OT - Portfolio Management question

First thanks to everyone on this board. By following the discussions, I feel as though I am continually learning from some very astute and experienced investors. I’ve posted only a few times and my few posts have received some recs, which I greatly appreciate, but honestly, at this point it is beyond me to add much to the discussion, so I mostly lurk. This became clear when someone made a reply to my last post with a question about MercadoLibre’s credit exposure that I was altogether unable to answer. I’m maybe a white belt here, privileged enough to share the dojo with a bunch of black belts. So please forgive the off topic nature of this post.

I really have two questions. First, I have been trying to find revenue growth numbers as far back as 8 quarters, but my Schwab account only lists data for the previous 3 or 4 quarters. I’ve also tried to find EV/S data, but found that this is often behind paywalls, especially if it is a forward ev/s calculation. When you all do your analysis do you use services like Y-charts or any other subscription data service, or is it generally done the old fashioned way, by dissecting the income statement?

Anyways, all of this is discussion is giving me a good idea of the work that is required to truly analyze a stock. Holding a portfolio of 30 stocks as the MF recommends seems to be way too much work for this kind of analysis. I can see why Saul and others here keep a concentrated portfolio.

My portfolio, however, is quite small. I’m 36 years old, with a background in international relations and education. So, my temperament is more seasoned than the typical young investor in their 20s, but I just started investing recently, and am starting with a small base that is just about four years of Roth IRA contributions. I know Charlie Munger once said concentrate on your top 3 positions, and I’m wondering if when starting from a small base, it is advisable to just start out with 3-5 stocks, just to make everything manageable and worth the time it takes to analyze the companies. Twilio, The Trade Desk, and Square would probably be my top picks from the companies that are discussed here, but I also like Wix, New Relic, Nutanix, Paycom, MongoDB and Alteryx. I also like Boston Omaha as a long term, non cloud investment. I guess one of the hardest things about picking an ultra concentrated portfolio would be narrowing down the list. I imagine it gets easier the more I understand about the companies. What do you all think about having a portfolio that is even more concentrated than Saul’s for someone who is starting from a small base? Any advice on how to approach the decision making process would be greatly appreciated.

Anyways, I do realize this post is off topic, so please send me a private message if you would be kind enough to reply. I truly want to be sensitive to the issue of clogging up the board. I really respect all of your thoughts here, and I wonder what your advice is for someone just starting out.


First, I have been trying to find revenue growth numbers as far back as 8 quarters, but my Schwab account only lists data for the previous 3 or 4 quarters. I’ve also tried to find EV/S data,

Value Lines reports typically contain this info. Subscriptions are pricey but many libraries subscribe. My library makes Value Line available to card holders on line through the library website.

S&P reports also contain this info. Some brokers make their reports available for free to investors with accounts.

I’d start by asking the reference desk at your library. They will know what they have and where to find what you want.

The best place for raw data is SEC filings, 10-K and 10-Q


Denny Schlesinger


Kudos for your effort to learn the intricacies of accounting. Isn’t it exciting? Ha!

It’s great to know where the numbers come from, but starting out, there are easier ways to get your information. I would suggest perusing several investing sources, and comparing their data points. This will show you that there ARE differences, and as you get a feel for the data, one of the sites will likely become your go-to source.

It seldom matters if a value point is a few numbers away from the same stat from another source. What matters is the comparison from one time period to another. This is why many investors use only 1 (or 2) sites for their “go-to” data. If you go to for example, Morningstar, for your research data, you can be sure that they treat calculations the same each time. Those steps may not be the same as Value Line or Market Watch use, but they will be the same as last month’s Morningstar stats, and that is what matters.

Homework: Take a financial statement of your favorite company in a spreadsheet for 2 periods and calculate the percent change from Period A to Period B. IMO, this will teach you much about accounting and much about finding growth companies. It will also lead you to decide which data points are worth calculating and which are less important.

The idea should not be to know everything about financials (IMO ONLY!) The idea is to know about the growth (or lack thereof) of the company you are studying. If you can find out in 90 seconds rather than spending the usual 30 minutes of study only to find a dog, you saved 28.5 minutes in your day. Multiply by 6 companies and you saved almost 3 hours so you can now you can invest your time as you see fit. Unless you are married, in that case a wise man/woman will invest his or her time as his or her spouse sees fit. :slight_smile:



just fyi… but portfolio management discussions are off-topic on Saul’s board.

Saul likes and does this old fashioned… very effective…
go through the company’s earnings reports each quarter and make your spreadsheet.
specifically because you want to use non-GAAP or adjusted numbers, this is the best approach.

i just look at revenue and gross margins and share count (to account for dilution)… have been using Morningstar… free account gets you 5 quarters data in a table, and paid accounts give you 10 quarters data… to me just this 10 quarters data is worth M* paid account… it provides comparative quarter going two years back to see the pattern… i dont read their report or look at any other info…
Ofcourse, MF is really among the best for recommendation services but the amount of information you get is very limited.

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