Utilizing a Top-Down Approach to Stock Picking

By Stock Research Pro • April 23rd, 2009

Under the Top-Down approach to stock picking, the investor starts with the big picture, studying global economic trends to identify industries and then the companies within those industries that look to offer good investment opportunities. Most fund management companies utilize this approach in their investing activities and many financial experts recommend this approach to individual investors for building and managing their portfolios.

The Top-Down Investing Philosophy

Top-down investors believe that understanding economic conditions and trends takes primary importance over picking individual stocks. They argue that even companies with strong management and fundamentals will have a difficult time producing profits and growth if conditions are not right for the sector in which they operate.

Steps in the Top-Down Investing Process

Analyze Global Economic Health and Trends: Top-down investing starts with the world economy and an assessment of economic health to determine which regions are struggling and which are demonstrating growth prospects. To make this assessment, the investor will look at gross domestic product (GDP) figures and trends. The investor also takes note of any geopolitical unrest that could impact a country or region.

The focus then shifts to an analysis of the U.S. economy and the specific sectors that might benefit from these global factors.

Assess the State of the U.S. Economy: The next step is to look at the major indicators within the U.S. economy, including interest rates, unemployment levels, and inflation. By combining this information and its impact on various stock sectors with the global trends information, the investor can start to narrow down a focus to those specific industries that would seem to be positioned for growth.

Identifying Specific Stocks within a Sector: The final step is identifying specific stocks within the selected sector(s) that would seem to present the most attractive investment opportunity. By conducting fundamental analysis, the investors can identify those companies in strong financial positions with valuations that would present good upside potential.

A Final Note Regarding Top-Down Stock Investing

While the top-down approach presents a logical method for stock picking, it is not foolproof. Like any stock picking strategy, its success relies on the quality of the information gathered and the final judgment of the investor.


The above information is educational and should not be interpreted as financial advice. For advice that is specific to your circumstances, you should consult a financial or tax advisor.


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