How To Invest In Shares
May 27, 2010
9. How To Get Company Information
Once you have found some companies that 'potentially' fit your investment criteria you need to find out more detailed and specific information about them.
Type a company’s ticker into the search box at the top of each Fool page and you’ll find recent articles, the latest share price and more information. If you don’t know a company’s ticker, simply type in its name and the ticker you need should be displayed on the next page (a ticker usually consists of three letters that uniquely identify each company e.g. VOD for Vodafone).
Your next step should be to have a look at the company's website. Almost all listed companies now have an Internet presence, and the information on some is much better than on others. As a rule, the larger the company, the more investor-specific information is contained on the site.
How do you find a company's website? Not surprisingly, most companies try to have a website with a name similar to their own, for example Vodafone; is www.vodafone.com or www.vodafone.co.uk.
Or do a search on Google. Type in the company's name with the words "investor" and" information" and then follow the links.
Without doubt, the most useful piece of information a company can supply prospective investors is their annual report. Published once a year by every listed company, the annual report contains details of the company's latest operational and financial performance. Examining the annual report is an essential part to assessing the fundamentals of any company. You can also order free copies of many companies' annual reports via the link on our Quotes & Date page or direct via the order page.
Most companies provide a downloadable version of their latest annual report on their website. Some companies provide a historical record of reports going back a few years -- this enables you to judge the company's record in more detail. If there is only one report on the website, ring the company up and ask for older ones
Facts and figures
If you want a quick overview of a company's figures and other information, just get a quote for that company and click on the 'Fundamentals' tab on the quote page.
Useful sites for news-hungry investors include NewsNow, the BBC, Citywire and Sharecast. Citywire is particularly good if you're looking at smaller companies.
UK-Wire is also well worth looking at. It publishes the original statements that listed companies have released to the stock exchange. Be aware that PR agencies will have had a hand in many of these releases, but it's still interesting to read what the company itself has said, rather that what some journalist says the company has said (even if it's a Fool writer!).
But of course, if you're looking for opinions, then look no further than the Motley Fool. The Fool's Discussion Boards are widely recognised as being the best in the business.
Numerous well-informed investors post their thoughts and other interesting links to help others evaluate a company's investment merits. The Foolish writers regularly venture their opinions on popular companies, too.
Taking the plunge
When, after all your research, you've found a company that you definitely want to invest in, you'll want to get the best deal for buying the shares.
The Motley Fool ShareDealing Service lets you buy (or sell) in real time for a flat rate of just £10 (for UK shares) — there's no fee to register, no annual charge and no inactivity charges, so why not open an account today.
That's all folks...
That's the end of our introductory series on how to invest in shares. We hope you've enjoyed reading it, and maybe learned something useful.
Happy — and profitable — investing!