With the Internet, Wall Street can be anywhere you want it to be. The vast amount of online information will keep you in the loop no matter where you are located. The following list, in alphabetical order, contains some key sites with information investors—and the CPAs who work with them—should know about: newsletters from analysts, corporate directories, stock quotes and general financial news. Most of these are free, but some are subscription services. However, even the for-fee services usually have a free trial period, so you can see if a service is right for you.
One page virtually every site has in common is a disclaimer: Nobody guarantees a Web site as a true path to financial success. A slick Web site is no more a guarantee of useful, accurate information than a slick newsletter. Although the sites below were recommended by users or listed on major search engines, the rule on the Web, like elsewhere, is caveat emptor.
The Journal thanks the following for sharing their favorite sites: Marjorie Meyer, a sole practitioner in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Mike Ruff, a financial adviser in Pampa, Texas; and Milton Baker, a CPA in Michigan.
Click on the business button on the home page for extensive financial news with a strong international flavor. For example, in November, ABC News covered the fall of a major Japanese securities firm, currency speculation in the Pacific Rim and recent OPEC deliberations.
These pages are densely packed with well-organized resource lists. Enter either a ticker symbol or company name for quotes, news charts and Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Look at the site's many links under IPOs/Filings, Earnings, Insiders (analyses), Mutual Funds, Tech Stocks and Futures. The site also offers an extensive list of market summaries and financial columns from a variety of sources. "Please bookmark me now," says the site, "'cause you will come back."
The Financial Center
The Financial Center is the home of "Wall Street's Market Mavens." Go here for analysts, links to brokerage firms that provide online trading, stock quotes, a news desk, an online bookstore for investors and chat rooms. If you have speakers and a sound card, you can take an audio tour of the site. Sign up for e-mail alerts of when "market mavens" will be online offering advice.
FundAlarm describes itself as a free noncommercial Web site designed to help investors decide when to sell mutual funds. It has a database of about 1,000 funds and provides information on manager changes, for example, as well as highlights and commentary. FundAlarm also provides a general introduction to the topic of selling mutual funds and describes its benchmarking system for judging funds.
Ibbotson Associates , a consulting and training company, has posted an extensive, well-organized online research resource list. Under Practitioner Daily Use, look for forums, e-mail lists and market tracking sites. Want information on federal bonds? International investing? These pages have several resources. Bookmark this site for continued use; the authors even have a "new and notable" section.
A general, free news service, InfoBeat sends e-mail newsletters every day directly to you. If you check "finance" at registration, InfoBeat will send closing prices and news for a custom portfolio of market indices, mutual funds and securities. InfoBeat even promises news alerts e-mailed throughout the day with information that can't wait until tomorrow's newspapers. Longer stories appear on the Web site.
Advertising itself as giving "trusted advice for independent investors," this site contains both articles and useful tools. In November, for example, INVESTools offered information on a "relative strength methodology," baseline company reports and a weekly update and analysis. The site also contains proprietary charts and Standard & Poor's stock reports. INVESTools presents a rotating series of featured advisers, such as Al Frank, the editor of the Prudent Speculator .
This site, an online newsletter and database, claims to have in-depth investment information on more than 10,000 stocks and 5,000 mutual funds. Visitors can go to featured investments, shareholder news or stock quotes sections, for example. For the new visitor, it even has a site tour. The "featured companies" it lists pay Researchmag.com to post the profiles they provide. However, the site posts objective information as well.
Riskview provides investors with exhaustive databases: more than five years of Dow Jones Global Indexes' historical data for about 3,000 equities. For free, visitors can run financial and risk analytics including historical returns and volatilities, risk-return analyses, forecast volatilities and correlations, portfolio performance analyses and value at risk. These Web pages claim considerable accuracy as a result of Riskview 's close association with Dow Jones.
Securities and Exchange Commission
These government pages may turn out to be the small investor's best online friend. The site's enforcement section has an "investor alerts" page describing possible frauds. Investors also will want to visit the "investor assistance and complaints" section. Among the November news items was an announcement of a pilot securities arbitration clinic to help small investors.
StockFind offers stock quotes, which visitors can find by ticker symbol or company name. There's also an IPO corner and a "What's Hot, What's Not" column. Search for financial news by industry. Especially useful, and located right on the home page, is an up-to-the-minute corporate earnings announcements list.
The Street is a financial newsletter that describes itself as "tightly written, aggressively opinionated...[and] fun to read." With lots of icons and a lively designs, the site is one of the brashest financial resources. It offers plenty of news and analysis, such as "Keep an Eye on Intel," "Flight to Quality Buoys General Equity Funds" and interviews with top money managers.
The Wall Street Directory
These pages are a series of finance-related search engines covering companies, products, services and sources for investors. Under Wall Street Malls, search the investors' bookstore or financial newsstand. Also, visitors can type in ticker symbols for charts and quotes, reports and company news. Additional services include historical data research and a list of technical analysis programs. Think of these pages as your 24-hour-a-day administrative assistant.
One of the most popular search engines, Yahoo also offers extensive resources for investors. Yahoo is organized as a series of categories that get more and more specific the further you drill down. Click on the business and economy section and note the subcategories appropriate for your needs. Yahoo may not link to every stock exchange in the world, but it comes pretty close.
Richard J. Koreto is a Journal news editor. Mr. Koreto is an employee of the American Institute of CPAs and his views, as expressed in this article, do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA. Official positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.