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Four Points to Listen for on Conference Calls

Want to hear the real scoop about your company?

Sure you do. We all do. When we value-oriented Millionaire Zone investors buy stocks, it's as if we are buying the whole company. So management reports to us.

Management tells us -- or should tell us -- what's going on. And we as owners should understand it.

So, as shareholders, do managers in fact really talk to us? Generally speaking, no. Sure, there are press releases and annual reports. But these are documents, and they're assembled by communications specialists, not the managers. So you may have to confront a lot of spin to get the real scoop, if you can get it at all.

But one tool comes closer to putting company management directly in front of you: the conference call. And I don't believe investors use conference calls as much as they should.

Conference calls used to be called analyst calls. Why? Because they were held for the benefit of securities analysts and were attended by few others. But just as the Internet has democratized most of investing, it has made conference calls, or CCs, widely available. Today's full disclosure movement has also helped. The upshot is that now you can listen to almost any CC anytime and anywhere you want.

So what's so great about CCs?

Management can, and usually does, enter the call with a prepared script. But analysts on the call keep them honest. Any issue requiring more attention will typically be teased out by the analysts, right there on the call. The answers to those questions can't be scripted, so you'll often learn the most during analyst questioning.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

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