How do you read a 10-k / ramp up on a name?

Obviously there are tons of threads of the specifics of what to read on a 10-k, looking through presentations, etc. But if you're trying to ramp up on a new name/technology that you are unfamiliar with (in my circumstance renewable energy technology) and are doing it an individual investor level (i.e. no access to SS or otherwise subject matter experts), how would you go about learning the nuances of the business? I've found google and youtube helpful for 10,000 foot view items but as you need more detailed info it gets tougher. Investor Relations won't respond I've found, so just trying to better understand how to go about this.


If you have no access to paid materials and no special insight into an industry, you shouldn’t be in the business of stock picking 

this isn’t me being condescending — odds of success are not stellar even with access / paid tools, they are even lower when you’re flying half blind


Some ideas that you should be able to do:

Transcripts from management presentations at conferences / earnings calls

Competitor filings and commentary

Reading industry magazines / publications

Cold emailing industry experts and customers for time to talk (easier if you’re a student - I’ve also had a lot more luck on this one if the industry is not glamorous and you’re dealing with a bunch of random people who think it’s cool you even want to talk to them)

For very specialized subjects it really takes time and for me personally, talking to a lot of industry experts is the most efficient way to understand the relevant competitive dynamics / products

Most Helpful

I’m currently at a large LO (Fidelity, Capital, Wellington, etc.) covering Software and what I found most useful is this:

  1. Start with understanding how the business makes money (pay per use/seat, product split, geo, etc.) and what the addressable market is/how fast it’s growing. Keep it simple.
  1. Listen/read the last four quarters of earnings calls and an analyst day if avail - this will give you a sense of what the SS is focused on (a new cloud product, developer toolset, etc) that is expected or is already making a dent in the P&L.
  1. Understand where competitions are positioned for the top 3-5 products/services and try to do channel checks around competition - this will give you a better sense of what customers are looking for when choosing the product/service.
  1. If you don’t understand a certain technology, product, etc. turn to YouTube or the like to get a visual representation of how things work.
  1. Turn to the filings - look at the managements commentary on the market, growth drivers, etc. knowing that these will likely not be as targeted as what the SS is looking for. That’s okay. At the end of the day ~3 things move a stock fundamentally (ARR growth, NRR, OPMs,etc), see if you have a thesis you can work with to dig deeper, basing it on what investors are looking for (a new product release that will contribute x%/y% of growth/OP).
  1. Talk with past employees, have more targeted discussions with management/IR/SS.
  1. Have fun.

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