Portfolio Reports

Investment Portfolio Reports

Investment portfolio reports provide the data, analyses, and insights we need to make effective investing decisions.

In a perfect world, we could dump our life savings into some investments, wait 40 years, and retire as millionaires. Reality doesn’t work that way. Investment portfolios require regular adjustments and rebalancing to reach our investing goals.

To make the right decisions, we need accurate and up-to-date information. This is why portfolio reports are critical for an investor – especially if you manage your own portfolio. Before using portfolio reports to your advantage, you must know how they work.

We will get you on the right track by breaking down what a portfolio report is, some common report types you might encounter, how to interpret a report, and how this information can help you be a better investor.

What Are Investment Portfolio Reports?

Portfolio reports include facts, figures, graphs, charts, analyses, and raw data to provide insight into what’s going on inside your investments.

Portfolio reports provide critical insights, including performance, trends, comparison, balance, and narrative.

Let’s break these concepts down in more detail:

📈 Performance

An investor first wants to know how their portfolio or individual stocks perform. A broad view can give you a sense of where to focus time and effort.

Regarding investment portfolios, we should ask questions like:

  • How did we perform?
  • Or, more specifically, did we make or lose money?

Many more questions will follow, but this is always the first and most important. After this, we want context to understand what our portfolio performance means in the bigger picture.

📉 Trends

Trends allow investors to compare how current performance is doing vs. past performance. Knowing we made money is excellent, but how does it fit the overall trend?

  • Are we coming off a string of losses?
  • Are our gains progressively shrinking?
  • Are our gains accelerating?

For long-term investors, sustained trends matter more than isolated peaks (or valleys) in performance.

📊 Comparison

Comparing your portfolio and investments against other factors can give you a lot of context for your performance.

Investment portfolio performance must be compared to other metrics like the entire market, specific indices, other portfolios, or technical indicators.

If we have losses, but so did everyone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have a problem – it was a bear market. But, if we had losses when the whole market went to the moon, we might need to rethink our strategy.

⚖️ Balance

We want to look at how balanced our portfolios are performing. Did all of your investments perform similarly, or were there any that performed much better or worse?

From this, we can discover which investments need extra attention and guidance.

Sure, our performance shows gains, but were they consistent gains across the board or one stellar performer in a basket of loser stocks? Did we gain equally across all sectors, or did our tech stocks compensate for losses elsewhere?

Answering these questions can help us rebalance our portfolios to double down on winning investments, cut off losers, and optimize diversification.

📜 Narrative

A narrative offers some intangible factors that don’t fit easily into quantitative boxes. There’s no quantitative data to back this up, just a qualitative analysis based on the expert’s experience and intuition.

Some portfolio reports can provide similar insight, depending on the source.

  • Maybe you had significant gains, but you are exposed to unnecessary risk.
  • Or, perhaps your tech stocks stumbled due to political factors that are difficult to quantify.

This story helps explain why you got the results you did if it’s not clear in the numbers.

Be cautious with narratives to describe portfolio performance. While it can be helpful to provide some insight, it’s a small part of the entire picture. Always focus on unbiased quantitative data first.

Types of Reports

Now that we know what portfolio reports should generally provide, we can look at some specific report types you will likely encounter as an investor. There are a wide variety of report types available, each showing specific aspects of portfolio performance.

The common idea about statistics is that they can be manipulated, analyzed, and presented in countless different ways to provide whatever answer you want. Portfolio reports can be the same. The key is to know which reports reveal which facts and to know how to find them.

Summary Report

The summary report provides an overview of everything that changed in your portfolio during the reporting period, focusing on the big picture rather than the details. If you only have time to glance at one report, this is the one you want. This report might also be called an executive summary, a consolidated report, or an overview.

Gain/Loss Report

The gain/loss report displays how each investment in your portfolio performed during the reporting period. This core report answers the most fundamental question: did we lose or gain? The other reports add context to this information. This report might also be called a returns report.

Total Return Report

The total return report is similar to the gain/loss report but includes other transactions, such as dividend payments. This way, you can see a more accurate picture of exactly how your overall investment strategy works rather than just a snapshot of stock performance.

Invested Value Comparison Report

The invested value comparison report shows you the difference between how much you have invested and how much your portfolio is currently worth. It’s a quick visualization showing how much of your portfolio value is contributions and how much is capital gains.

Transactions Report

The transactions report summarizes all account activity during the reporting period. It’s similar to a bank ledger, showing deposits, withdrawals, dividend payments, etc. This is important for tax purposes when you need to know specific transactions’ dates and sizes.

Back-in-Time Report

The back-in-time report provides a snapshot of your portfolio during a specific day or date range in the past. This can be useful if you want to analyze different time periods to see how your portfolio performed compared to other reference points.

Allocation Report

Also called a diversification report, the allocation report shows a breakdown of your portfolio in a pie chart for visually analyzing portfolio diversity. Knowing how your investments are distributed among different types, classes, and industries helps you manage risk.

Risk & Volatility Report

The risk and volatility report is a second-layer analysis of the allocation report, providing insights into where you might have unnecessary exposure to risk and volatility. Risk is part of the game, but your risk exposure must match your long-term goals.

Market Recap Report

The market recap report is not about your portfolio specifically, instead providing a recap of what happened in the entire market during the reporting period. This helps provide context to how your portfolio performed compared to other market indicators.

Portfolio Report Breakdown

Now, let’s break down an actual portfolio report. As mentioned above, there are many kinds of reports, but we’ll just look at one to get a general idea of how these reports are read.


This is a gain/loss report generated by StockMarketEye. We’ll take a closer look at each section of the report below.

Portfolio Reports Overview

Date Range

You can generate a report for any date range you want, which is important for making precise comparisons or for measuring strategy results.

And remember, date ranges can be manipulated to tell a particular story about investment performance, so when comparing different investments, be sure the date ranges are the same.

Portfolio Reports Date Range

Portfolio Data

Next, you’ll notice the details of your portfolio holdings, specifically the stock ticker symbols and the number of shares held. This information can be updated manually or automatically.

Portfolio Data

Open Data

The next section displays information about the date the stock was acquired, at what price, and the total cost. This is the baseline investment which gains or losses are compared against.

Note that the term “open” can be used to describe both the daily opening price of a stock and the starting point when a specific stock was added to your portfolio.

Portfolio Open Data

Close Data

The next section includes information about when the stock was sold, at what price, and the gross revenue received. Stocks we still hold are labeled as “open,” so the close total indicates the value of the holding at the end of the date range.

The Close Costs column displays data about transaction costs. As these trades are fairly large, the transaction costs are basically irrelevant. But for precision – or for day traders with a high trade volume – transaction costs are an important factor in gains and losses.

Total indicates the total value of our portfolio at the end of the date range.

Portfolio Close Data

Days Held

This refers to how long the stock has been held within the date range. Under Gain Type, “Short” means the stock has been held for less than a year, and “Long” means it has been held for more than a year.

The term short is another one that has a double meaning in the market. It can also indicate a “short sell,” which means buying or selling options betting on the value of a stock going down. This is unrelated to the term as it is used in our report.

Portfolio Reports Days Held


The final column tells us what we want to know: did we gain or lose? Following almost everything market-related, green means the value went up, and red means it went down.

It’s important to describe gains and losses in both dollar amounts and percentages, as neither number tells the whole story. You need both to grasp the situation. A 1000% gain on a tiny position may mean nothing. A 10% gain on a huge position could change your life.

Note that the Total Gain is the close total minus the open total, which is your net capital gain.

Portfolio Reports Gains

How to Use Investment Portfolio Reports

So, there are many reports available, and we have an idea of how to read them. That brings us to the last question: so what? What’s the purpose of all these pretty tables and charts? How can all this data make me a better long-term investor?

Investment portfolio reports are much like the instruments of an airplane. A person can fly a plane without them, but it will likely end in disaster.

These reports provide unbiased feedback about your results and investment strategy. We can analyze our strategy, make effective adjustments, and plan for the future only with sound data. Anything less is like flying at night without instruments.

Data Versus Emotions

Only data tells the unbiased truth.

Investors often allow emotions to shape their decisions and cloud their judgment. This is a mistake. For day traders and long-term investors alike, emotions have no place in our decision-making process.

Instead, we must rely on hard facts to guide the way. Our portfolio reports are a crucial part of that process. Even if we “feel” like we are winning (or losing), we need to look at the numbers to know for sure, then make decisions accordingly.

Data Versus Story

Don’t chase a story looking for explanations.

People look for alternative explanations or a narrative that fits what they want when there is limited information.

Regarding the stock market, stories can be a mirage leading us to our doom. Whether from investment managers, mutual funds, or our own minds, stories about investment performance must be replaced with reliable data from portfolio reports.

Resist the urge to accept market narratives or “feel good” stories about your portfolio. At the same time, resist stories of doom and gloom if you fear losing your savings. Always look at your reports to dispel false narratives.

Reduce Anxiety

Knowledge reduces fear in the face of uncertainty.

We definitely shouldn’t depend on emotions for making investment decisions. We also don’t want an unnecessary emotional burden weighing us down.

No need to lay awake at night wondering if your investment strategy is working. Just generate some reports and see the facts. 

The knowledge will put you at ease, whether gaining or losing, because you can start making decisions to stay the course or improve your situation.


Learn WHY it performed a certain to understand and replicate.

It’s great to see gains, but it’s more important to understand why and how those gains occurred. It helps us understand more about the market and replicate the success.

Of course, we can’t control of the market, but the idea is the same: we want to know why our investments work the way they do.

The best way to gain this insight is by generating and studying portfolio reports, which can help us identify the patterns and cause-and-effect relationships that shape our investment results.

Succeed With Portfolio Reports

We hope you have a better idea about portfolio reports, the types available, how to read one, and how they can be useful on your investing journey.

Remember, the only guide we have is unbiased data from trusted sources. Everything else is an emotional story shaped by pessimism or wishful thinking.