Stock Market Lesson Fundamental Analysis vs Technical Analysis

The stock market can be a confusing place, and part of the reason why so many people are confused when they first begin investing is because there are so many different opinions. One stockbroker might say Telstra is worth buying, but another might tell you to steer clear. How can this be?

One reason for this disparity of views is that different people will use different types of analysis to come to conclusions about stocks. There are two major types of analysis: fundamental and technical.

Number crunching

Fundamental analysis is frequently used by traditional stockbrokers and fund managers, and involves an assessment about a company’s operations. A number of factors will be considered in a fundamental assessment of a company.

These factors include profits, the outlook for the industry the company operates in, forecast profit, key personnel in senior appointments, and who is on the board of directors.

In fundamental analysis, cash flows are particularly important, so the analyst pays close attention to sources of revenue and whether they can be consistently relied upon in the future, plans for business growth to name a few.

The assumptions of the technical analyst

Technical analysis is widely used by private traders, although many stockbrokers and an increasing number of investment funds also utilise this form of analysis. Basically, technical analysis is only about the price, and understanding how is moves today should give us an understanding about how it might move tomorrow.

The use of technical analysis and its effectiveness is based on a number of assumptions about the way the market operates. They are:

- The market price calculates the impact of all the news that drives buyers and sellers

- Human nature is constant, so investors generally react in similar ways to similar situations, which in turn creates repetition in certain price patterns

- Prices are not random and will generally move in trends for significant periods of time.

It’s all in the price…

Technical analysis assumes that all the factors that influence the price of a security have already been factored into place.

This is why technical analysts never concern themselves with why prices go up or down. More interestingly, this is also one of the reasons why often the price will be a leading indicator of published information.

The question is, of course, which form of analysis should you use? Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut answer.

At the Australian Stock Report, we use both forms of analysis, but with an understanding that you need to make sure the analysis you are using suits both the company and the timeframe in which you want to hold the stock.