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Basic Research Unlocks Additional Investing Power

Many investors buy and sell stocks according to chart factors alone, without ever really knowing anything about the companies, their products, their management or markets.

It's a plausible strategy for chasing short-term or intermediate gains. But if you want to stalk big winners, it pays to be more far-sighted.

So where do you start

Maybe you've picked a stock from IBD's Your Weekly Review, Big Cap 20 or IBD 50. You have looked over the chart, read the chart analysis and looked over the earnings growth and other data in the at Investors.com.

You are interested and want to learn more.

The first steps are easy.

At the bottom of the Stock Checkup page you'll find a list of recent IBD articles. Scan through those, particularly any pertinent New America or Industry Snapshot articles.

For broader perspective, go to IBD's Get Quote page for the stock, where you'll find a list of the other top stocks in the industry.

Chase down some New America and other articles on a couple of these and your fundamental research will be off and running.

A company's 10-K (annual) and 10-Q (quarterly) regulatory filings are always worth reading. These are available through a number of different avenues. The most direct is through the Securities and Exchange Commission's Edgar system, available at the SEC website.

Say you want to read more about Green Mountain Coffee (GMCR). There you would find its most recent 10-K filed on Nov. 28. Its most recent 10-Q was filed Feb. 6.

The annual filings give you the broadest description of the company, its markets, products, customers and operations. Quarterly filings give you the most recent read on sales and earnings growth, segment activity and debt.

It is also worth dedicating at least a half-hour or so to looking at a company's website. This is a good place to find out more about a company's history, operations, products and strategy.

Another good, direct source of information: company earnings conference calls.

These are generally available through the investors page on a company's website. Green Mountain Coffee, like many companies, provides not only an archive of recent and past conference calls, but the slide shows that accompany the company earnings presentations.

Also, regularly scan Yahoo Finance and Google Finance for breaking news on your target companies. In additon to Investors.com, news organizations including Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Bloomberg News provide numerous company news stories.