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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Putter Around On Your Broker Site

Choosing a discount broker is not difficult today. There are several good ones out there and there are unbiased evaluations of them that prospective customers can exploit. Here is one at

NerdWallet .

Sometimes I counsel people who are looking for a broker and I suggest Schwab but point out that there are others that are also good such as Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard etc.

I also suggest that if they are really on the fence they can open an account with the minimum and then do a couple of transactions to see if it is a good fit.

But beyond this it is also useful for just about every investor to putter around on their brokerage account. So many times I hear "I didn't know they had this". Many times investors are paying for information in other places that is available for free on their brokerage site.

With this in mind I thought it would be useful to go over some of the things I look at on Schwab and elsewhere when I consider a stock. To be clear I am basically an index fund guy but I do invest in individual stocks from time-to-time and I also have a dividend portfolio where I research individual companies.

So, suppose I'm interested in Home Depot (HD). I go to the Schwab page and put HD in the quote box:

Under "Symbol" click on "HD", This opens a lot of information.

I started formally in the investment business in 1980. The challenge then was to get information. I started with a dial up phone each morning calling several brokers (Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch etc.) to get T-bill rates. T-bill rates for crying out loud!

Today the challenge for the investor is to figure out what information they want to look at. Behavioral finance teaches us that there can actually be too much information causing investors to throw their hands up and just walk away. Winnowing it down is a challenge.

So as I look at this page I look at eps earnings date first because i don't want to get surprised by a volatile movement because of the announcement:

Next I scroll down and look at the right hand side where you find opinions of various researchers and Schwab's rating:

This of course is just a smattering of the data on the page. Again, it is a challenge to pick and choose what to look at. For example, I'm not a huge fan of ratings but if Schwab's rating is "D" or "F" I'll do a bit more digging to find out why.

I'll admit also that I am a fan of Ned Davis so I'll typically take a look at their report ,for which you see there is a link.

I next go to Yahoo Finance put HD in the quote box and scroll down the right hand side:

This gives a nice view of the all important earnings versus earnings estimates going back a year. In other words, does the company tend to perform better than expected.

All of this takes longer to explain than to do and is easily carried out to compare two stocks. For example, you may want to compare HD with LOW.

So the bottom line is to putter around on your site to see what is available.

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Schwab and I own HD.

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