This site heavily focuses on technical analysis, but through experience, I learned that a company's fundamentals must be understood to properly access risk. The stronger the company is fundamentally the less risk there is when holding. Keep in mind the best trader out there: Warren Buffet, is famous for value investing, so it's always good to have a solid understanding of this strategy, even if you won't be using it much going forward.

This article will cover five fundamental financial metrics you should understand before trading and investing in a stock. As, fundamentals do matter (unless day trading), even if your trading strategy heavily focuses on Technical Analysis. I really can't emphasize this enough, you really need to understand what you are investing in. Investing in the hype with no fundamentals to back the stock up will humble you in the Market.

Always be asking, do the fundamentals support the hype? What happens if the company enters a rough patch in the next few months/years? Do they have enough cash, or will they have to go bankrupt, thus wiping their stock to $0? These are the questions you need to have answered. For example, the fundamentals are never there when trading small-cap oil stocks. A sharp drop in Oil Prices usually sends these companies into bankruptcy.

Fundamental Analysis

For analyzing the fundamentals of a stock, let's use Tesla ($TSLA) as an example where the CEO Elon Musk is always in the news for various reasons. Tesla has been making all the right noises lately and just continues to defy everyone's expectations as it powers to never-ending all-time highs. Many people think the stock is overvalued, but what is the basis for this claim? Hopefully, the basic metrics covered will give you a starting point to answer if Tesla's market cap is justified.

The following are five value investing metrics. They are easily found when looking up stock quotes in your favorite broker or app, as well as covered in quarterly reports by every publicly traded company.

Earnings Growth: Tesla's year-on-year revenue improvement reported for the third quarter is 39.16%, marginally lower than its recent surge of a staggering 193%. However, Tesla Inc. stands 2nd in the Auto and truck manufacturing industry when it comes to revenue growth. Always remember that the fluctuation in revenue growth for a stock doesn't need to be huge, but should be consistent.

Plowback Ratio and Reserves: Dividends and plowbacks are a part of the company's net profit. These are obtained after deducing all expenses of a company including all applicable taxes. A dividend is what the company gives to its shareholders. Plowback is that part of the company's net profit which the company adds to its existing reserves that are further used for the growth/expansion of the company. Strong reserves indicate strong fundamentals and growth.

Debt-to-Equity Ratio: The latest report for Tesla Inc. indicates this ratio at 1.80. It is obtained by dividing the total debt of the company by shareholder's equity. The biggest companies have liabilities and debts on their balance sheets. Ideally, companies with lower debt-to-equity ratios are considered to be the best bet, but it depends on the magnitude of the industry too.

Price-to-Earnings Ratio: The trailing twelve-month P/E of Tesla stands at 129.12X. This is not at par with the Automotive - Domestic Industry's P/E which stands at 15.71X. The P/E ratio is one of the major indicators of how a stock is performing and how much a shareholder is earning. For example, if a stock has a P/E ratio of 25, it indicates that the stock is trading at 25 times its TTE (trailing twelve months' earnings). The lower the number, the better it is considered to be. In my opinion, the P/E ratio is outdated and really doesn't apply to the most popular growth stocks today.

Dividend: Tesla doesn't pay a dividend to its shareholders. However, the stock's share price has returned over 850% within the last few years, despite being negative in 2021. If a company pays dividends consistently, it shows that it is stable and deep-rooted. A higher dividend may often be an indicator of instability within the company. Also, it shows that the company has no growth plans. So you may get worse returns with stocks that pay "good" dividends (basically those that pay higher than a savings rate).

Bonus Tip: Never trust reports that come out of China or any other company outside of the United States, as the majority of the time the accounting and reporting are greatly exaggerated to the point it is often fraud!


Hopefully, this article gives you a nudge into thinking about fundamentals, even if you are purely a technical trader. You always need to think outside the box and consider every edge you can get, and also protect yourself from the worst-case scenario when you decide to hold a stock overnight. Because worst-case scenarios unfortunately happen way more than you think!

For more into understanding Fundamental Analysis, I suggest checking out Fundamental Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide.