Wikinvest

Archived Information for Spring 2011 Class

Deadlines: 
  • Start early. Writing a Wikinvest article, and writing it well, is harder than you thought.
  • The deadlines serve as cut-off points. 
    • Revisions you make after the cut-off points will not be considered for grading purpose.
    • However, many students continued to maintain and improve their wiki articles even after the deadlines
      • Because a wiki article demonstrate one's overall finance skill set to potential employers.
  • Each student will participate in three Wikinvest articles.
    • Each team must complete two Wikinvest articles.
    • Deadlines:
      • Entry #1: 03/04/2011 (i.e. before the Spring Break)
      • Entry #2: 04/27/2011 (i.e. last class)
    • Each student must complete one article of his/her own, in addition to the two team articles.
      • Deadline: 04/29/2011 (i.e. the Friday after last class)
How can I find a stock that hasn't been spoken for?
  • Wikinvest has a "Wanted Companies" list for stocks that haven't been covered.
    • You are more likely to find an open spot among the small-cap stocks in the Russell 2000 index
    • The list is not exhaustive, and may not be up to date.
  • Double check availability by typing the stock's ticker or name into Wikinvest's search box
Some advice: 
  • Read my Powerpoint slides on how to write a good Wikinvest article and where to gather information.
  • The structure/outline is just a suggestive example. 
    • Your ultimate goal is not just completing a school assignment.
    • But creating an article that can inform potential investors about a company. 
    • Do whatever you believe necessary to achieve that goal. Think from a reader's perspective.
  • Every section in your article is not equally important.  
    • For example, by definition the business overview section tends to be shorter than other sections, as "overview" literally means summary. 
    • On the other hand,  the ostensibly simple term "SWOT"  is broadly inclusive and can turn out to be a long and hard journey.
  • The relative importance of each section varies from company to company.  
    • Make your own judgment and write more on what you believe is more important for the company you cover. 
      • What I know for sure is that every section in your entry will not turn out to be of equal length
    • In some industries, competitive advantages (e.g. barriers to entry, economies of scale) are deciding factors.
      • There, companies focus on formulating strategies to manage and reinforce their advantages.
    • In other industries, the playing field is relatively level, and companies concentrate their efforts on becoming more efficient than competitors.
      • For some companies, differentiation and marketing activities are the key to success; 
      • For others, more efficient supply chain management and cost control may be their winning tactics
    • Human resources: the successes of some companies may depend on a small group of key personnel
      • Some companies are dominated by a controlling founder or a charismatic leader (e.g. Steve Jobs at Apple Inc., Michael Dell at Dell Inc.)
        • There, analyzing its leader is as important as a company's operations.
        • In some other companies, even an idiot can run them and the leaders are irrelevant.
      • Some companies rely heavily on a famous designer (Tom Ford at Gucci), a sales person with extensive business contacts, a spokesperson (Tiger Woods for Nike Golf), or a star (LaBron James at Cleveland Cav). 
        • Even the loyalest talents can be hired away by competitors, if the price is high enough.
  • Length does not equal quality. 
    • A well organized and informative piece is better than a 100-page data dump.
  • Grading is relative (to other teams).  
    • How much effort your team decides to put into the assignment really depends on your goal and expectation. 
  • You can always monitor the other teams' progresses at http://www.fi414.com/choosing-stocks

Where to find information:
  • Company "Investors Relations" web sites
    • Every publicly-listed company's web site has a dedicated "Investor Relations" section
    • It is a treasury of relevant information and your recommended starting point
  • Company annual reports and quarterly reports
    • Annual reports are called 10-K
    • Quarterly reports are called 10-Q
    • They can be obtained for free at company websites or SEC data site EDGAR
  • Transcripts, presentation slides and webcast of conference calls and analysts meetings
    • Usually available in "Investor Relations" section
    • Management may give some "color" on the abstract numbers to help you understand their business operations.
  • Major newspaper (use Google News)
  • Google Search. Internet search is powerful. Use it
  • Check the Resources section of this site for useful financial information resources on the Internet.

How good is good enough?
  • Unlike school exams in which a perfect score can be obtained once you give a correct answer, a Wikinvest artucke can always be improved.
  • I am not going to impose a word limit or page limit on your Wikinvest articles.
  • In fact, I intentionally encourage an "arm race"
    • Grading is based on your relative performance vs. other teams.
    • You get a higher score by doing better than your classmates and other teams.
    • Other teams can view your progress in real time and catch up if they wish.
  • Quantity does not equal quality. 
    • A well-organized, concise piece is certainly better than a 100-page information-dump.
  • Do whatever you it takes to make your article the best on Wikinvest.
    • Most Wikinvest articles are written by volunteers, usually amateurs, during their free time.
    • I don't consider you as volunteers.
    • You are professionals and you have four months to work on your assignments.
    • Your work must be significantly deeper and rigorous in analysis and better in quality.
  • Wikinvest is a collaborative editing platform.
    • Allowing teammates to work together simultaneously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Wikinvest iPhone and Android apps allow you to track your team and other teams' progress in real time, any time.
  • The MSU Writing Center provides one to one consulting to review and improve your writing skills.
    • The service is free.
    • They also specialize on digital media writing.
    • You should make the best use out of this free service.
Requirements:
  • Unlike in the Stock Pitch Competition, you are allowed to cover financial, commodity, or utility stocks.
  • Your entries must be new.
    • That is, an entry's "Summary" section must be empty before you take over.
      • Wikinvest has automatically pre-filled the Data and News sections.
      • You will work on the Summary section only.
    • It's fine if the article is almost empty
      • Some Wikinvest articles have less than 10 lines of text in the "Summary" section.
        • Maybe someone started but then abandoned them.
      • They are considered new for this assignment's purpose.
  • In order to prove that you are the actual authors of a Wikinvest entry:
    • In your Wikinvest user profile, please provide enough info for me to identify you as one of my students
      • e.g. write "FI 414" in the profile page.
    • You don't necessarily need to use your real names.
      • However, if you're an excellent finance writer, why don't you want your potential employers to know about your talents?
      • A popular Wikinvest entry attracts hundreds of views a week.
        • And a typical reader is an investment professional.
        • Some of them may be potential employers.
  • Follow the Writing Guidelines of Wikinvest.
    • I won't teach you how to edit in Wikinvest. Read the Help section of the site. Most students become proficient in it within 10 minutes.
  • Plagiarism is easily spotted in collaborated editing platforms such as Wikinvest.