How to track investments

Find out how to properly monitor share performance to track your investments and make better decisions with your portfolio.

How to monitor share performance Step-by-step instructions
Commonly asked questions See FAQs

Buying stocks and shares is one of the most significant parts of being an investor, but what do you do once you’ve bought those investments? Learning how to monitor share performance will allow you to make sure your portfolio is heading in the right direction, and guide your decision-making when it comes to managing your wealth.

What is share performance?

This refers to the positive and negative movements of a share. As an investor, you have many different tools and metrics you can use to judge how a share is performing.

How can I see how a share is performing?

The basic performance metric used will involve looking at the share price. What is the share price today compared to what it was in the past?

Stocks and shares can be volatile in the short term, so it’s best to measure the price performance of a share over at least a 12-month or year-to-date (YTD) period. It’s important to look at a range because sometimes there can be price abnormalities giving you skewed figures.

However, the share price alone doesn’t tell you the full story. There are other areas worth reviewing to give you a better understanding of share performance, including:

  • Average annual return over various time periods
  • Comparing the return to industry benchmarks or indices
  • Looking at how the shares are performing compared to competition in the same industry
  • Using financial and valuation metrics like the P/E ratio, P/B ratio, earnings per share (EPS), and sometimes the dividend yield

How do I know if a share is performing well?

This will partly depend upon the goals of the underlying company. For example, if it’s growth-focused shares, is the business actually growing and outpacing the average growth of the market? Or, if it’s a dividend stock, has it managed to consistently maintain or increase dividend payouts since you’ve been monitoring the shares?

How do I know if a share is performing poorly?

Again, this comes down to whether the shares or the company are meeting their goals and objectives. If the company forecasts certain expectations and then fails to meet them, it could be argued that the shares are performing poorly.

This is why you’ll often notice big drops in a share price when a firm fails to meet targets around revenue, production, profits and customer growth. It will depend on the type of business, but if a stock fails to hit its own expectations, or those set by respected analysts, it’s not good news.

This doesn’t mean the company is a complete failure, it’s perfectly reasonable to have missteps from time to time. But, if you’re monitoring a business and it’s consistently missing the mark or issuing profit warnings, this will be reflected in the share price and the rest of its financials.

How to track investments performance

The exact process for monitoring the performance of shares will depend on the type of stock you’re looking at. But, to give you an idea of some universal steps to follow, here’s a straightforward step-by-step guide:

  1. Review past performance. Past performance doesn’t dictate future results, but even when history doesn’t repeat, it tends to rhyme. Take a look at where the shares were previously and where they are today. Is it heading along a positive trajectory or a negative decline?
  2. Compare against benchmarks. See how the shares are doing compared to the rest of the stock market. An easy way to do this is to find out which index a firm is a part of and then compare the share performance to that of the entire index. Are the shares doing better or worse than the averages from the whole index?
  3. Contrast with competitors. It may be the case that a whole industry is performing poorly. If so, are the shares worse off than rivals’ shares? Similarly, if a sector is doing well, are the shares doing better than competitors’ or lagging behind?
  4. Look at the financials. Learning how to dig into financial statements and balance sheets can be your secret weapon as an investor. If you can read an annual report or pick apart an income statement, this will make your life so much easier when it comes to monitoring share performance.
  5. Find out what the experts think. Ideally, it’s best to monitor things yourself and draw your own conclusions about share performance. But, it always helps to check out what the experts are saying. There are plenty of free resources online that will give you great insights, but remember that these experts don’t know everything. So, take their views on board, but use their insights to add to your own performance summary of a stock.

Where can I see how a share is performing?

It will depend on the metric you’re using to monitor performance. Most of the top investing platforms should give you plenty of data to work with. This allows you to see how shares are performing.

But, it may be the case that you need to use multiple resources to get a complete picture. Ideally, it’s useful to have everything in one spot to save you time and energy. So, if there are particular traits that you want to prioritise when it comes to monitoring share performance, use an investment account that shows you the relevant information you need.

If the information isn’t available on your platform, there are plenty of trackers and management apps that let you log all your portfolio details to see how your shares are performing.

Should I check performance daily?

Unless you’re a day-trader, there’s not much need to monitor share performance each day. Most of the useful information relating to a share’s performance will be properly updated at larger intervals. Looking at things day-to-day might give you a poor reflection of what’s actually happening.

Checking daily performance could also lead you to make mistakes or rash decisions. A big part of becoming a successful investor comes down to patience. You’ll only make your life more difficult and stressful if you try to micromanage your investment portfolio, watching everything like a hawk.

When should I monitor a share’s performance?

Ideally, it’s worth reviewing things on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. It will depend on your specific investment strategy and what stocks and assets make up your portfolio.

Larger time intervals will make sure that you have enough material to work with. To properly monitor performance, you should look at data and news relating to your investments, the rest of the stock market and the wider economy.

Is there an app for monitoring shares?

Most investment platforms allow you to monitor and track your portfolio. But, there are also some specific apps designed for monitoring shares and stock market performance. A few examples are:

Should I get a portfolio tracker?

If your investment platform doesn’t provide you with all the information you need to monitor the performance of your stocks and shares, then a portfolio tracker app can be useful.

However, if you have to input everything manually, it can end up being extra effort that you don’t have time for. If tracking performance is important to you, it might be worth finding a share dealing account that lets you manage and track your portfolio all in one place.

Is it free to monitor shares?

There are free resources you can use. But, some apps and websites will request a fee to access services and tools. So, consider using the free resources at your disposal but then upgrading to a paid service if you find that you need more detailed and in-depth information.

Bottom line

Monitoring share performance isn’t an exact science. The metrics you choose to keep track of will depend on the type of investments you own and the indicators that are important to you.

There are plenty of free resources out there that allow you to monitor stocks. But if you want to dig a little deeper, it might be worth considering a paid service to keep track of the performance of your shares.

Frequently asked questions

George Sweeney, DipFA's headshot
Deputy editor

George is a deputy editor at Finder. He has previously written for The Motley Fool UK, Nasdaq, Freetrade, Investing in the Web, MoneyMagpie, Online Mortgage Advisor, Wealth, and Compare Forex Brokers. He's focused on making personal finance and investing engaging for everyone. To do this he draws from previous work and his Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA), sharing what he’s learnt. When he’s not geeking out about money, you’ll find him playing sports and staying active. See full bio

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George has written 140 Finder guides across topics including:
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