Update: New Computer Investing Products
by CI Staff
This free retirement calculator uses Monte Carlo analysis to project the potential of your investments. Monte Carlo analysis is an analytical technique that runs a large number of simulations using random quantities of uncertain variables and looks at the distribution of the results to infer which outcomes are most likely. This technique takes into account the volatility of investments as well as the timing of additions and withdrawals to investment accounts.
Pivot Point Advisors’ Retirement Calculator provides tools to assist in recording present and future expenses and incomes, as well as assets and liabilities. Actual historical data is then used to decide any number of scenarios you choose including the best- and worst-case scenarios. Typically the lowest historical returns are assumed for the worst case and the highest for the best case.
Asset classes include cash, stocks, bonds and real estate (broken down by census district since real estate returns vary greatly by region). Future income and expenses are projected to increase at a fixed inflation rate—chosen by the user—and liabilities are projected to decrease as balances are paid off.
The required minimum distribution from retirement accounts and all taxes from investments and income are also incorporated into the analysis. The Retirement Calculator is easy to use and the Web site has detailed instructions on downloading, installing and using the program. The software is free for download at www.pivotpointadvisors.com/retirementcalculator.asp
BetterInvesting Portfolio Manager
Previously known as the NAIC Portfolio Record Keeper, the BetterInvesting Portfolio Manager provides users with numerous tools to track their investment portfolios. A portfolio is created by entering the appropriate data for each of your investments (i.e., transaction date, price and number of shares bought). The program tracks common and preferred stock, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, options, and cash equivalencies. In addition, mergers and acquisitions, dividend reinvestment plans, stock splits and dividends and spin-offs can all be accounted for.
The program’s home page screen shows a portfolio snapshot that includes the portfolio price-earnings ratio and beta and year-to-date activity that lists investment income, performance and realized gains and losses. The portfolio’s current holdings and values, a list of transactions and a breakdown of portfolio diversification are also given. A refresh button allows users to update prices and portfolio values frequently.
Over 35 customizable reports can be generated on various aspects of the portfolio including performance, taxes, target asset allocations and diversification. All of the reports can be printed.
BetterInvesting Portfolio Manager can also help with tax preparation. Once portfolios are created, investors will have tax records and relevant information in place to help make important tax decisions. For example, investors can view a report showing transactions for a specified time period that includes gains and losses for tax reporting purposes.
The program offers fundamental security analysis and screening tools.
TradeKing, a new on-line brokerage firm, offers Web-based trading and tools with no minimum account balance. TradeKing charges $4.95 per trade for stocks and options, plus $0.65 per contract for options. The rates do not change based on trading assets or trading volume and are the same for market and limit orders. The site also offers securities quotes and research tools as well as blogs and podcasts discussing a wide range of investment topics.
Reuters now offers its own stock screening program, PowerScreener 3.0. The screening universe is made up of all U.S. companies, and the program has over 600 criteria for screening, sorting and ranking. The results are viewed in a customizable format and can be exported to Excel. Users can create their own variables and criteria as well. PowerScreener 3.0 includes 19 predefined screens and costs $39.99 per month or $299 per year. A free 30-day trial is available at the Web site.
RealMoney.com has introduced four new real-time trading blogs (Web logs). The blogs cover the equity, options and bond markets. Jim Cramer and James DePorre write equity blogs, Steven Smith authors the options blog and Tony Crescenzi takes on the bond market. The blogs are interactive and allow RealMoney subscribers to post their thoughts and comments. A subscription to RealMoney.com costs $24.95 per month.
QMatix is offering AAII members a $25 discount off xlqPlus’ $114 price. xlqPlus delivers live, intraday and historical worldwide stock market data. Data can be used in xlqCompanion, Excel and other programs, or with programming languages through a COM interface from Yahoo! and MSN. With more than 150 formulas available, xlqPlus can maintain a portfolio or perform personalized in-depth stock analysis. In addition to real-time market data updated from the Internet, xlqPlus also provides an Excel interface for all data from AAII’s Stock Investor Pro. AAII members can download a free demo version of XLQ at AAII.com’s Download Library in the Stocks/Fundamental Analysis section. For the discount when purchasing, enter AAII-SIP when checking out through the QMatix Web site.
DTN has released DTN Mobile, which provides subscribers with real-time market data, industry news and weather updates via cell phones and PDAs. The service is compatible with any mobile device with wireless access and has a WAP 2.0 browser. A free seven-day trial is available at the Web site.
GAIN Capital’s trading platform, FOREXTrader, has been updated with enhanced charting capabilities and intraday market analysis. GAIN Capital offers a free 30-day demo on its Web site.