Sunday, March 4, 2018

How To Make A Winning Long-Term Stock Pick ..


Courtesy : Investopedia 


Many investors are confused when it comes to the stock market — they have trouble figuring out which stocks are good long-term buys and which ones aren't. To invest for the long term, not only do you have to look at certain indicators, you also have to remain focused on your long-term goals, be disciplined and understand your overall investment objectives.
Focus on the Fundamentals
There are many fundamental factors that analysts inspect to decide which stocks are good long-term buys and which are not. These factors tell you whether the company is financially healthy and whether the stock has been brought down to levels below its actual value, thus making it a good buy.
The following are several strategies that you can use to determine a stock's value.
Dividend Consistency
The consistency of a company's ability to pay and raise its dividend shows that it has predictability in its earnings. It also shows that it's financially stable enough to pay that dividend (from current or retained earnings). You'll find many different opinions on how many years you should go back to look for this consistency — some say five years, others say as many as 20 — but anywhere in this range will give you an overall idea of the dividend consistency.
Examine the P/E Ratio
The price-earnings ratio (P/E) ratio is used to determine whether a stock is over or undervalued. It's calculated by dividing the current price of the stock by the company's earnings per share. The higher the P/E ratio, the more willing some investors are to pay for those earnings. However, a higher P/E ratio is also seen as a sign that the stock is overpriced and could be due for a pullback — at the very least. A lower P/E ratio could indicate that the stock is an attractive value and that the markets have pushed shares below their actual value.
A practical way to determine whether a company is cheap relative to its industry or the markets is to compare its P/E ratio with the overall industry or market. For example, if the company has a P/E ratio of nine while the industry has a P/E ratio of 14, this would indicate that the stock has an attractive valuation compared with the overall industry. But on the other hand one should also check whether there is any specific reason for such high P/E ratio like possibility of robust business growth in future..etc
Watch for Fluctuating Earnings

The economy moves in cycles. Sometimes the economy is strong and earnings rise. Other times, the economy is slowing and earnings fall. One way to determine whether a stock is a good long-term buy is to evaluate its past earnings and future earnings projections. If the company has a consistent history of rising earnings over a period of many years, it could be a good long-term buy.
Also, look at what the company's earnings projections are going forward. If they're projected to remain strong, this could be a sign that the company may be a good long-term buy. Alternatively, if the company is cutting future earnings guidance, this could be a sign of earnings weakness and you might want to stay away.
Avoid Valuation Traps

How do you know if a stock is a good long-term buy and not a valuation trap (the stock looks cheap but can head a lot lower)? To answer this question, you need to apply some common-sense principles, such as looking at the company's debt ratio and current ratio.
Debt can work in two ways:
  • During times of economic uncertainty or rising interest rates, companies with high levels of debt can experience financial problems.
  • In good economic times, debt can increase a company's profitability by financing growth at a lower cost.
The debt ratio measures the amount of assets that have been financed with debt. Generally, the higher the debt, the greater the possibility that the company could be a valuation trap.
There is another tool you can use to determine the company's ability to meet these debt obligations — the current ratio. To calculate this number, you divide the company's current assets by its current liabilities. The higher the number, the more liquid the company is. For example, let's say a company has a current ratio of four. This means that the company is liquid enough to pay four times its liabilities.
By using these two ratios — the debt ratio and the current ratio — you can get a good idea as to whether the stock is a good value at its current price.
Analyze Economic Indicators

There are two ways that you can use economic indicators to understand what's happening with the markets.
Understanding Economic Conditions

The major stock market averages are considered to be forward-looking economic indicators. For example, consistent weakness in the Dow Jones Industrial Average could signify that the economy has started to top out and that earnings are starting to fall. The same thing applies if the major market averages start to rise consistently but the economic numbers are showing that the economy is still weak. As a general rule, stock prices tend to lead the actual economy in the range of six to 12 months.
Evaluate the Economic "Big Picture"

A good way to gauge how long-term buys relates to the economy is to use the news headlines as an economic indicator. Basically, you're using contrarian indicators from the news media to understand whether the markets are becoming overbought or oversold.
The Bottom Line
Investing for the long term requires patience and discipline. You may spot good long-term investments when the company or the markets haven't been performing so well. By using fundamental tools and economic indicators, you can find those hidden diamonds in the rough and avoid the potential valuation traps.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Managing The Risks In Value Investing ....

Courtesy : Investopedia

Value investing, properly executed, is a low-to-medium-risk strategy. But it still comes with the possibility of losing money. This section describes the key risks to be aware of and offers guidance on how to mitigate them.

Basing Your Calculations on the Wrong Numbers

Since value investing decisions are partly based on an analysis of financial statements, it is imperative that you perform these calculations correctly. Using the wrong numbers, performing the wrong calculation or making a mathematical typo can result in basing an investment decision on faulty information. You might then make a poor investment or miss out on a great one. If you aren’t yet confident in your ability to read and analyze financial statements and reports, keep studying these subjects and don’t place any trades until you’re truly ready.


Overlooking Extraordinary Gains or Losses

Some years, companies experience unusually large losses or gains from events such as natural disasters, corporate restructuring or unusual lawsuits and will report these on the income statement under a label such as “extraordinary item — gain” or “extraordinary item — loss.” When making your calculations, it is important to remove these financial anomalies from the equation to get a better idea of how the company might perform in an ordinary year. However, think critically about these items, and use your judgment. If a company has a pattern of reporting the same extraordinary item year after year, it might not be too extraordinary. Also, if there are unexpected losses year after year, this can be a sign that the company is having financial problems. Extraordinary items are supposed to be unusual and nonrecurring. Also beware a pattern of write-offs.

Ignoring the Flaws in Ratio Analysis

The problem with financial ratios is that they can be calculated in different ways. Here are a few factors that can affect the meaning of these ratios:
  • They can be calculated with before-tax or after-tax numbers.
  • Some ratios provide only rough estimates.
  • A company’s reported earnings per share (EPS) can vary significantly depending on how “earnings” is defined.
  • Companies differ in their accounting methodologies, making it difficult to accurately compare different companies on the same ratios.
  •  
  • Overpaying

One of the biggest risks in value investing lies in overpaying for a stock. When you underpay for a stock, you reduce the amount of money you could lose if the stock performs poorly. The closer you pay to the stock’s 
fair market value — or even worse, if you overpay — the bigger your risk of not earning money or even losing capital. Recall that one of the fundamental principles of value investing is to build a margin of safety into all your investments. This means purchasing stocks at a price of around two-thirds or less of their intrinsic value. Value investors want to risk as little capital as possible in potentially overvalued assets, so they try not to overpay for investments.

Not Diversifying

Conventional investment wisdom says that investing in individual stocks can be a high-risk strategy. Instead, we are taught to invest in multiple stocks or stock indexes so that we have exposure to a wide variety of companies and economic sectors. However, some value investors believe that you can have a diversified portfolio even if you only own a small number of stocks, as long as you choose stocks that represent different industries and different sectors of the economy. Value investor and investment manager Christopher H. Browne recommends owning a minimum of 10 stocks in his “Little Book of Value Investing.” Famous value investor Benjamin Graham suggested that 10 to 30 companies is enough to adequately diversify.

They recommend investing in  a few companies and watching them closely. Of course, this advice assumes that you are great at choosing winners, which may not be the case, particularly if you are a value-investing novice.

Listening to Your Emotions

It is difficult to ignore your emotions when making investment decisions. Even if you can take a detached, critical standpoint when evaluating numbers, fear and excitement may creep in when it comes time to actually use part of your hard-earned savings to purchase a stock. More importantly, once you have purchased the stock, you may be tempted to sell it if the price falls. You must remember that to be a value investor means to avoid the herd-mentality investment behaviours of buying when a stock’s price is rising and selling when it is falling. Such behaviour will obliterate your returns

Value investing is a long-term strategy. Warren Buffett, for example, buys stocks with the intention of holding them almost indefinitely. He once said, “I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.” You will probably want to sell your stocks when it comes time to make a major purchase or retire, but by holding a variety of stocks and maintaining a long-term outlook, you can sell your stocks only when their price exceeds their fair market value.
Basing Your Investment Decisions on Fraudulent Accounting Statements
After the accounting scandals associated with Enron, WorldCom, Tesco, Toshiba and other companies, it would be easy to let our fears of false accounting statements prevent us from investing in stocks. Selecting individual stocks requires trusting the numbers that companies report about themselves on their balance sheets and income statements. Sure, regulations have been tightened and statements are audited by independent accounting firms, but regulations have failed in the past and some unethical accountants have become their clients’ bedfellows.

Not Comparing Apples to Apples

Comparing a company’s stock to that of its competitors is one way value investors analyze their potential investments. However, companies differ in their accounting policies in ways that are perfectly legal. When you’re comparing one company’s P/E ratio to another’s, you have to make sure that EPS has been calculated the same way for both companies. Also, you might not be able to compare companies from different industries. If companies use different accounting principles, you will need to adjust the numbers to compare apples to apples; otherwise, you can’t accurately compare two companies on this metric.

Selling at the Wrong Time

Even if you do everything right in researching and purchasing your stocks, your entire strategy can fall apart if you sell at the wrong time. The wrong time to sell is when the market is suffering and stock prices are falling simply because investors are panicking, not because they are assessing the quality of the underlying companies they have invested in. Another bad time to sell is when a stock’s price drops just because its earnings have fallen short of analysts’ expectations.
The ideal time to sell your stock is when shares are overpriced relative to the company’s intrinsic value. However, sometimes a significant change in the company or the industry that lowers the company’s intrinsic value might also warrant a sale if you see losses on the horizon. It can be tricky not to confuse these times with general investor panic. Also, if part of your investment strategy involves passing wealth to your heirs, the right time to sell may be never (at least for a portion of your portfolio).

Friday, January 26, 2018

7 Stock Buying Mistakes And How To Avoid Them ....

Courtesy : Investopedia

Making mistakes is part of the learning process. However, it's all too often that plain old common sense separates a successful investor from a poor one. At the same time, nearly all investors, new or experienced, have fallen astray from common sense and made a mistake or two. Being perfect may be impossible, but knowing some of common investing errors can help deter you from going down the well-traveled, yet rocky, path of losses. Here are some of the most common stock buying mistakes.

1. Using Too Much Margin


Margin is the use of borrowed money to purchase securities. Margin can help you make more money; however, it can also exaggerate your loses - a definite downside.
The absolute worst thing you can do as a new investor is become carried away with what seems like free money - if you use margin and your investment doesn't go your way, you end up with a large debt obligation for nothing. Ask yourself if you would buy stocks with your credit card. Of course you wouldn't. Using margin excessively is essentially the same thing (albeit likely at a lower interest rate).Additionally, using margin requires you to monitor your positions much more closely because of the exaggerated gains and losses that accompany small movements in price. If you don't have the time or knowledge to keep a close eye on and make decisions about your positions and the positions drop, your brokerage firm will sell your stock to recover any losses you have accrued.


As a new investor, use margin sparingly, if at all. Use it only if you understand all its aspects and dangers. It can force you to sell all your positions at the bottom, the point at which you should be in the market for the big turnaround.

2. Buying On Unfounded Tips


We think everyone makes this mistake at one point or another in their investing career. You may hear your relatives or friends talking about a stock that they heard will get bought out, have killer earnings or soon release a groundbreaking new product. Even if these things are true, they do not necessarily mean that the stock truly is "the next big thing" and that you should run to the nearest phone to call your broker.
Other unfounded tips come from investment professionals on TV who often tout a specific stock as though it's a must-buy, but really is nothing more than the flavor of the day. These stock tips often don't pan out and go straight down after you buy them. Remember, buying on media tips is often founded on nothing more than a speculative gamble.


Now this isn't to say that you should balk at every stock tip. If one really grabs your attention, the first thing to do is consider the source. The next thing is to do your own homework. Make sure you "research, research and research" so that you know what you are buying and why. Buying a tech stock with some proprietary technology should be based on whether it's the right investment for you, not solely on what some mutual fund manager said on TV.
Next time you're tempted to buy a hot tip, don't do so until you've got all the facts and are comfortable with the company. Ideally, obtain a second opinion from other investors or unbiased financial advisor


3. Day Trading

If you insist on becoming an active trader, think twice before day trading. Day trading is a dangerous game and should be attempted only by the most seasoned investors. In addition to investment savvy, a successful day trader needs access to special equipment that is rarely available to the average trader. Did you know that the average day-trading workstation (with software) can cost in the range of $50,000? You'll also need a similar amount of trading money to maintain an efficient day trading strategy.
The need for speed is the main reason you can't start day trading with simply the extra $5,000 in your bank account: online brokers do not have systems fast enough to service the true day trader, so quite literally the difference of pennies per share can make the difference between a profitable and losing trade. In fact, day trading is deemed such a difficult endeavor that most brokerages who offer day trading accounts require investors to take formal trading courses.
Unless you have the expertise, equipment and access to speedy order execution, think twice before day trading. If you aren't particularly adept at dealing with risk and stress, there are much better options for an investor looking to build wealth.

4. Buying Stocks that Appear Cheap

This is a very common mistake, and those who commit it do so by comparing the current share price with the 52-week high of the stock. Many people using this gauge assume that a fallen share price represents a good buy. But the fact that a company's share price happened to be 30% higher last year will not help it earn more money this year. That's why it pays to analyze why a stock has fallen.
Deteriorating fundamentals, a CEO resignation and increased competition are all possible reasons for the lower stock price - but they are also provide good reasons to suspect that the stock might not increase anytime soon. A company may be worth less now for fundamental reasons. It is important always to have a critical eye since a low share price might be a false buy signal.

Avoid buying stocks that simply look like a bargain. In many instances, there is a strong fundamental reason for a price decline. Do your homework and analyze a stock's outlook before you invest in it. You want to invest in companies which will experience sustained growth in the future.

5. Underestimating Your Abilities

Some investors tend to believe they can never excel at investing because stock market success is reserved for sophisticated investors. This perception has no truth at all. While any commission-based mutual fund salesmen will probably tell you otherwise, most professional money managers don't make the grade either - the vast majority underperform the broad market. With a little time devoted to learning and research, investors can become well equipped to control their own portfolio and investing decisions - and be profitable. Remember, much of investing is sticking to common sense and rationality.

Besides having the potential to become sufficiently skillful, individual investors do not face the liquidity challenges and overhead costs large institutional investors do. Any small investor with a sound investment strategy has just as good a chance of beating the market, if not better, than the so-called investment gurus.
Never underestimate your abilities or your own potential. That is, don't assume you are unable to successfully participate in the financial markets simply because you have a day job.

6. When Buying a Stock, Overlooking the "Big Picture"

For a long-term investor one of the most important - but often overlooked - things to do is qualitative analysis, or "to look at the big picture." Fund manager and author Peter Lynch once stated that he found the best investments by looking at his children's toys and the trends they would take on. Brand name is also very valuable. Think about how almost everyone in the world knows Coke; the financial value of the name alone is therefore measured in the billions of dollars. Whether it's about iPods or Big Macs, no one can argue against real life.

So pouring over financial statements or attempting to identify buy and sell opportunities with complex technical analysis may work a great deal of the time, but if the world is changing against your company, sooner or later you will lose. After all, a typewriter company in the late 1980s could have outperformed any company in its industry, but once personal computers started to become commonplace, an investor in typewriters of that era would have done well to assess the bigger picture.
Assessing a company from a qualitative standpoint is as important as looking at the sales and earnings. Qualitative analysis is a strategy that is one of the easiest and most effective for evaluating a potential investment.

7. Compounding Your Losses by Averaging Down


Far too often investors fail to accept the simple fact that they are human and prone to making mistakes just as the greatest investors do. Whether you made a stock purchase in haste or one of your long-time big earners has suddenly taken a turn for the worse, the best thing you can do is accept it. The worst thing you can do is let your pride take priority over your pocketbook and hold on to a losing investment, or worse yet, buy more shares of the stock since it is much cheaper now.
Remember, a company's future operating performance has nothing to do with what price you happened to buy its shares at. Anytime there is a sharp decrease in your stock's price, try to determine the reasons for the change and assess whether the company is a good investment for the future. If not, do your pocketbook a favor and move your money into a company with better prospects.
Letting your pride get in the way of sound investment decisions is foolish and it can decimate your portfolio's value in a short amount of time. Remain rational and act appropriately when you are inevitably confronted with a loss on what seemed like a rosy investment.

The Bottom Line

With the stock market's penchant for producing large gains (and losses) there is no shortage of faulty advice and irrational decisions. As an individual investor, the best thing you can do to pad your portfolio for the long term, is to implement a rational investment strategy you are comfortable with and willing to stick to. If you are looking to make a big win by betting your money on your gut feelings, try the casino. Take pride in your investment decisions and in the long run, your portfolio will grow to reflect the soundness of your actions.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dangerous Advice For Beginner Investors....

Courtesy : Investopedia

New investors are bombarded with advice from everywhere. Financial television, magazines, websites, financial professionals, friends and family members all have advice on how to structure your investment portfolio. Beginning investors are much more likely to give credence to investment tips than experienced investors. While the advice is meant to be helpful, it may actually be detrimental to the investment newbie.


Here are five examples of the types of dangerous advice given to beginning investors:

1) "Buy Companies Whose Products You Love"

How many times has someone told you that when investing, you should buy companies that make products you love? This can be a risky and expensive proposition.
For example, let's say you want to buy shares of Apple because you love your new iPhone 4G. You buy shares of Apple at its market price and wait to reap the rewards from all of the iPhone sales. The problem with this strategy is that it fails to take price into consideration. Apple may be a great stock to buy at $200, but it could be a pricey investment at $300.
New investors tend to overpay for companies that they really want to own. This buy-at-any-cost philosophy can leave you regretting your stock purchase at the end of the day.

2) "Invest In What You Know"

Investing in what you know is an old investment axiom. This works well for experienced investors who are familiar with lots of companies in different sectors of the economy. This is terrible advice for the investing novice, because it limits your investments to only businesses that you know a lot about.

What if the only companies you know about are in the restaurant industry or retail industry? You may find yourself overinvesting in one or two sectors. Not to mention the fact that you would end up missing out on some great companies in the basic materials industry or technology sector.

3) "Diversify Your Stock Portfolio"

Diversification is supposed to help protect your portfolio from market drops and control risk. It's a great concept, but proper diversification can be difficult to achieve and expensive to do. New investors have difficulty building a properly diversified portfolio because of the costs. If not using an index fund to diversify, constructing a properly balanced portfolio in stocks requires thousands of dollars and may require buying at least 20 individual stocks.

It can also be difficult for new investors to maintain a balance between being diversified and not being overly diversified. If you aren't careful, you could end up owning 50 different stocks and 50 mutual funds. An investor could easily get overwhelmed trying to keep track of such a portfolio.

4) "Trade Your Brokerage Account"

Since the market crash of 2008, more investors are abandoning a buy-and-hold strategy and turning to short-term trading. Financial television shows and market experts have even been recommending that investors trade their accounts. Short-term trading may work for sophisticated investors, but it can crush the confidence of new investors.
Short-term trading requires the ability to time buy and sell decisions just right. It takes lots of available cash to hop in and out of positions. It can also decimate your entire portfolio because of trading fees and bad decision making. Daytrading stocks is a strategy best left to the experts. 

5) "Buy Penny Stocks"

Emails, advertisements, friends and even family members often trumpet penny stock investing for new investors. The attraction of penny stock investing is that it seems like an easy way to get rich quick, since penny stocks are subject to extreme price volatility. If shares of ABC Company are selling for $1.50 per share, you could buy 1,000 shares for $1,500. The hope is that the stock goes to $3 or more so that you could double your money quickly.

It sounds great until you realize that penny stocks trade in the single digits for a reason. They are normally very flawed companies with large debt burdens and whose long-term viability is usually in doubt. Most penny stocks are much more likely to go to zero than to double your money.

The Bottom Line
As you can see, sometimes investment tips can do more harm to your portfolio than good. One size fits all may work for ponchos and raincoats, but it does not work when it comes to investment advice.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Five Steps of a Bubble

          Courtesy : Investopedia


1.    Displacement: A displacement occurs when investors get enamored by a new paradigm, such as an innovative new technology or interest rates that are historically low. A classic example of displacement is the decline in the federal funds rate from 6.5% in May, 2000, to 1% in June, 2003. Over this three-year period, the interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 2.5 percentage points to a historic lows of 5.21%, sowing the seeds for the housing bubble.

2.    Boom: Prices rise slowly at first, following a displacement, but then gain momentum as more and more participants enter the market, setting the stage for the boom phase. During this phase, the asset in question attracts widespread media coverage. Fear of missing out on what could be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity spurs more speculation, drawing an increasing number of participants into the fold.


3.    Euphoria: During this phase,caution is thrown to the wind, as asset prices skyrocket. The "greater fool" theory plays out everywhere.
Valuations reach extreme levels during this phase. For example, at the peak of the Japanese real estate bubble in 1989, land in Tokyo sold for as much as $139,000 per square foot, or more than 350-times the value of Manhattan property. After the bubble burst, real estate lost approximately 80% of its inflated value, while stock prices declined by 70%. Similarly, at the height of the internet bubble in March, 2000, the combined value of all technology stocks on the Nasdaq was higher than the GDP of most nations.
During the euphoric phase, new valuation measures and metrics are touted to justify the relentless rise in asset prices.

4.    Profit Taking: By this time, the smart money – heeding the warning signs – is generally selling out positions and taking profits. But estimating the exact time when a bubble is due to collapse can be a difficult exercise and extremely hazardous to one's financial health, because, as John Maynard Keynes put it, "the markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
Note that it only takes a relatively minor event to prick a bubble, but once it is pricked, the bubble cannot "inflate" again. In August, 2007, for example, French bank BNP Paribas halted withdrawals from three investment funds with substantial exposure to U.S. subprime mortgages because it could not value their holdings. While this development initially rattled financial markets, it was brushed aside over the next couple months, as global equity markets reached new highs. In retrospect, this relatively minor event was indeed a warning sign of the turbulent times to come.

5.    Panic: In the panic stage, asset prices reverse course and descend as rapidly as they had ascended. Investors and speculators, faced with margin calls and plunging values of their holdings, now want to liquidate them at any price. As supply overwhelms demand, asset prices slide sharply.
One of the most vivid examples of global panic in financial markets occurred in October 2008, weeks after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG almost collapsed. The S&P 500 plunged almost 17% that month, its ninth-worst monthly performance. In that single month, global equity markets lost a staggering $9.3 trillion of 22% of their combined market capitalization.




Thursday, December 28, 2017

AMULYA LEASING - UPDATE

As per today's BSE Circular , Scrip ID of Amulya leasing will be changed to APOLLOPIPES Wef:03 January 2018.

 (Link to BSE Circular HERE) .

Saturday, December 2, 2017

5 Methods To Avoid Value Traps ....


Courtesy : Investopedia

In essence, value investing is the practice of identifying financially sound companies with solid future growth prospects that are available at attractively low valuations, with the company's stock trading below its intrinsic value. Some value investors have been drawn into value traps, in which they buy into stocks that may be low priced but that are not genuinely undervalued and whose stock prices may fall substantially further due to company or industry specific conditions that are long-term problems rather than just temporary setbacks.
There are relatively low-priced stocks that are genuine value investing opportunities, and then there are stocks that are low-priced value traps. Learn to look beyond just a low price and maintain a focus on strong fundamentals for a company and the industry in which it is engaged. Here are five warning signs that a stock may be a value trap rather than a real value investing opportunity.

1) A Bad Business Model


No matter how promising a company's statements on its website may seem or how attractively low its stock price may appear, be wary of any company that doesn't have a business model that is both easily understandable and clearly aimed at being profitable. If you can't easily and clearly see how the company's business model should lead to success and profitable revenues, it's probably best to avoid the stock no matter how temptingly low the price may look. Be especially wary of companies that rely on outdated technology. In today's rapidly changing economic world, a company offering a product or service that is outdated, or soon to be outdated, is in serious trouble. This kind of trouble usually results in a stock price that just continues to drop. Technological obsolescence has led to the downfall of many a business in the past couple of decades.

2) Price Too Cheap Compared to Earnings


The price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) is a good financial metric to consider when determining whether a stock is really a bargain or a value trap. If a company's stock price has dropped to the point where it is unreasonably cheap in comparison to earnings, this is often a strong indication that the company is fundamentally unsound. Since the market generally prices stocks in relation to future expected cash flows, consider the forward P/E ratio as well as the trailing P/E.

3) Too Much Debt


Many promising businesses have been undone and sent into bankruptcy by allowing themselves to become overly leveraged. The adage is true that it's much easier to pile up debt than it is to get rid of it. If a company's revenues and stock price have declined, the interest on its outstanding debt becomes a larger percentage of revenues and income. When this happens, the debt usually becomes increasingly difficult to manage. A company carrying a dangerously high debt load has very little room for error or even for minor setbacks in the marketplace. It's probably best to shy away from stocks that have substantially higher debt to equity (D/E) ratios than the industry average.

4) Lack of Competitive Advantage in the Marketplace


Virtually every market sector is increasingly competitive. If you can't look at a company and clearly see that it has a competitive advantage, then it very well may not have one. Consider potential sources of market advantage, such as unique products or proprietary technology, brand identity, less expensive suppliers or production costs, cash reserves or location. Unless a company has at least one competitive advantage that should allow it to succeed on a higher level than its competitors, it is not likely to thrive and grow, and that applies to the value of its stock as well.

5) Lack of Insider Buying


One of the clearest warning signs to stay away from a stock is a lack of insider buying or, even worse, signs of substantial insider selling. Include hedge fund and mutual fund managers in the group of insiders, and be careful if the percentage of funds holding a stock is dropping substantially. If company insiders aren't anxious to scoop up shares of the stock at what looks like a bargain price, then the stock probably isn't such a bargain after all.


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