Investing Basics Articles

  • Extreme Anxiety: Evaluating Current Market Levels »

    It is easy to be swept up in deep market swings. But markets rarely stay at historical extremes. The big question is: What is "normal"? One practical approach is to examine relative fundamental values over time.

  • Market Barometers: A Look at Stock Indexes and How They Work »

    You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, but you do need a stock market index to know which way the stock winds are blowing. A look at stock market indexes and what they are telling you.

  • Stand Up and Be Counted: How to Value a Stream of Payments »

    Are you overlooking a large pool of assets? That may occur when it is hard to put a number on an asset--for example, valuing a guaranteed steady payment stream, such as pension plan and Social Security payments, for retirees. Ignoring those assets may cause you to be too over-invested in fixed income. But how do you value a stream of payments? A look at one approach

  • Proxy Voting »

    Proxy ballots give investors a voice and proxy materials contain important information.

  • Beginning Investor: How to Start »

    Beginning investors can learn how to take that first step in this new column.

  • The Basics of Portfolio Allocation »

    Learn what an asset class is and get some simple allocation strategies.

  • Dividend Safety Signs and Warning Flags »

    Many investors have sought shelter from the stock market storm in more mature dividend-paying companies. But in this market environment, how can you be sure a company has the financial resources to continue payments? Signs and warning flags you can use to evaluate the safety of a company's dividend payment stream.

  • Dogs of the Dow »

    Every January, Dogs of the Dow draws attention. A look at the current list, and a suggestion of a better way to use the screen.

  • The Bottom Line: How to Calculate Your Portfolio's Return »

    The question every investor wants to know is: How well am I doing? Although some people are satisfied simply watching the dollars grow, most investors want that translated into a performance figure. A look at two methods for calculating your portfolio's return.

  • All Averages Are Not Created Equal »

    Average returns are reported in many different types of listings. Most individuals assume those averages are all calculated in the same way. In fact, they are not. A look at the different "averages," and how they are calculated.

  • Making Sense of Profits Using Profitability Ratios »

    Long-term investors buy stocks with the expectation that the company will produce a growing stream of earnings. Profits point to a firm's growth and staying power. But profit figures are absolute numbers that don't relate to the size of the company. How can you put the numbers into context? A look at profitability ratios.