When you first start investing it can seem like there is an overwhelming amount of data out there for you to sift through. However, we can distill the basics of investing into a few key points. Let's look at some of the ones that influence my choices.
1. What is the expense ratio? Vanguard and Schwab are known for having very cheap, but very broad ETF's. You can also go with Investico or Global X if you want more targeted - thematic ETF's, but that customization will come with a higher expense ratio. So you have to weigh what means more to you.
2. How much does the ETF cost? Not in terms of it's purchase price for share, but how expensive is it? I would avoid buying ETF's that are at all time highs or within a close range of all time highs.
3. Dividends. In a taxable account you may want to minimize your dividend's since they will be taxed. Instead you might opt for a growth ETF that will earn value in capital appreciation (price appreciation) instead of realized dividends.
1. Do people need it? This really came to light for young investors who bought into Snapchat (lol). People do not "need" Snapchat so it has little value. However people do need basic materials, utilities and the like, because services are built on industry.
For example, I wouldn't buy American Airlines or Delta Airlines stock, instead I would buy Boeing and Airbus, because they are the manufactures. People are not going to stop flying, but the companies flying people can change over time (Pan American anyone).
2. Now you have found the sector you want to buy in. Time to do some research. What company leads in that field? Do they have a strong track record of stock price increase? If they have a dividend do they increase it? Have they haver cut their dividend? Check their P/E ratio against the average for their industry, if its the same or lower, thats a good sign.
3. Don't buy at the top! I don't buy any stocks when they are trading above their 52 week average, and I avoid buying them if they are at or near all time highs.
4. Now you have found the sector / industries you want to invest in and have narrowed your list down to a few companies. You can add them to your watch list and wait for them to dip below 52 week average, or buy any that are currently trading for a discount.
These are just my strategies, but I think they provide a good overview for investors.
>> A lot of this research can be done using Google. Doing searches such as " K stock" and getting back the chart of Kellogg stock, you can then analyze it's all time high, and where it is in the last 5 years etc. You also get it's P/E ratio and dividend yield. Then you could do something like go to Morning Star and look up Kellogg then click the page for "industry peers" and compare it to other companies. Remember, Google and time are your friends use them to make your decisions!
-Good luck and Happy Investing!