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?


  1. I use several websites as well.
    I read Yahoo Finance, I use the quotes as well as the estimates for the next couple of years.
    I read as it shows very clearly dividend history as well as EPS and revenues for the last decade.
    I read Seeking Alpha to track news and articles about roughly 60-80 companies.
    I also read several bloggers in order to hear some more opinions.

    Tracking isn't something that actually takes a lot of my time. I make sure dividends are in order, EPS and revenues are in line etc. I don't read every presentation and every report. When a company performs out of the ordinary whether for good or for bad, I investigate some more.

    1. Those are all good resources. I like Seeking Alpha, but I have found I can easily spend 4 - 5 hours there so I try to cut my usage ( a lot of time I start reading comments and tend to disagree with internet trolls which is always a waste of time)

  2. finviz is a good website to get a snap shot stock you may be interested in puchasing.

  3. Since my 401k is with Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, I take advantage of the tools that they provide: ML/BoA, Morningstar, and S&P Capital IQ reports. Each of these reports is valuable in different ways, and it is also useful to see how they differ. I also read a couple of other blogs besides this one, plus reports from select authors at Seeking Alpha. A subscription to FASTGraphs helps to quickly identify stocks which are trading above or below fair value (or even where the long term average is in relation to fair value). is a must for dividend information, and Google docs are great tracking tools.

    Speaking of ML/BoA, I have had problems with dividends that are received, the funds taken for reinvestment, but shares not distributed. This has happened with both HCN and SO in the past 4 weeks. For example, SO paid dividends on the 5th of this month, the money was deposited and paid out on the 8th, but as of today (the 14th) the additional shares have not been credited. I keep the 401k because 401ks are protected against lawsuits, and since the portfolio is mature, I don't pay much in commissions. However, I would never recommend ML/BoA to anyone. They have made several mistakes over the years, but the worst involved a 2 for 1 split of DIS stock about 20 years ago. After the split, my 100 shares remained 100. Long story short, I waited a week, called and talked to three "specialists" and a manager, and was told that I was not eligible for the shares. Funny, I had the stock for a couple of years prior to the split, but they didn't seem to grasp "record date" or "ex-dividend date". I went to my human resources department which resulted in the person responsible at my workplace contacting ML. Right, it literally took a Senior Vice President from a Fortune 500 company calling ML to get them to fix my account. Needless to say, I track my portfolio very carefully with an Excel spreadsheet and verify that everything is done properly, for the 401k, Roth IRAs, and taxable account.

    1. That sounds like a bummer. Double ( and even triple) checking is important. I have found that having money at multiple brokers and types of accounts is helpful too for a variety of reasons.

    2. Hi Keith, the DIS situation sounds like a nightmare, the root cause surely being a software error. I assume such technology is miles more reliable these days. You say you track everything through your own spreadsheet, so I'm wondering if you've every encountered any similar mistakes with any of your accounts over the last several years, though not as egregious as the DIS one, obviously.

  4. Nice selection of tools. I like to use Yahoo finance, Scottrade and an Excel spreadsheet to do most of my tracking and research. The blog community of dividend investors have some helpful tips. But your are right lot of them can become information overload. I like dividend investing but I also like to write about other things in life that interest me like: foraging, hiking, and gardening. Thanks for the good tools.

  5. How did you get interactive brokers to send paper annual letters? I thought they only send out electronic correspondence?

  6. DGI, thanks for another great post. Do you have a free source that you use to look at 10 year historical P/E ratios?

    1. Not really. You can piece it yourself using sources listed above though

  7. Back in the 80s and 90s I had a subscription to Value Line. It was (almost) better than Playboy and Penthouse. Does anyone get anything in print anymore?

  8. Re: Monitoring
    I received a copy of Quicken 2016 - thought that they would have an investment monitoring solution. I am comfortable with spreadsheets, but not familiar with how one can have it automatically 'pull' info vs. manually entering.

    DGI Quote: "This spreadsheet automatically pulls information about quotes, dividends and calculates my portfolio weights ,average yield, earnings, and dividend information."

    Is that a selection in formatting cells Google Spread has?


    1. Hi Bob,

      You may like this article here:

      It is not written by me, but it tracks things pretty similarly to how I do it

      Best Regards,


  9. That was my question also... how to go about setting up a spreadsheet that automatically pulls in particular stock holdings information. You mention having that, but don't explain how it's arranged.

  10. Hello DGI. I am a bit surprised you use Google Docs. I am worried about lack of privacy around google free applications. For example, I was using Google Picasso to store my photos until I found out that once in a while Google changes its privacy policy and made openly available all my pictures.
    Any thought from you or some of your readers? Thank you

  11. I am exploring this model but I don't recall including account numbers or financial references - you just include stock symbols.
    If concerned, maybe consider creating an alias gmail account and access the google spreadsheet that way.


Questions or comments? You can reach out to me at my website address name at gmail dot com.

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