Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reading Analyst Reports

There are 3 kinds of people. Those that like the stock analyst, those whose hate them and those who do not know what’s going on in a report. Here’s the deal, a stock analyst works for a securities firm (your brokerage) and almost all of them are linked to a bank. The more independent lot are like NRA Capital and CLSA.

I am not the first one to say this, but local analysts seldom give a "Sell" call on any company. Most of the sell calls I have seen come from the American firms such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. "Sell" calls are issued sparingly because, I guess, that if an analyst "offends" a company with his report, his bank might not be included in any financing deals. These deals make more money than any research report issued.

Nonetheless, I have posted a link to research reports at the Society of Remisiers website. The Rating of the company is usually irrelevant to your stock buying decision. Usually when a company has a "Sell" call in place, it usually means it is a gone case. I have seen one such company and that is COSCO Corp.

Target prices are also problematic because it is close to impossible to predict earnings beyond one year. No amount of financial modelling can be so accurate to project earnings within 5% standard deviation.

What you should look out for in reports is the background to the industry. Going through the reports saves you a lot of time doing checks on the industry your stock is in. Some of the companies are already in the market very long, and reading their old prospectus might not yield any utility.

You should also read any SWOT analysis or qualitative analysis that is given. Should you be sharp enough, you will be able to pick up important trends within the industry or any potential risks to investing in the company. Usually risks relating to the company are toned down. You should keep in mind if the general tone of the report seems "bullish" or paints a "blue skies" scenario. Always think carefully and reflect. Ultimately, who pays the securities analyst to do what?

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