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Examples & Comprehensive Writing Guide (Update 2021)

A stock pitch is where you present an investment idea through reason and logic, and it is a requirement for all buy-side job interviews. Every great stock pitch needs data, valuation metrics, risk assessment and an investment thesis. Investment thesis is one of the most important parts of a stock pitch. So, what is it, and how can you write it perfectly?

1. What is an Investment Thesis?

Investment thesis is an important part of a stock pitch . It is a reasoned argument for an investment strategy, backed by research and analysis, and is used in all investment banking front office roles, along with private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital. The ultimate goal of an investment thesis is to present why an investment is worth its costs.

investment banking thesis

The structure of a stock pitch

1.1. Investment thesis is an integral part in buy-side interview

In buy-side interviews like private equity , hedge fund and venture capital , stock pitch is always a must, because that is what you’ll do on the job, and also the best way to set yourself apart. A great stock pitch will make you memorable in the eyes of the interviewers and investors. Therefore, knowing how to write a great investment thesis is no less important if you want to break into those industries. 

1.2. Investment thesis questions rarely come up in investment banking interview

In investment banking , you won’t get “ pitch me a stock ” questions unless you interview for sales & trading division , or you mentioned that you have dealt with market transactions on your resume . Nevertheless, stock pitching in investment banking interviews is not a priority. You should only spend 30 minutes preparing for stock pitch questions. Focus more on concepts like DCF , free cash flow , WACC .

2. What Does an Investment Thesis Include?

A good investment thesis constitutes three parts: (1) an observation of macroeconomic & industry trends and your company’s positions within these trends , (2) a review of your company’s ability to support growth , (3) a summary where you give your conviction on the company .

In short, an investment thesis includes what you know and expect from the company, the factors supporting its potential growth, and why you are investing in it. 

2.1. An observation of macroeconomic & industry trends and your company’s positions in these trends 

In this part, you’ll research the current situation of the economy, the industry and how the macroeconomic factors will affect the potential of the chosen company. You’ll also look into where your company is located within those factors to give a convincing idea why the company is poised for growth.

The best way to do this part is to ask yourself questions. Here is how the process can be broken down


  • Are the economy and the industry showing potential? 
  • Is the business cyclically strong in this particular time?
  • Are fiscal/monetary policies supporting growth?
  • What are the risks associated with the industry?

After that, focus on how your company is performing amid those external factors.   

  • Is it the fastest growing business in an equally-rapid growing industry, or is it a good house in a bad neighborhood, thriving against bleak macroeconomic outlooks? 
  • Is it market share rising or falling? How is it compared to its competitors?.

investment banking thesis

Here is an example of the macroeconomic and industry observation for Lazard.

Lazard is an investment bank, so first, give insights into the investment banking industry over the past few years. Research shows that bulge bracket banks are slowly losing their power because of the financial crisis, while independent advisory firms are becoming more competitive:

investment banking thesis

Figure 1: Investment banking industry overview 

Then, find Lazard’s positions within these trends. As an independent advisor, what advantages does the company have over its bulge bracket counterparts? Where does it rank among other banks? Is there any room for potential growth?

investment banking thesis

Figure 2: Bulge brackets vs elite boutiques

investment banking thesis

Figure 3: Lazard’s ranking vs other investment banks

2.2. A review of the company’s characteristics that support growth

Cold email for internship

  • Does the company have stable management?
  • Are the financial statements clean?
  • Which aspect of the company is offering excellent growth?
  • How do metrics like profit, ROE, ROA, EPS change over the year/quarter? 
  • Do current company policies aim to maximize profit, or try to please investors and reach for stock gains?

For Lazard, the pitch focuses on its strength in asset management :

investment banking thesis

Figure 4: Lazard’s assets under management

investment banking thesis

Figure 5: Lazard’s organic flow growth vs its peers

investment banking thesis

Figure 6: Lazard’s AUM mix

A comparison with peer companies also adds more conviction to your analysis:

investment banking thesis

Figure 7: Lazard vs other elite boutiques

Finally, the pitch dives deep into the company’s policies and strategic planning:

investment banking thesis

Figure 8-14: Lazard’s strategic planning and policy

2.3. A summary of the reasons why the company is worth its price

This wraps up the macroeconomic and industry outlook, the company’s positions within those external factors, its own internal factors and risk/reward profile and presents why the company is worth the investment. The summary determines whether the pitch sells or not, so the more confident you are with your thesis, the better it will be.

For Lazard, after industry, company and policy analysis, the thesis concludes that the company is positioned for strong EPS growth:

investment banking thesis

Figure 15: Lazard’s verdict

investment banking thesis

Figure 16: Lazard’s EPS assumptions

3. How to Write an Investment Thesis

Writing a perfect investment thesis requires understanding of both the investors and the company . Research who you are pitching it for to find their preference, investment philosophy and strategies.  

3.1. Understand fund’s strategies


  • If you are pitching for a fixed-income fund , present them a bond that offers high yield at low risk
  • For a short-seller , the best pitch is an overvalued company waiting to be sold short
  • For growth equity , your best bet is a company in rapid expansion  
  • For a venture capital, bring them a start-up that promises reliable transition from cash-burning phase to stable cash flow

To research company’s information, you can visit the fund’s website or other blogs that follow hedge fund’s 13Fs closely like InsiderMonkey, ValueWalk . SEC filings can also be used to search for funds with over $100 million in assets under management.

3.2. Choose an idea with careful research

To do this, select an industry you are comfortable with, then find a promising company within that industry. The process can be time-consuming, picking one promising stock from hundreds of possible, but when you find that one company you are looking for, it will be worth all the effort. And remember, there is no right or wrong choice for a stock pitch. What matters are your analysis and conviction .

investment banking thesis

When researching companies, focus on the three main drivers of a stock: business quality, catalysts and valuation.

  • A company with good business quality possesses stable earning growth compared to its competitors. It could be high return on capital, high margins or strong management. If you are pitching for a start-up, it must show a reliable path from cash-burning stage to positive cash flow.
  • Catalysts are events that affect the price of a stock. They can be internal events like earnings announcements, product launch, acquisition and insider transactions. For example, if Apple plans to release a new iPhone, Apple’s share may rise as investors believe new products will generate higher income. Catalysts can also be external like monetary policies or global events. External catalysts tend to affect the entire market. They can either help the market reach new highs, or cause panic selling, like the 2013 “taper tantrum”.
  • Valuation is important since investors want to buy stocks selling at a discount compared to others. Two commonly used valuation methods are relative valuation and absolute valuation . Relative valuation compares a company with other public companies through multiples like P/E and EV/EBITDA . It is important to find the right comparable companies with similar industry, size, growth rate, margin and revenue. Absolute valuation helps to determine the intrinsic value of the company based on its future cash flow using the discounted cash flow analysis . Firms prefer companies with lower intrinsic value compared to market value.

3.3. A step by step guide to writing an investment thesis

To write a stock pitch, follow three steps: (1) conduct initial research on the industry and select one special company within that industry, (2) analyze the company’s internal factors to show its potential growth, (3) summarize the research and give investment recommendations. These steps align with the structure of the investment thesis. 

Step 1: Conduct initial research


After that, conduct market research to get industry data and identify trends. Look at market reports, industry insights and information to see what’s going on in the industry.

Next, screen out one exceptional company from that industry. You should find one that possesses stable management, high growth and undervalued compared to other companies. Also, try to find one that is less known because funds and interviewers always appreciate unique ideas.

Step 2: Analyze the company’s growth factor


Key points to look at include policies (is the management board’s direction good for its future?), metrics (are profit, EBIT, ROE , ROA , EPS on track for growth), and operation (how diversified is the company in its operation? Which aspect is showing potential?). Then present your analysis and projections with your research. Focus on the drivers mentioned above.

You can make comparisons with the industry and other companies to make your analysis more convincing. Bring the advantages your company has over its peers, and show why it is the most promising in the market.

Step 3: Summarize your research and give your conviction

Hedge Fund

Link your analysis to make your thesis more convincing. For example, when pitching for Harley-Davidson, a motorcycle company, after analysing how Harley-Davidson’s sales will keep falling due to the high price tag while not being able to attract new buyers, despite an ever growing motorcycle market, you can confidently recommend for a short.

That’s just a simple case, but you get the idea. By connecting the dots and presenting your argument with confidence, you can sell any pitch to anyone .

4. Investment Thesis Example

investment banking thesis

Figure 17-18: Starbucks’ investment thesis

investment banking thesis

Figure 19: Sony’s investment thesis

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What Is an Investment Thesis?

  • Understanding the Thesis

Special Considerations

  • What's Included?

The Bottom Line

  • Portfolio Management

Investment Thesis: An Argument in Support of Investing Decisions

investment banking thesis

Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University.

investment banking thesis

The term investment thesis refers to a reasoned argument for a particular investment strategy, backed up by research and analysis. Investment theses are commonly prepared by (and for) individual investors and businesses. These formal written documents may be prepared by analysts or other financial professionals for presentation to their clients.

Key Takeaways

  • An investment thesis is a written document that recommends a new investment, based on research and analysis of its potential for profit.
  • Individual investors can use this technique to investigate and select investments that meet their goals.
  • Financial professionals use the investment thesis to pitch their ideas.

Understanding the Investment Thesis

As noted above, an investment thesis is a written document that provides information about a potential investment. It is a research- and analysis-based proposal that is usually drafted by an investment or financial professional to provide insight into investments and to pitch investment ideas. In some cases, the investor will draft their own investment thesis, as is the case with venture capitalists and private equity firms.

This thesis can be used as a strategic decision-making tool. Investors and companies can use a thesis to decide whether or not to pursue a particular investment, such as a stock or acquiring another company. Or it can be used as a way to look back and analyze why a particular decision was made in the first place—and whether it was the right one. Putting things in writing can have a huge impact on the direction of a potential investment.

Let's say an investor purchases a stock based on the investment thesis that the stock is undervalued . The thesis states that the investor plans to hold the stock for three years, during which its price will rise to reflect its true worth. At that point, the stock will be sold at a profit. A year later, the stock market crashes, and the investor's pick crashes with it. The investor recalls the investment thesis, relies on the integrity of its conclusions, and continues to hold the stock.

That is a sound strategy unless some event that is totally unexpected and entirely absent from the investment thesis occurs. Examples of these might include the 2007-2008 financial crisis or the Brexit vote that forced the United Kingdom out of the European Union (EU) in 2016. These were highly unexpected events, and they might affect someone's investment thesis.

If you think your investment thesis holds up, stick with it through thick and thin.

An investment thesis is generally formally documented, but there are no universal standards for the contents. Some require fast action and are not elaborate compositions. When a thesis concerns a big trend, such as a global macro perspective, the investment thesis may be well documented and might even include a fair amount of promotional materials for presentation to potential investing partners.

Portfolio management is now a science-based discipline, not unlike engineering or medicine. As in those fields, breakthroughs in basic theory, technology, and market structures continuously translate into improvements in products and in professional practices. The investment thesis has been strengthened with qualitative and quantitative methods that are now widely accepted.

As with any thesis, an idea may surface but it is methodical research that takes it from an abstract concept to a recommendation for action. In the world of investments, the thesis serves as a game plan.

What's Included in an Investment Thesis?

Although there's no industry standard, there are usually some common components to this document. Remember, an investment thesis is generally a proposal that is based on research and analysis. As such, it is meant to be a guide about the viability of a particular investment.

Most investment theses include (but aren't limited to) the following information:

  • The investment in question
  • The investment goal(s)
  • Viability of the investment, including any trends that support the investment
  • Potential downsides and risks that may be associated with the investment
  • Costs and potential returns as well as any losses that may result

Some theses also try to answer some key questions, including:

  • Does the investment align with the intended goal(s)?
  • What could go wrong?
  • What do the financial statements say?
  • What is the growth potential of this investment?

Putting everything in writing can help investors make more informed decisions. For instance, a company's management team can use a thesis to decide whether or not to pursue the acquisition of a rival. The thesis may highlight whether the target's vision aligns with the acquirer or it may identify opportunities for growth in the market.

Keep in mind that the complexity of an investment thesis depends on the type of investor involved and the nature of the investment. So the investment thesis for a corporation looking to acquire a rival may be more in-depth and complicated compared to that of an individual investor who wants to develop an investment portfolio.

Examples of an Investment Thesis

Portfolio managers and investment companies often post information about their investment theses on their websites. The following are just two examples.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley ( MS ) is one of the world's leading financial services firms. It offers investment management services, investment banking, securities, and wealth management services. According to the company, it has five steps that make up its investment process, including idea generation, quality assessment, valuation, risk management , and portfolio construction.

When it comes to developing its investment thesis, the company tries to answer three questions as part of its quality assessment step:

  • "Is the company a disruptor or is it insulated from disruptive change? 
  • Does the company demonstrate financial strength with high returns on invested capital, high margins, strong cash conversion, low capital intensity and low leverage? 
  • Are there environmental or social externalities not borne by the company, or governance and accounting risks that may alter the investment thesis?"

Connetic Ventures

Connetic Adventures is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies. The company uses data to develop its investment thesis, which is made up of three pillars. According to its blog, there were three pillars or principles that contributed to Connetic's venture capital investment strategy. These included diversification, value, and follow-on—each of which comes with a pro and con.

Why Is an Investment Thesis Important?

An investment thesis is a written proposal or research-based analysis of why investors or companies should pursue an investment. In some cases, it may also serve as a historical guide as to whether the investment was a good move or not. Whatever the reason, an investment thesis allows investors to make better, more informed decisions about whether to put their money into a specific investment. This written document provides insight into what the investment is, the goals of the investment, any associated costs, the potential for returns, as well as any possible risks and losses that may result.

Who Should Have an Investment Thesis?

An investment thesis is important for anyone who wants to invest their money. Individual investors can use a thesis to decide whether to purchase stock in a particular company and what strategy they should use, whether it's a buy-and-hold strategy or one where they only have the stock for a short period of time. A company can craft its own investment thesis to help weigh out whether an acquisition or growth strategy is worthwhile.

How Do You Create an Investment Thesis?

It's important to put your investment thesis in writing. Seeing your proposal in print can help you make a better decision. When you're writing your investment thesis, be sure to be clear and concise. Make sure you do your research and include any facts and figures that can help you make your decision. Be sure to include your goals, the potential for upside, and any risks that you may come across. Try to ask and answer some key questions, including whether the investment meets your investment goals and what could go wrong if you go ahead with the deal.

It's always important to have a plan, especially when it comes to investing. After all, you are putting your money at risk. Having an investment thesis can help you make more informed decisions about whether a potential investment is worth your while. Make sure you put your thesis in writing and answer some key questions about your goals, costs, and potential outcomes. Having a concrete proposal in place can spell the difference between earning returns and losing all your money. And that's if your thesis supports the investment in the first place.

Harvard Business School. " Writing a Credible Investment Thesis ."

Lanturn. " What is an Investment Thesis and 3 Tips to Make One ."

Morgan Stanley. " Global Opportunity ."

Medium. " The Data That Built Our Fund's Investment Thesis ."

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Abrahamson, Mark. "Conflicts of Interest in Investment Banking." Thesis, University of Oxford, 2010.

Huang, Zhangkai. "Finance, investment and monetary policy." Thesis, University of Oxford, 2002.

Gehle, Nadja. "Variable Vergütungssysteme im Investment Banking in Deutschland." Hamburg Diplomica Verlag, 2008.,ADIP&DOKV%5FNO=9783836607520139&DOKV%5FHS=0&PP=1.

Huang, Xian Qi. "The development of investment banking in China." Thesis, University of Macau, 1999.

Gehle, Nadja. "Variable Vergütungssysteme im Investment-Banking in Deutschland." Hamburg Diplomica-Verl, 2007.

Taniai, Tatsuya 1966. "IT investment allocation in Japanese banking industry." Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003.

Tipping, Malvern. "British banking-halls as a property investment." Thesis, Anglia Ruskin University, 2011.

Tipping, Malvern. "British banking-halls as a property investment." Thesis, Anglia Ruskin University, 2011.

Wen, Zhe. "Three essays on equity issuance and investment banking." Thesis, University of Manchester, 2015.

Suehiro, Yasutaka 1962. "Strategic challenges of the Japanese investment banking industry." Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004.

RADIC, NEMANJA. "Efficiency and competition in the investment banking industry." Doctoral thesis, Università degli Studi di Roma "Tor Vergata", 2010.

Al-Deehani, Talla Moh'd F. F. "Understanding corporate capital investment decisions in Kuwait." Thesis, University of Bath, 1990.

Memtsa, Chrysi D. "Factor models, risk management and investment decisions." Thesis, Durham University, 1999.

Okposen, Samuel. "The determinants of direct overseas investment from Singapore." Thesis, London Metropolitan University, 1993.

Chen, Jinghan. "Foreign direct investment in China : policies and performance." Thesis, Lancaster University, 1991.

Read, Tony J. "Strategic Information Technology Investment Decisions in the Banking Industry." NSUWorks, 2005.

Walton, Kenya Monica. "Strategies Investment Banking Leaders Use to Retain Frontline Employees." ScholarWorks, 2019.

Qasim, Amer. "The use of the internet as an investor relations tool : the case of Jordan." Thesis, University of Aberdeen, 2010.

Strüver, Sven-Carsten. "Standardbasiertes EAI-Vorgehen am Beispiel des Investment Bankings." Berlin Gito, 2006.

Altinkilic, Oya. "An Examination of Seasoned Equity Offer Placement Effort." Diss., Virginia Tech, 2001.

Ursacki, Terry. "Foreign direct investment in the Japanese and Korean banking sectors." Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1990.

Majury, Niall Charles. "Local knowledge, global markets and the geography of investment banking." Thesis, National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, 1999.

Trees, Hans. "The political economy of financial regulation of US investment banking." Thesis, Durham University, 2017.

Chuluun, Tugsjargal. "Essays on the role of peer networks in investment banking." Diss., Atlanta, Ga. : Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009.

Chiang, Derek Mi-Hsiu. "Contingent claims analysis to irreversible, non-tradable output investment problems under uncertainty." Thesis, Imperial College London, 1999.

Cho, Yong-Doo. "Financial factors and corporate investment : a microeconometric analysis of Korean manufacturing firms." Thesis, University of Oxford, 1994.

Chensavasdijai, Varapat. "An empirical analysis of corporate investment behaviour and financing patterns in Thailand." Thesis, University of Oxford, 1999.

Al-Saeed, Mansour. "The legal protection of private foreign investment in the state of Kuwait." Thesis, University of Aberdeen, 1998.

Abdulla, Jasim. "Dividends, external borrowings, and investment behaviour of the corporate sector in Kuwait." Thesis, University of Exeter, 1990.

Fan, Weiwei. "Household savings, relationship banking, and urbanization : three essays in economic development and finance /." View Abstract or Full-Text, 2003.

Wenzel, Jens. "Rechtsfragen internationaler Konsortialkreditverträge : deutsches und englisches Recht /." Baden-Baden : Nomos [u.a.], 2006.

Samakovitis, Georgios. "Technology investment decision making : an integrated analysis in UK Internet banking." Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2007.

Cook, Audrey Ciceley Heloise. "A study of identity formation in the London investment banking sector." Thesis, University of Warwick, 2008.

Kirikkaleli, Dervis. "Foreign direct investment in the banking sector : empirical evidence from Turkey." Thesis, University of Stirling, 2013.

Afanasieva, Olha Borysivna, Ольга Борисівна Афанасьєва, Ольга Борисовна Афанасьева, Yuliia Hryhorivna Lapina, Юлія Григорівна Лапіна, Юлия Григорьевна Лапина, Tetiana Volodymyrivna Shcherbyna, Тетяна Володимирівна Щербина, Татьяна Владимировна Щербина, and D. A. Govorun. "Risk management, corporate governance and investment banking: the role of CRO." Thesis, Українська академія банківської справи Національного банку України, 2013.

Koczwara, Anna Irena. "Leadership and diversity in investment banking : explaining male and femal potential." Thesis, Goldsmiths College (University of London), 2007.

Turner, Neil J. K. "Tenant environmental performance and property investment : the use of environmental management systems in reducing risk." Thesis, University of South Wales, 1995.

Fifield, Suzanne G. M. "Portfolio investment in emerging stock markets : an empirical analysis of the gains from diversification." Thesis, University of Dundee, 1999.

Vick, Sondra Kay. "Investment centers that are feasible in a credit union." CSUSB ScholarWorks, 2000.

Ageba, Gebrehiwot. "Financial liberalisation in Ethiopia : a firm level analysis of credit allocation, financial constraints and investment." Thesis, University of Oxford, 1998.

Hsia, Marshall. "Corporate investment strategies and the demand for commercial property : the implications of European market integration." Thesis, University of Reading, 1992.

Nieuwoudt, M. M. "The strategy of PSG investment bank." Thesis, Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2003.

McGrath, Michael Peter. "Decision making in unfamiliar problem domains : evidence from the investment banking industry." Thesis, Cranfield University, 2004.

Dobra-Kiel, Alexandra. "Emotions and behavioural ethics : the case of asset management and investment banking." Thesis, University of Warwick, 2017.

Delmenico, Giorgio Dario. "Disinvestments predictive model in the banking sector." Master's thesis, Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão, 2021.

Voridis, Hercules. "Consequences of pervasive regulation in the financial system : the example of private fixed investment in Greece 1958-1985." Thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London), 1990.

Sheikh, Abod Sheikh Ghazali. "Mobilisation of Muslim financial resources for investment in the Malaysian capital market : an analysis of the Bumiputera investors." Thesis, Durham University, 1995.

Sawitzki, Martin. "The Effects of Structured Products." St. Gallen, 2007.$FILE/05600523001.pdf.

Mark, Daniel L. "Investment technolgy for trading business delineating requirements, processes, and design decisions for order-management systems /." [Denver, Colo.] : Regis University, 2008.

Kosek, Jiří. "Analysis of investment products of domestic and foreign banks." Master's thesis, Vysoká škola ekonomická v Praze, 2014.


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  1. Investment thesis: Definition & How to write an investment

    Investment thesis is an important part of a stock pitch. It is a reasoned argument for an investment strategy, backed by research and analysis, and is used in all investment banking front office roles, along with private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital.

  2. Investment Thesis: An Argument in Support of Investing Decisions

    An investment thesis is a written document that recommends a new investment, based on research and analysis of its potential for profit. Individual investors can use this technique to...

  3. Investment Banking: Articles, Research, & Case Studies on

    Investment Banking New research on investment banking from Harvard Business School faculty on issues including the rationale for issuing complex securities to retail investors, as well as the origins and possible outcomes of the US financial crisis. Page 1 of 6 Results 05 Nov 2019 Working Paper Summaries

  4. What is a good (master) thesis topic in investment banking

    VDOM DHTML tml>. What is a good (master) thesis topic in investment banking?

  5. Writing a credible investment thesis

    The investment thesis is no more or less than a definitive statement, based on a clear understanding of how money is made in your business, that outlines how adding this particular business to your portfolio will make your company more valuable. Many of the best acquirers write out their investment theses in black and white.

  6. Dissertations / Theses: 'Investment banking'

    This thesis analyses the political economy of the financial regulation of US investment banking, which is an under-researched topic within the IPE of finance. Various academics claim investment banks – or “Wall Street” – have significant influence on regulatory decision-making as well as policy making more generally so that they can ...