How to Find Companies to Invest In

Updated: December 18, 2019

Do you want to learn how to find companies to invest in? Are you interested in strategies designed to be used to uncover the best stock to buy? If interest rates increase, financial services companies are likely to be winners because, with higher interest rates they make more money on their loans. Losers might include leveraged companies that must constantly borrow to keep afloat. The opposite is true if interest rates decrease. That’s why, if you’re trying to find companies to invest in, you should start by checking the company’s balance sheet.

Selecting New Companies to Invest In

When selecting new companies to invest in, consider choosing companies from a variety of sectors. There are 11 sectors in the S&P 500 to choose from. The companies included in the sectors could be a good choice for value investing, growth investing and/or paying dividends. These sectors include financial, technology, telecom, real estate, utility, material, energy, consumer staple, industrial, consumer discretionary and health care companies. There is a price range for most any portfolio size. By diversifying the industry groups and sectors that make up their portfolio, investors could have the opportunity to put themselves in a position to benefit from the stronger stocks in the portfolio, in spite of weaker ones that they may hold, thereby potentially reducing overall losses.

Investors could also consider sector, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Sector ETFs consist of a group of stocks; this means that an investor does not have single stock risk, which is the risk of one company losing significant value and resulting in catastrophic loses. The sector ETFs are weighted so no one company should be able to destroy the performance of the group. By diversifying into different sector ETFs, the stronger sectors should outperform the weaker sectors in a bull market. The Sector ETFs include growth stocks and value stocks (dividend paying). Growth stocks tend to be more volatile, rising quickly in bull markets and crashing in bear markets. Dividend stocks usually rise more slowly in bull markets and fall less in bear markets.

Below you will find a list, in our opinion, of top stocks in the financial, technology, real estate and consumer staples sectors of the S&P 500, as well as some Exchange Traded Funds that represent each sector. These might be a good place for a beginning investor to start when choosing stocks, though each one should be evaluated to see if they meet the individual’s overall goals and risk parameters.

Financials Technology Real Estate Consumer Staples Sector ETFs
Berkshire Hathaway Microsoft Corp Vanguard Real Estate Procter & Gamble XLF Financials ETF
JPMorgan Chase & Co Apple Inc American Tower Corp Coca-Cola XLK Technology ETF
Bank of America Visa Inc Class A Simon Property Group PepsiCo IYZ Telecom ETF
Wells Fargo & Co Cisco Systems Inc Crown Castle Walmart RWR Real Estate ETF
Citigroup Intel Corp Prologis Mondelez XLU Utilities ETF
American Express Co Mastercard Inc A Equinix Costco XLB Basic Materials ETF
US Bancorp Adobe Inc Public Storage Colgate-Palmolive XLE Energy ETF
Goldman Sachs Group Oracle Corp Welltower Philip Morris XLY Consumer Staples ETF
Chubb Ltd PayPal Holdings Inc AvalonBay Communities Altria Group XLI Industrials ETF
CME Group Inc Equity Residential Kimberly-Clark XLP Consumer Dis. ETF

Remember, there are many more than just these stocks and ETFs to choose from. With thousands of publicly traded stocks available, finding the best stocks to invest in can be a daunting—but potentially beneficial—task. Here are 5 common strategies to help you determine the ideal companies for your investment strategy.

Finding Companies To Invest in Based on Your Strategy

  1. If you want “bargain” stocks, look at VALUE INVESTING.
  2. If you want long term growth, but not current income, consider GROWTH STOCKS.
  3. For short-term income in a usually conservative investment, think about DIVIDEND STOCKS.
  4. To avoid putting too much of a portfolio in one stock (or buying an odd lot that’s harder to trade) look at stocks with a SHARE PRICE OF $50 OR LESS.
  5. Those looking for a more liquid investment need to be sure VOLUME IS 100K SHARES PER DAY OR MORE.

As you can see, value investing, growth stocks and dividend stocks all have their fans. The approach we use in stock trading training at Online Trading Academy is to find ticker symbols that fit individual goals.

How to find companies to invest in.

Value Investing

In order to learn how to find good stocks to invest in, let’s start with value investing—a favorite of “buy and hold” investors as opposed to day traders. Warren Buffett and, before him, Benjamin Graham were experts at this strategy. To find companies to invest in they’d look for companies with strong management and a product you could understand, combined with value—a stock price that was significantly below what it should be.

In Graham’s day, and even in Buffet’s early years, this involved some good detective work because many corporate financial numbers weren’t readily available. Today, it’s a lot easier to find stock trading information via the Internet and new measurements have been created to define a company’s strength and performance. Analysts and brokers have subscription services that will rate a stock according to various yardsticks, making it much easier to find what are potentially the best stock to invest in. Examples are Dow Chemical (ticker: DOW) and Whirlpool Corp. (ticker: WHR) that have recently made some value lists because these two famous American companies have been beat down to a very low price by market and operational setbacks.

Value investing—the Buffett/Graham approach—is as popular as ever, particularly in an aging bull market like today (August 2019) where stocks overall have gotten expensive. However, investors may be misled into buying a stock just because it’s cheap. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the company’s business may be in decline or that it’s facing regulatory or management problems meaning the stock is fairly priced, even at a low level.

Examples of stocks with potential for value investing

Here are five value stocks as of July 15, 2019 based on two criteria: a price/book ratio (P/B Ratio) of less than 3 (indicating the stock has a very low price relative to its book value) and a dividend yield of 3% or higher (indicating the company is financially healthy enough to pay dividends). We used a screener provided by Fidelity Investments, but given the same inputs any broker’s screen should return similar results:

Symbol Company Price Price/Book Ratio Dividend Yield %
ADM Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. $41.70 1.25 3.34%
APA Apache Corporation $26.68 1.45 3.72%
BBT BB&T $50.07 1.39 3.77%
CAG Conagra Brands, Inc. $27.69 1.82 3.08%
CAH Cardinal Health, Inc. $47.36 2.28 4.03%

Growth Stocks

Growth stocks are those companies whose business and market share is increasing, causing investors to believe that the price of the stock will rise along with the company’s fortunes. Chipotle Mexican Grill (ticker: CMG), and Facebook, Inc. (ticker: FB), are good examples in today's market. They are two very large companies which have rewarded investors with steady share increases over the years. Growth stocks typically pay small or no dividends, so you’re counting on share price increases and not regular income when you buy them. A classical ETF that represents growth stocks is the Russell 2000 ETF (ticker: IWM). Many individual stocks in the Russell are smaller companies that have good growth potential such as Brooks Automation (ticker: BRKS), Petmed Express (ticker: PETS), Yoya Financial (ticker: VOYA), Innoviva (ticker: INVA), and Benchmark Electronics (ticker: BHE).

Examples of stocks with high potential for growth investing

Here are five growth stocks as of as of July 15,2019 based on the Price/Earnings to Growth ratio (PEG), a common measure to determine the future value of a stock combining its present day value and growth prospects:

Symbol Company Price Peg Ratio
GM General Motors Co. $39.05 0.42
HST Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. $18.22 0.47
CVX Chevron Corporation $126.22 0.65
FITB Fifth Third Bancorp $28.03 0.67
NAVI Navient Corporation $13.44 0.81

Dividend Stocks

Dividend stocks pay potentially high yields and traditionally have a more stable stock price; these appeal to stock market investors looking for short-term income, not appreciation. Dividend stocks have been more attractive in the recent environment of very low interest rates, which make bond investments relatively unappealing. But as interest rates rise, so do bond yields, and that is likely to hurt the share price of dividend stocks. Keep in mind that if a dividend stock pays 3% annually but its share price goes down 10%, then you would have a net loss of 7% if you decided to sell.

Examples of stocks with potential for dividend investing

Here are five dividend stocks as of July 15, 2019 with price trading higher than the 50-day simple moving average (SMA). This is to ensure a high dividend percentage is not created by a declining stock price.

Symbol Company Price Dividend Yield % Distance From 50-Day SMA
GM General Motors Co. $39.05 3.88% 5.47%
CVX Chevron Corporation $126.22 3.78% 3.93%
FITB Fifth Third Bancorp $28.03 3.40% 1.69%
NAVI Navient Corportation $13.44 4.70% 0.56%
PBCT People's United Financial, Inc. $16.70 4.70% 1.46%

Stocks by Price

Buying expensive stocks (like GOOG or AMZN, both of which trade at over $1000 per share) or very expensive stocks like BRK/A (over $300,000) reduces flexibility simply because you can have fewer stocks in your portfolio. We recommend using a price of $50 per share or less and buying in even lots (100 shares or multiples) when possible.

Examples of stocks under $50 with top 5-day price performance

These are five stocks less than $50 per share that are also trading higher than the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) as of July 15, 2019.

Symbol Company Price Distance From 50-Day SMA
GM General Motors Co. $39.05 5.47%
F Ford Motors $10.39 3.17%
CTL Century Link, Inc. $12.25 11.36%
HBAN Huntington Bancshares Inc. $13.69 1.87%
RF Regions Financial Corporation $15.02 2.81%

Stocks by Volume

Thinly-traded stocks can be difficult to sell in a timely fashion, meaning you may experience a wide gap between the bid and ask prices or (in a worst case scenario) might not be able to find a buyer at any price. As a rule of thumb, we look for stocks which have a daily volume of 100,000 shares or higher, which includes virtually all actively-traded shares.

Examples of stocks with highest daily trading volume

These are five stocks with the highest average volume (over 10 million shares) for 3 months as of July 15, 2019.

Symbol Company Price Volume (3 Months)
F Ford Motor Co. $10.39 36.46 M
WFC Wells Fargo & Co, $46.72 18.48 M
HAL Halliburton Co. $23.73 12.57 M
T AT&T Inc. $33.69 27.95 M
JPM JPMorgan Chase & Co. $114.07 11.14 M

At Online Trading Academy, we recommend that students set their investing goals and the style of investing before they consider buying any stock. Then they can identify stocks that meet their specific criteria, and finally identify the specific Demand Zone in which to buy. Even the best stock isn’t a good investment if the timing isn’t right or it isn’t appropriate for your needs.

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This content is intended to provide educational information only. This information should not be construed as individual or customized legal, tax, financial or investment services. As each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should be consulted before making legal, tax, financial and investment decisions.

The educational information provided in this article does not comprise any course or a part of any course that may be used as an educational credit for any certification purpose and will not prepare any User to be accredited for any licenses in any industry and will not prepare any User to get a job. Past results are not a guaranty of future performance.

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