by John Bajkowski
|COMING NEXT ISSUE:|
|Annual Review of Comprehensive Web Sites|
Our product comparison this issue examines Web-based fundamental screening services. It has been two years since we last looked at this group and a number of changes in the marketplace can be observed. Nearly one-third of the services from the prior comparison have disappeared—either absorbed by other companies, or pulled off the market due to a change in customer focus. Three services were bought out by other companies that already had a financial data presence in the industry. For example, SimplyStocks, a financial services company based in India, was acquired by a financial data company geared toward supplying financial data to institutional clients. An individual investor Web presence for such a company only makes the data seem less unique and less valuable for its institutional clients. Separately, the free stock screening service operated by Hoovers is also gone. Hoovers had used the service to draw individual investors into its Web site to help sell subscriptions to financial data access, but now that Hoovers only sells data subscriptions geared toward businesses, the screening tool has been dropped.
Most of the screening sites that have vanished were free services, only to be replaced predominantly by subscription-based services with ties to print-based publications serving individual investors—Investors.com, Kiplingers.com, SmartMoney.com Select, and Value Line Investment Survey Online.
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Investors.com is tied to the Investors Business Daily newspaper and William ONeils long-running data service. The site is fee-based and sells a collection of research tools for $1,000 per year. The analysis on the site is geared toward investors looking to follow the growth and momentum strategies featured in Investors Business Daily, such as CAN SLIM.
Kiplingers.com has taken the tools that Thomson Financial used to offer and provided additional content from its publications and writers.
SmartMoney.com is run by Dow Jones which also publishes the Wall Street Journal and Barrons. SmartMoney.com has provided a useful and slightly different set of financial tools for some time, but lacked an on-line stock screening tool. Now with its fee-based Select subscription, subscribers have access to a very capable screening tool that surpasses free tools available on the Internet.
Finally, Value Line Investment Survey Online offers Web access to Value Lines reports and research coupled with a Web-based stock screening tool. Value Line still continues to sell a disc-based stock screening program (Value Line Investment Analyzer) that offers updates via the Web or CD-ROM and is tied to the Web-based service, but we feel the software program itself offers a better interface for screening and company analysis.
While a number of sites still offer free screening that is good, the market is showing that it will pay for compelling data and features.