Update: New Computer Investing Products
by CI Staff
Investment Account Manager is a portfolio management tool created by the same company that developed the NAIC Portfolio Record Keeper, which was recently renamed the BetterInvesting Portfolio Manager. Investment Account Manager is designed for investors who principally focus their investing in common stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds. The program offers a step-by-step set-up wizard that takes new users through the portfolio creation process and also allows users to download current balance information from certain financial institutions.
Users can track multiple portfolios comprised of stocks, bonds, cash, mutual funds, money market accounts, and exchange-traded funds. Detailed transaction lists can be created as well. Additionally, you can track purchases, sales, dividends, interest, fees, stock splits, spin-offs, mergers, tender offers, dividend reinvestment plans and return on capital for each security in your portfolio.
The program’s portfolio management tools allow you to set allocation targets, see your current allocation in a pie chart and analyze your portfolio based on diversification, allocation and performance. The program also tracks performance using a time-weighted internal rate of return.
Investment Account Manager includes price alerts that inform you of security movements and a calendar to remind you of important dates (such as earnings releases). You can also import data from the BetterInvesting S&P Stock and Mutual Fund Database and you can import data on common stocks from AAII’s fundamental stock screening program, Stock Investor Pro.
ESPlanner (Economic Security Planner) is a financial planning software based on the life-cycle model that attempts to explain the way that people split their income between spending and saving. The goal of ESPlanner is to help investors maintain the highest possible standard of living throughout their lifetime by “consumption smoothing.”
The program recommends annual consumption, savings, and life insurance levels for individuals and families. ESPlanner uses a dynamic programming method to find a balance between maximizing and smoothing a family’s income over time. To start, users must enter some basic information into the program including: salaries, target retirement age, current market value of investments, mortgage and loan payments and special expenses such as weddings and funerals. Multiple “families” can be created and stored for evaluation.
Results can be viewed in graphical or text format. The ESPlanner Plus includes a Monte Carlo simulation that generates recommended annual levels of consumption and savings based on 500 different simulations.
Dozens of reports can be generated detailing future annual tax payments and receipts, mortgage and interest payments, non-asset income, and more. The software also has a Contingent Planning feature that allows users to plan for things such as unexpected deaths, emergencies and lifetime disabilities. A detailed tutorial with step-by-step instructions can be found on the Web site. It can be downloaded as a Word or PDF file.
Google has launched a new financial data service. For stocks, the new site offers quotes and interactive charts, company financial data, current news and links to blog opinions. Data on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds is available, along with a portfolio tool. The site also supports moderated discussion groups. Access to the site is free.
Morningstar has introduced four new charting tools on its Web site. The price chart allows users to compare a stock’s price against other stocks and 20 market indexes. The fundamental chart compares stock ratios, growth rates and profitability statistics, while the technical analysis chart allows users to analyze stocks based on volume, momentum, market strength, moving averages and price. Morningstar premium members have access to the fair value chart (which compares Morningstar analysts’ estimates of fair value) and can view Morningstar ratings on over 1,700 stocks. Regular membership is free with registration and a premium membership costs $14.95 per month.
ADVFN—advanced financial network—is now offering free market data on three Japanese exchanges: Tokyo, Fukuoka and Sapporo. Users can view streaming quotes, charts and historical data for stocks and indexes on each exchange. The Tokyo stock exchange is the world’s second largest exchange, while the Fukuoka specializes in companies in the Fukuoka region and the Sapporo specializes in companies in the Hokkaido region.
TradeKing, an on-line broker, is now offering a probability calculator for equity investors. The on-line calculator draws on options trading to gauge the probability of future price movements. It uses real-time option pricing data and a bell-curve distribution to calculate the probability of a stock or index moving above or below a target price.
OptionVue 5, an options analysis software program, now has the ability to backtest trading strategies. The BackTrader module provides five years of historical pricing data on all assets and their respective options. Historical prices, charts and additional market data are also available for any period in the past five years. The program allows users to apply trading strategies and move the clock forward in 30-minute or daily increments to see how a strategy would have performed. A 30-day trial is available at the Web site for $49.
TradersAudio launched its Web site in January of this year and is now providing its squawk service for the Chicago Board of Trade’s 30-year and 10-year futures and options as well as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s eurodollar. Subscription prices range from $75 per month to $250 per month depending on the exchange; free three-day trials are available.