A:

These terms refer to two different stock-picking methodologies used for researching and forecasting the future growth trends of stocks. Like any investment strategy or philosophy, both have their advocates and adversaries. Here are the defining principles of each of these methods of stock analysis:

  • Fundamental analysis is a method of evaluating securities by attempting to measure the intrinsic value of a stock. Fundamental analysts study everything from the overall economy and industry conditions to the financial condition and management of companies.
  • Technical analysis is the evaluation of securities by means of studying statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices and volume. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security's intrinsic value but instead use stock charts to identify patterns and trends that may suggest what a stock will do in the future.

[If you are interested in learning how to use tehcnical analysis to create your own actionable trading plans, Investopedia Academy's Technical Analysis Course gives you hours of on demand video training to learn these tools, including chart analysis and technical indicators.]

In the world of stock analysis, fundamental and technical analysis are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. Earnings, expenses, assets and liabilities are all important characteristics to fundamental analysts, whereas technical analysts could not care less about these numbers. Which strategy works best is always debated, and many volumes of textbooks have been written on both of these methods. So, do some reading and decide for yourself which strategy works best with your investment philosophy.

(For additional reading, see Introduction To Fundamental Analysis and Introduction To Technical Analysis.)

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