Some of Our Tools of the Trade
We tell this story all the time. The business of investment has changed tremendously over the years. Back in the day it used to be an exercise in collecting information and information was scarce. We had the daily newspaper, some snippets on the radio and TV and an occasional research piece and that was all we had to make investment decisions.
Today is totally different. Information comes at people through a firehose. Non-stop BNN / MSNBC television, a relentless outpouring on the internet. Inboxes that are jammed with the latest “stock ideas”. For the average person it can be very difficult to decipher the useful data points from the noise in order to make informed investment decisions. Here are a few of our “go to” sources of information that help us formulate our own investment thoughts.
Bloomberg & Thomson One
You can subscribe to the Bloomberg app for free at www.bloomberg.com The first thing every day we track 5 different data points;
- Price of oil (as goes oil, so goes the Canadian market)
- Canadian dollar vs. US dollar
- 10-year bond yields in both Canada and the U.S.
- Price of gold
- Today’s futures for the TSX and S&P 500
This sets up our day. The next thing you can track also comes from Bloomberg. If you want, you can have an e-mail sent to your inbox automatically every day “Five things you need to know to start your day”. Short, sweet and to the point.
Thomson also has a great news feed and gives us our up to the second market and company data.
Barron’s & The Economist
Our weekend begins Saturday morning reading both Barron’s www.barrons.com and The Economist www.economist.com Neither are cheap to buy but we consider these to be great sources of information on both the U.S. and globally. Barron’s particularly offers many useful ideas and perspective on the North American equity markets.
Morningstar www.morningstar.ca is also an excellent source of useful information on a huge cross section of topics. Stocks, bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Closed End Funds and more. We have to subscribe for deeper levels of research, but there is also lots of information there for free. What we particularly like is the unbiased information rating each of the investments. The Morningstar 5 Star system is well known and well proven. It is the source we rely most upon to rate and monitor Mutual Funds and ETFs. We have a finite list of funds and ETFs that we use in client portfolios and Morningstar is the tool we use to measure and manage them all.
Some Other Great Sources
In addition to those we consider as being key decision making tools mentioned above, there are some others that are useful in our view. Most of which are easily available and most are free;
1. www.etfdb.com A great source of info on ETFs
2. www.seekingalpha.com A host of info on multiple topics
3. www.stockhouse.com The “Bullboards” are sometimes entertaining to read on individual stocks.
Finally, we are also big fans of a select number of portfolio managers and strategists, especially for smaller companies. Philip Petursson as an example is Managing Director, Capital Markets & Strategy at Manulife Asset Management. He heads:
“a team that includes more than 325 investment professionals managing a full spectrum of asset classes with a range of style perspectives. Located around the world, the group is well positioned to gain superior insight into markets at local and international levels.”
Philip’s weekly insights are inspired and an excellent read. I try when I can remember to post the best of them to our blog at http://www.blairadrian.com/blog If you haven’t already, go to the blog and sign up to get notifications.
In addition, we make sure to find the time to listen to what others are thinking, especially when we have the opportunity to pepper them with questions. The published papers are one thing but looking a person in the eye and have them answer your questions directly speaks volumes.
One last thing that you will likely have heard us say before regarding outlandish statements by fund managers or let’s just say “investment types”. If they are making a statement that sounds way out of the box, things like gold at $2,000, oil at $20, Canadian dollar at $1.20. Just ask yourself two questions: Do they run a fund? Or, have they just written a book. In either case they are conflicted.
If there are other financial tools that you think are helpful to you, we would love to hear from you and we will share them over the blog.
In investing, as in flying or sailing, if you think you know everything…..you’re wrong. Thinking conservatively will always keep you safe.