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Beginners' Portfolio: A Look at the News

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LONDON -- This article is the latest in a series that aims to help novice investors with the stock market. To enjoy past articles in the series, please visit our full archive.

It's important to keep a track of the news concerning our shares, but we also need a word of caution. It is very easy for beginners to be so enthusiastic that they're checking every day for the smallest scrap of information. In reality, most news about a company doesn't make much difference from an investment point of view, and what counts is to identify the important news and work out what to do with it.

The parade's off
There's certainly been some big news this week concerning our latest portfolio additon, BAE Systems (LSE: BA.L  ) , as we heard that the proposed merger with EADS is off. It's all due to political problems, competition issues, government ownership in EADS, etc. We all expected there to be a few regulatory and political hurdles, but few thought it would be all over quite so quickly.

What difference does the news make for our portfolio? In short, none. I'd already pretty much decided to go for BAE before the merger proposal, and went ahead anyway -- partly because I thought it didn't make any difference to the value of the company, and partly because it would be educational if it went ahead.

Some shareholders would have sold on the news, and some investors would have bought -- and some of those would have sold again after the merger was canned. But just as I didn't think the merger announcement affected the value of the company, so I don't think the cancellation does either. We still have a good company in a depressed sector, looking like a bargain.

And that brings me to the really important question we need to ask each time: "Does this news materially change the company or its valuation in any way?" Unless you think it does, there's no need to spend much time worrying over news.

Supermarket update
In other news, last week saw the release of interim figures from Tesco (LSE: TSCO.L  ) , and fellow Fools Stuart Watson and Nate Weisshaar had a video chat about them. So do have a look -- it's only about four minutes long. There's a mention of Sainsbury's, too, which might interest some of you.

Essentially, to me it looks like "steady as we go," though the markets were a little disappointed and the recent share price recovery has fallen back. But we're here for the long term, the shares are still on a low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, and there's still a decent dividend expected -- the interim dividend was held.

New discussion forum
That's really about it for company news, but we do have one piece of news regarding this Beginners' series. It's difficult to track article comments from article to article, which makes longer-term conversations tricky. So we've opened a dedicated discussion board for discussing anything related to the portfolio, other educational articles in the series, and, well, anything that spins off from them.

So please head on over, and feel free to ask any questions or air any opinions -- are you happy or disappointed by the failure of the BAE/EADS merger? Do tell.

Finally, I reckon the core of any new investor's portfolio should be based on strong dividend-paying shares, and Neil Woodford is an acknowledged expert on the strategy. I heartily recommend the free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held by Britain's Super Investor" for followers of our Beginners' Portfolio. Click here to get your free copy, while it's still available.

Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps to Making a Million in the Market" is the very latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- it's free.

More for beginners:

Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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