How I Stay on Top of My Stocks

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I have to stay current on what is happening with the companies in my stock portfolio. If I do not, I could get badly hurt. Or I could miss a great opportunity. So I have developed a simple 3-step procedure to stay on top of my stocks. Here is what I do.

I monitor news about my portfolio companies daily, dividend announcements on their due dates, and earnings reports quarterly.  Any of these could foretell a major stock price shift in the foreseeable future. Or right away.  And I must not miss those signals to buy or sell.

Daily news. Monday through Friday, I get on the worldwide web at 8am (EDT) and go to the Yahoo Finance website. It is Yahoo for me because this site aggregates in one place all the news and major opinion pieces for each publicly traded company. It is 8am because those companies almost always release their news — particularly their bad news — after the 4pm stock market close and before the 8:30 am bond market opening. And I know I have to be nimble. I have to decide what — if anything — to do before the stock market opens at 9:30 am.

Dividend announcements. I only invest in dividend-paying companies. The continued payout of that dividend is crucial to me. So I keep a list of dividend announcement due dates for my portfolio companies, which I update by projecting forward 3 months from the most recent past announcement. A missed dividend announcement due date is a huge red flag. And I must spot that red flag and act on it because it may very well mean that the dividend is going to be either cut or eliminated.

Quarterly earning reports. I select my portfolio stocks based on specific financial data but that data is constantly changing. The quarterly earnings report is my chance to update that data. For the company’s earnings report press release, I again rely on the Yahoo Finance website. For transcripts of earnings report conference calls, I go to Seeking Alpha by clicking on a link at Yahoo Finance. Once I have reviewed the company’s report and conference call, I either give the company a continued thumbs-up or I immediately make plans to eliminate it from my portfolio. Otherwise, I am asking for trouble.

It takes me an average of one to one-and-a-half hours a day to carry out this monitoring. I consider that time part of my investment in my portfolio because up-to-date information is essential to its management. And so I make sure that I have that information.

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