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6 time-saving tips for speeding up investment research
October 21, 2019
5 min read
AlphaSense Smart Search technology is routinely touted as an efficient way to perform equity and company research to increase time savings.
Within that efficiency lies two factors: One is connected to the breadth and depth of data accessible to you. The second factor is time efficiency. Not only can you find what others miss, but you can do so quickly.
I believe it’s easy to forget just how much of a game-changer the second factor, time efficiency, can be.
Through reverse search, you can find information that would normally slip through the cracks, because the usual research channels might fall short or are not practical to use for search. Email alerts allow you to automate part of your research (great for competition tracking and quarterly reports). They can even act as a potential screener for new investment ideas.
Recently, I was fine-tuning my research process, step after step, and realized just how much time I saved since I started to use AlphaSense. To properly showcase the savings, here are six more time-saving tips using AlphaSense’s Smart Search capabilities.
1. Stay up-to-date with watchlists and email alerts
Right from the get-go, you can use AlphaSense to generate a list of companies to research. Once you establish your search parameters for those companies, you can save those searches and set up automated email alerts that contain a “snippet” of each of the results. These searches can contain companies from your industry focus, favorite management teams, or investors moving into a new stock. It could also include keywords tied to special situations.
While it’s difficult to quantify the exact amount of time you can save by using email alerts in AlphaSense, this example might be useful: From time to time, I look at special situations, such as tenders or liquidations due to the potential opportunity for arbitrage. In AlphaSense, I set up relevant keywords tied to these situations, and I receive an email once any company mentions these keywords in their filings or press releases. This saves me from searching on other platforms that are sometimes inaccurate or fail to locate all results. It also saves me from scouring through RSS feeds.
2. Reduce time with keyword search
After I find a research topic, I always start my process by taking notes from the latest SEC filings, the most recent 10Q, and the most recent 10K to get a basic understanding of the company and the underlying trends.
Once complete, I usually identify questions I have about the company that is important to understand in order to build a solid investment thesis. At this point, I set out to find answers to these questions.
Most of the time, I need to peruse past SEC filings. Prior to using AlphaSense, I was forced to either read through large portions of the filings in detail or try to open every relevant SEC filing and check whether the company mentioned something connected to my question.
Now I can simply insert the keyword search into AlphaSense and immediately identify filings and specific portions of these fillings that are relevant. This can save you a few minutes if the search is relatively simple, but more often than not, we are talking about saving several hours.
3. Table extraction for simple data collection
While some analysts might use XBRL files to automatically pull data, not every table might be recurring. You might just want to download it as soon as you encounter it in the SEC document. Without AlphaSense, you would either need to utilize XBRL or manually rewrite the table, which costs you time.
4. Upload internal files for better asset management
You can take notes within AlphaSense on any document or upload your own research notes. Uploading your own research makes the content instantly searchable. While there are some software providers that allow for note aggregation, having everything all in one place saves time. And I don’t know of any other platform that allows you to annotate all documents already on the platform.
5. Streamline complex searches to find relevant data
Another crucial research step is learning about the insiders or large shareholders. For example, you may want to understand the track record of management, whether they had success in the past, and whether they have enough experience. By searching for the names of the directors or top management, you can bypass the usual searches on other platforms instantly find relevant information about the past of the directors instead.
You can also see where else the management is involved and in what capacity. This reduces a step normally needed to access and review separate SEC filings.
Furthermore, you can streamline research about large shareholders. You can skip using websites that track insider holdings and replace that with a quick keyword search on AlphaSense. This will help you understand if the investor has an activist past and answer any other relevant questions within minutes.
6. Macro/competition research
Perhaps the largest time savings come in the last stages of your research. You can offload a lot of SEC filings searches related to either the industry or the competitors within the industry to AlphaSense.
A search performed on AlphaSense takes you through a global database of public and private companies. It allows me to access an unprecedented level of detail and achieve time efficiencies.
And, finally, keyword searches on AlphaSense are automatically expanded to include synonyms. This is a huge time saver for all of us who don’t have the time to run separate searches for every way a term can be mentioned.
It should be obvious that my research process now revolves around AlphaSense. I no longer spend hours combing through SEC filings. I raise a simple keyword search, and within seconds, see meaningful results, and I can find answers to most of my questions within minutes.
Because you can rarely put a price on time, I have to paraphrase the age-old Mastercard ad: Time-savings via Alpha-Sense? Priceless.
Jan Svenda is an independent equity analyst focused on the U.S. Small/Micro-cap space. He searches for long ideas trading around Net Current Assets Value (NCAV) and for short ideas which showcase a significant potential for aggressive or manipulative accounting.
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