Excel and Efficiency

By Carlos Portocarrero

This site has been retired :(
For fresh, practical career advice, please visit CarlosPortocarrero.com.

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When I was reading every investment book I could get my hands on, I spent a fair amount of time on a website devoted to Phil Town’s investing book, Rule #1. In it, he had a series of calculations that, when met, told him a stock was a buy.

It was a play on value investing and the way Warren Buffett picks stocks, but grabbing all the data from the different financial sites and doing the math was time consuming. And of course very few companies met all the criteria so it was a lot of work with very little payoff.

Anyway, someone on this forum decided to create a spreadsheet that did all the work. And I mean ALL the work.

All you had to do was make sure you had an Internet connection, type in a symbol, and hit enter.

A wonderful thing started to happen: numbers started flowing into all of the various tabs along the bottom. Charts started to form. Cells began to change color. Disease and famine were obliterated.

And on the last tab there was a number that told you what this stock’s true price was (according to his system), and whether or not it was a buy.

It literally took me an hour to do this for each company, and Excel had done it in a few seconds.

Of course, someone with a lot of knowledge and skill had set this spreadsheet up, but I was amazed at how many hours of time this document could save me.

And this was Excel! A piece of software I dreaded using because I thought all it could do was create boring charts that boring people used in their boring presentations.

I had underestimated this piece of software and I started to see why it was so expensive.

My latest run-in with Excel at work showed me how valuable this program can be…all you need is a little bit of knowledge, some patience, and it can take you pretty far.

Microsoft Excel: I salute you.

5 Responses to “Excel and Efficiency”

  • Jason Says:

    Don’t write about how great something is, but not share. Where can we find this magical Excel spreadsheet that was created?

  • Carlos Says:

    Sorry Jason but the site has been dead for a long time now. I first noticed when my fancy spreadsheet no longer worked. Websites changed their layouts or how data came through and no one was updating the Excel.

    It was something else though!

  • Rob Says:

    I wrote a Java program that sort of does the same basic thing. It doesn’t do tables and graphs and whatnot. It just scrapes Google Finance for the financial data of a company and then calculates intrinsic value based on the last 3-5 years of return (Financials usually just go three years back on the statements.) It serves my purposes for now, but it’s buggy and hacked together in places. Time permitting, I may work on another version. But that’s not likely to happen for some time.

    Anyway, if you’re interested, email me at admin@regularfolksfinance.com and I’ll email you a copy. Just don’t sue me if you lose money on it.

    Carlos: Don’t worry, I’m not selling it and it’s not my intention to spam. It’s just a side project I worked on in my spare time and it’s topical, so I thought I’d share.

  • Sim Con Says:

    There’s an Excel spreadsheet to download historical stock prices from Yahoo at http://optimizeyourportfolio.blogspot.com/2011/05/importing-historical-stock-prices-from.html.

    I’ve used variations of this spreadsheet to calculate Sharpe Ratios, mean-variance optimized portfolios, and much more. Is there any functionality that you want implemented? Any specific financial analysis? I want to give my VBA skills a workout!

  • Russ Says:


    If you still have that excel spreadsheet, I’d love to get a copy of it even if it doesn’t work b/c the financial websites changed their layout etc. fleidermous@email.com
    Thanks in advance!

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