Q. What are the courses that make a person good at stock analysis?
A. College won't teach you how to pick stocks. Here are the steps that I've taken.
- I read The Intelligent Investor (the value investing bible).
- I spent a lot of time reading pitches on ValueInvestorsclub.com.
- I learned how to do valuation and basic financial modeling by reading books by Damodaron and McKinsey.
- I began writing articles for Seeking Alpha once I started becoming a little bit comfortable with financial analysis.
- I felt like I wasn't improving, so I decided to get a summer internship with a hedge fund.
- Over last summer I was lucky to find a hedge fund that took me in as a summer analyst. I built more complicated models, talked with management teams through conference calls, and ultimately improved my overall investment analyst skills.
- I've realized that investment analysis is much MUCH more than just plugging a few different scenarios into an excel model. I've come to respect the economics of each company I dig into much more so than when I first started my journey, and I've also come to the conclusion that contacting management, shareholders, and industry experts is just as important. One of my best performing investments this year is an unknown micro cap with hard to find information. I had to contact the largest shareholder to find out exactly what was going on (how he originally became involved with the company, the nature of the product, competitive landscape, etc.).
I guess some things to take note are:
- what's the company's free cash flow yield?
- what are the gross, EBIT, EBITDA, FCF margins, etc.
- what are the working capital trends?
- is debt supported by EBITDA? Is the company breaking any covenants? What is the company's short term liquidity? What securities is it holding?
- whose on the management team? What's the board of director structure? What's the BOD compensation? Is management shareholder friendly (do they own significant equity outside of stock compensation? Do they have a history of share buybacks, special dividends, etc.?).
- Any significant shareholders?
- are margins similar to competitors?
- who are the customers? Are they fickle (clothing retail), or are they sustainable?
You should be aware of all of the above, and more before becoming comfortable about investing in the company.