Monday, September 14, 2015

How I Manage to Monitor So Many Companies

One of the many questions I receive from readers relates to time spent managing my dividend portfolio. The truth is that I have multiple short-cuts, which I utilize to get the right information for me. The other truth is that I try to be efficient with my time.

There are several resources I utilize for doing research.

- My broker

My broker Interactive Brokers is a very helpful tool I utilize. I receive notifications about upcoming dividend payments, which essentially provides a signal when dividends are raised. In addition, I receive notifications of upcoming dividend payments and upcoming quarterly releases on the companies I own. A very helpful tool is the fact that I receive my paper annual reports mailed to me. The months of March through May are characterized by receiving a lot of paper annual reports.

The most helpful thing I learned about monitoring companies, I learned from studying Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha essentially purchased a few shares in many companies, in order to receive their annual reports and significant shareholder correspondence. When you own a small piece of a company, it is much easier to monitor that business. This knowledge will accumulate over time, and would make you ready to act when the right opportunity presents itself.

- Drip Investing

The best list for dividend investors is the list of Dividend Champions maintained and updated by David Fish. This includes helpful information such as years of dividend growth, historical rate of dividend growth, as well as most recent increase. The list is updated every month, which makes it an indispensable tool for any serious dividend growth investor.

- Yahoo Finance

I have several lists in Yahoo Finance. One of those lists includes companies that I own. I frequently check it for abnormal gains or losses. Another list includes a group of companies that I am interested in purchasing – I scan that list for weakness, valuation etc. While Yahoo Finance is not perfect, and frequently has data feed issues, I am able to sort through large lists of securities quickly based on a variety of parameters. I have found that forward earnings estimates to be extremely helpful in cutting through the clutter, and saving me time in quick screening of investment lists. While I do analyze companies one by one, screening the lists of companies I own or would like to own saves me some time and helps me to identify opportunities before anyone else.

- Google Docs

As many of you know, I have several brokers. I also hold positions in a lot of companies. Before I add to an existing position, I always check how much I own in a given security. If I own too much, I would pass on the opportunity for something else. In order to know what I own, my portfolio allocation by sector and security, I need to be organized. I have a spreadsheet in google docs, which includes the companies and shares I own at each broker. This spreadsheet automatically pulls information about quotes, dividends and calculates my portfolio weights ,average yield, earnings, and dividend information.

- Morningstar

A good shortcut for those who do not want to spend time on the SEC website is to use Morningstar. They have information on the past 10 years worth of earnings ,revenues, dividends, shares etc. You can personally collect data on companies you are interested in, and track it on a spreadsheet with multiple tabs. This is particularly helpful if you want to see quickly how a certain company or industry performed beyond what is readily available in the current decade. Many readers have told me that they use Morningstar research reports in their analysis.

- Other sites

I like to read other websites. However, I am picky about the sites I read and the authors I read. I do not want to drown myself in information. Contrary to what many other dividend investors seem to be doing, I like to read information beyond dividend investing.

The resources that can drain a lot of time include reading too many comments on blogs or blog aggregators. While it could be helpful to follow a few blogs, spending all your time on blogs would likely be counterproductive. Spending time monitoring major financial news websites is likely to be counterproductive as well.

What resources do you use to track and manage your dividend portfolio holdings?

Relevant Articles:

- Dividend Investing Resources
The Best Broker for Dividend Investors: Interactive Brokers
How I manage my dividend portfolio
Dividend Champions - The Best List for Dividend Investors
How long does it take to manage a dividend portfolio?

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