About choosing your publicly traded stock. Before committing to a particular stock:
1. If you had a particular company, brand or store name in mind, make sure it is a publicly traded stock. Look at the basic information sources under A (below) for this or just google the name or look it up in wikipedia to find out what the ownership situation is.
Below: Wikipedia articles on companies show types of ownership:
2. See what information there is on your stock: take a look at some of the sources below, particularly IBISworld and S&Ps Netadvantage (industry information and company information) and see if there is enough information relating to your stock before committing to a particular stock.
A. Basic information: the product line of the company, its markets (type and geographic location of customers), primary processes, location of the company headquarters and major facilities, number of employees, where the company’s stock is traded, and annual sales.
B. The market situation. Give the background and current situation on the needs, perceptions, and buying trends of customers or consumers, as applicable. It should include information on the current size and past growth of the market, either in total, by sub-markets, or by geographic area.
C. The product situation. For at least two of the firm’s major products, a recent history of its sales (physical volume), revenues, costs, and profits should be presented.
Take a look at the sources above, but this data may be a bit hard to come by, as the company would have had to willingly reveal this information or an outside analyst would have had to dig for and/or estimate this. You can also search the database called ABI/INFORM Complete for articles and / or marketing reports. It would help if you knew the names of the product(s). I have found that companies that market products or services that are purchased by the consumers themselves (rather than sold to another another industry or company) tend to have more of this sort of information available. Also industires that have a very large sales volumes ( say, soft drinks or fast food) have a lot of analysts or business writers watching their sales situation, which makes the info easier to find Also, the profits from a particular product or product line would require intimate knowledge of the company's internal numbers and may be really hard to find. (You may have to settle for just sales figures and/or overall profitability for the company or some analyust's statement about how a particular product has helped or hurt profits).
D. The competitive situation. At least two major competitors should be identified and described in terms of their size, goals, market share, product quality, marketing strategies, and anything else that you find necessary to understand the competitors and their intentions.
F. The macroeconomic environment. Discussion of the general economic situation includes such factors as the economic climate (e.g., inflation, unemployment, interest rates, imports and exports), technology, the political situation, legal issues, social issues, and cultural issues.”