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Security Analysis - Does it Matter?

Posted by Web |  From:Web  |  Views: 8177

Wall Street has scores of analysts, strategists and portfolio managers hired to do one thing: beat the market. Analysts are hired to find undervalued stocks. Strategists are hired to predict the direction of the market and various sectors. Portfolio managers are hired to put it all together and outperform their benchmark, usually measured as the S&P 500. Granted, there are many studies and disputes raging on the performance of equity mutual funds, but it is safe to assume that about 75% of equity mutual funds underperform the S&P 500. With these kinds of stats, individual investors would surely be better off simply investing in an index fund rather than attempting to beat the market wouldn't they?

The added value of analysis is in the eye of the beholder. A fundamental analyst believes that analyzing strategy, management, product, financial statistics and many other readily and not-so-readily quantifiable numbers will help choose stocks that will outperform the market. They are also likely to believe that there is little or no value in analyzing past prices and that technical analysts would be better off stargazing. (Humph!) The technical analyst believes that the chart, volume, momentum and an array of mathematical indicators hold the keys to superior performance. Technicians are just as likely to believe that fundamental data is hogwash pure and simple. And then there are the Random Walkers who believe that any attempt to try and outwit the market is futile.

So whom do we believe? Is fundamental analysis worth the time and effort? Are technicians a bunch of quacks? Or is it all a lesson in random futility? Let's start to clarify things by looking at the efficient market hypothesis and see where the fundamentalists, technicians and random walkers stand on the question of market efficiency. After we have explored this area, we will then take a closer look at the random walk theory, fundamental analysis and technical analysis.