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How Do You Organize Your Research?


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I'm curious how everyone here organizes their research? I'm in the midst of changing up my process, and would be curious to hear how others organize their research. Are you all paper? Digital-only? Do you keep a running document? Phyiscal/digital folder per-company?

 

My old process used to entail reading a hard copy of the 10k and writing notes in the margins. But I live in a small apartment so it proved to be untenable and I also never came back to my notes. So I've been trying to go digital, and am now I'm doing the following:

  • One folder per company, containing ~ 3 files (synced via iCloud Drive):
    • Digital Copy of 10K: Use iPad Pro + Apple Pencil for reading and marking up with PDF Expert or Adobe Acrobat
    • Financial Model: Use Computer + Excel (also synced via OneDrive)
    • Running document of company overview, trends, financials, 10k snippets, etc: Use iWork/Pages to outline what the company does, how they make money, and what's going on in the businesses. I also highlight things I think are worth calling out (e.g, falling international sales, segment margins, restructuring charges, etc.. and add links to other sources like research reports, VIC writeups, CoBF thread links, articles

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I have a similar setup to yours. One folder per company and one Word document per company where I put all my notes. Those notes include everything from reading 10-Ks to conference call notes to industry research etc etc. Every new note I add I put a space at the top of the document and the date I'm adding that note so there's a timeline record of my thoughts and analysis that's very easy to follow. Anytime I make a buy or sell I add a note with my current thinking and why I'm making that decision--helps to go back and analyze my thoughts at the time and why I was right or wrong (helps with hindsight bias). That Word document can easily be 20-30+ pages for companies I've watched and owned for a while.

 

The folder also contains one Excel document with a various amounts of spreadsheets for modeling and tracking certain key metrics. Finally, I put a variety of documents in that folder related to the company--presentations, write-ups, industry journals, etc.

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I have a word processor document (I use Pages, but Word or Google Docs would work fine) synched between all my devices where I keep daily notes on everything that I read, tagged by ticker (so I can easily do a search on everything about a single company). I also highlight keywords on each section so it's easy to skim and see what each part is about. In there I put my own notes, thoughts, links to things I read, excerpts, etc.

 

Then I have a dropbox folder with a bunch of sub-folders for every company, where I put all the filings, audio recordings, presentations, transcripts, etc.

 

I create a new investing journal document every year because the size becomes a bit too much otherwise (I've averaged about 300k words/year so far).

 

I also have some spreadsheets where I track my portfolio and individual company valuations (not huge models, I tend to zero in on the few things that I think are important for each company and track those).

 

Apart from that, I just go where things lead me. Don't have a super precise process of research.

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Not using paper anymore.

 

Organize folders by Sector and then sub-sectors and then one folder per company. I use specific naming conventions for folders and documents and it makes it easy to get to what I am looking for.

 

Each company folder has

 

1) A valuation document that follows a template. I update it periodically.

2) A "Notes" document where I gather all the notes about the company.

3) A "Conf Call" document where I copy paste important parts of quarterly conference call transcripts.

4) Sometimes, if there is data that I need to analyze, then I have a "Data" excel spreadsheet.

5) A Data folder where I put all the documents I gather about the company. This is sometimes broken down into subsections.

 

Have a google spreadsheet of key things about all the companies I track organized into "Compounders", "Wide Moat", "Low Quality". This is mainly for me to check daily to see if anything is in the buy range.

 

Have an Investment Dairy where I document what I researched, what I bought or sold, my rationale, etc.

 

Vinod

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You guys should look into using One Note instead of all these word documents and folders.

 

Tried it, it wasn't for me. Also tried Evernote, Trello, etc.

 

The only one I use for general notes and some temporary investing notes is the iOS/Mac Notes app. Quite good since a major update to the backend and frontend a couple years ago.

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