts to shareholders. For extra safety, consider large-cap stocks and look for dividend aristocrats, who are known to increase dividend payments every year for their stockholders.

Ultimately, 2020 is no different than any other year in investing. If you do your due diligence, listen to the analysts, and don’t take any significant risks, you have as much risk and reward as any other year. 

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Skylar Hammond is a writer for True Trader who specializes in topics such as stock trading, personal finance, and forex. He focuses on helping beginners and experts alike learn more about the market and improve their trading skills.

Lightspeed Financial Services Group LLC is not affiliated with these third-party market commentators/educators or service providers. Data, information, and material (“content”) are provided for informational and educational purposes only. This content neither is, nor should be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or contracts. Any investment decisions made by the user through the use of such content is solely based on the users independent analysis taking into consideration your financial circumstances, investment objectives, and risk tolerance. Lightspeed Financial Services Group LLC does not endorse, offer nor recommend any of the services or commentary provided by any of the market commentators/educators or service providers and any information used to execute any trading strategies are solely based on the independent analysis of the user.

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