Should financial news and media reports affect the way you make your investment decisions?

Recently, a client said: “I just read about _________ (fill in Israeli company name) in The Jerusalem Post, and I’d like to buy 1000 shares.” I hear comments like this fairly often. Since I help people who live in Israel with their U.S.-based IRA and brokerage accounts, I am able to help them trade stocks. However, before putting in an order, I recommend that they ask a few questions before considering buying an investment.

How accurate is the news?

The media frequently misrepresents information. News reports are only as accurate as the journalist’s orientation. Therefore, it may be reasonable to assume you are not getting the complete story.

Is the information fresh?

Once “hot” news reaches the general media outlets, it probably isn’t hot any longer. It might be warm at best. Some types of news items about long-term company strategies might give you an indication of where the firm wants to focus its growth. Such reports (e.g., that the company wants to enter the self-driving automobile market) may not have an immediate impact on its stock price. However, if you believe in the future of the product/company then it may be appropriate to invest. However, if short-term news breaks, for instance, a drug company receives FDA approval, and you think the stock will shoot up in value as a result of the new information, be aware that you’re possibly already too late for the party.

Does news make you a better investor?

Studies have compared investors who have made decisions with the input of news versus those who made decisions in a news vacuum. Interestingly, those folks who weren’t distracted by the media hype outperformed their well-informed peers. I wrote about this, along with many other behavioral finance facts, in Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing. Check it out, and sign up for the free articles and podcast here.

Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.

Published November 15, 2016.

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