A method of evaluating a security that entails attempting to measure its intrinsic value by examining related economic, financial and other qualitative and quantitative factors. Fundamental analysts attempt to study everything that can affect the security’s value, including macroeconomic factors (like the overall economy and industry conditions) and company-specific factors (like financial condition and management).
The end goal of performing fundamental analysis is to produce a value that an investor can compare with the security’s current price, with the aim of figuring out what sort of position to take with that security (underpriced = buy, overpriced = sell or short).
This method of security analysis is considered to be the opposite of technical analysis.
Fundamental analysis is about using real data to evaluate a security’s value. Although most analysts use fundamental analysis to value stocks, this method of valuation can be used for just about any type of security.
For example, an investor can perform fundamental analysis on a bond’s value by looking at economic factors, such as interest rates and the overall state of the economy, and information about the bond issuer, such as potential changes in credit ratings. For assessing stocks, this method uses revenues, earnings, future growth, return on equity, profit margins and other data to determine a company’s underlying value and potential for future growth. In terms of stocks, fundamental analysis focuses on the financial statements of the company being evaluated.
One of the most famous and successful fundamental analysts is the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, who is well known for successfully employing fundamental analysis to pick securities. His abilities have turned him into a billionaire.