Buying the right stock is so much easier said than done. Anyone can see a stock that’s performed well in the past, but anticipating the performance of a stock in the future is much more difficult. If you want to succeed by investing in individual stocks, you have to be prepared to do a lot of work to analyze a company and manage the investment.
“When you start looking at statistics you’ve got to remember that the professionals are looking at each and every one of those companies with much more rigor than you can probably do as an individual, so it’s a very difficult game for the individual to win over time,” says Dan Keady, CFP, chief financial planning strategist at TIAA.
If you’re analyzing a company, you’ll want to look at a company’s fundamentals – earnings per share (EPS) or a price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio), for example. But you’ll have to do so much more: analyze the company’s management team, evaluate its competitive advantages, study its financials, including its balance sheet and income statement. Even these items are just the start.
Keady says going out and buying stock in your favorite product or company isn’t the right way to go about investing. Also, don’t put too much faith in past performance because it’s no guarantee of the future.
You’ll have to study the company and anticipate what’s coming next, a tough job in good times.