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Know Your Stocks

Know Your Stocks
Part of being confident about a position you take in a stock relates to having some understanding of the company behind the stock. Although it is impossible to know every little detail about the day to day operation of every business you buy stock in it does help if you have a basic understanding of the type of business they are in and how news (positive or negative) may relate to and impact a company and their stock. 
Obviously we are not talking about day trading here.  In day trading we do not need to know anything about a company at all since we will close the position at the end of the day.  But for longer term holds (or even a swing trade you plan to hold for a few weeks or months) you may want to know a little something about the company.  For instance you may want to know that RIMM has a patent infringement case against them that could shut down all the blackberries in the U.S. pending a judge's decision and that 70% of their revenue comes from those U.S. customers.  This is situation I would not feel very comfortable with holding a long position over night. Or you may want to know that ISRG's surgical robots are only in 20% of U.S. hospitals and they have not even started marketing their robots outside of the U.S. There are still tremendous growth opportunities for the company both in the U.S. and abroad so you may want to know that before you take a short position in the stock. 

Not Essential but it Doesn't Hurt
Knowing the company before you take a position in a stock will not only help you feel more comfortable about the position but it will allow you to evaluate news which may be released regarding the company more quickly.  Knowing a company is not essential to traders but it does not hurt to have the information available to you when making your trading decisions.  For investors it is an essential part of investing for obvious reasons. 
When GOOG had its IPO I was negative on the stock because I had seen and traded through the internet bubble of 2000.  I saw stocks trade over $200 that had no earnings.  I knew GOOG was profitable but had no idea how profitable or how much their growth rate was.  It was not until after their 2nd quarter earnings report that I decided to read the report and look through the 10K.  After that eye opener I decided to research the company more.  I could have bought the stock at $100 on the first day of trading but instead my prejudice about the internet bubble got the best of me and I failed to even look into the possibilities of an investment. 

Not So Late After All
The stock was $180 when I first started to look into the company and finally at $225 I took my first position.  For me it was not a trade it was an investment. I realized at that time that this company was going to be huge.  The possibilities for it were endless.  We are all searching for the next MSFT and for me; I believed then that GOOG had the best chance of becoming the powerhouse MSFT once was.  Companies like MSFT do not come around very often. So when a company with that potential does come around I want to be up to my neck in it.  I never would have been involved with GOOG if I had not done the research to be able to know the company. I was a little late with my entry at $225 but right now at $425 a share (200 points above my entry) it really does not seem so late after all.

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