Many investors use fundamental analysis alone or in combination with other tools to evaluate stocks for investment purposes. The goal is to determine the current worth and, more importantly, how the market values the stock.
This article focuses on the key tools of fundamental analysis and what they tell you. Even if you dont plan to do in-depth fundamental analysis yourself, it will help you follow stocks more closely if you understand the key ratios and terms.
EarningsIts all about earnings. When you come to the bottom line, thats what investors want to know. How much money is the company making and how much is it going to make in the future.
Earnings are profits. It may be complicated to calculate, but thats what buying a company is about. Increasing earnings generally leads to a higher stock and, in some cases, a regular dividend.
When earnings fall short, the market may hammer the stock. Every quarter, companies report earnings. Analysts follow major companies closely and if they fall short of projected earnings, sound the alarm. For more information on earnings, see my article: Its the Earnings.
While earnings are important, by themselves they dont tell you anything about how the market values the stock. To begin building a picture of how the stock is valued you need to use some fundamental analysis tools. These ratios are easy to calculate, but you can find most of them already done on sites like cnn.money.com or MSN MoneyCentral.com.
Fundamental Analysis ToolsThese are the most popular tools of fundamental analysis. They focus on earnings, growth, and value in the market. For convenience, I have broken them into separate articles. Each article discusses related ratios. There are links in each article to the other articles and back to this article.
The articles are:
- Earnings per Share EPS
- Price to Earnings Ratio P/E
- Projected Earning Growth PEG
- Price to Sales P/S
- Price to Book P/B
- Dividend Payout Ratio
- Dividend Yield
- Book Value
- Return on Equity
No single number from this list is a magic bullet that will give you a buy or sell recommendation by itself, however as you begin developing a picture of what you want in a stock, these numbers will become benchmarks to measure the worth of potential investments.