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Computerized Investing > March/April 2009

Messages: What Members Are Asking On-Line

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by CI Staff

I have used Microsoft Money for nearly 10 years, but have not repeatedly upgraded with each new edition. Your article in the January/February 2009 issue [Feature: Money Plus Premium vs. Quicken Premier] has prompted me to question whether I should switch to Quicken. This leads to my question: Does each program have a feature that permits you to import data from the other? So, for example, if I buy Quicken, does it have a feature that would permit me to import all my MS Money data into it without having to re-enter it manually? And if there is such a feature, would the importation of data include account names, passwords for accessing my accounts at my investment broker, etc.? In other words, just how extensive is the import feature? How much data would I have to manually enter?

—T.M. via Leave a Comment

CI Editor's Response: Quicken has created a data converter that enables users to automatically convert their data from Microsoft Money into Quicken. The importation includes all of the account names and transaction data, including categories and balances. What won’t import are employee stock options and MS Money budget information. Users have to recreate that information within Quicken, as well as set up a data download from their financial institution if they want to do so. For more information on the data converter, visit the Support area of the Quicken Web site at quicken.intuit.com and click on “Converting data from Microsoft Money files to Quicken.”

Sharebuilder On-Line Broker

For several years I have been using Sharebuilder and have been generally pleased with it. After reading the On-Line Discount Broker comparison in the January/February 2009 issue, I am concerned as to why you chose not to include Sharebuilder. I would welcome any information you have concerning how Sharebuilder compares with the other brokers citied in that article.

—J.G. via E-mail

CI Editor's Response: Because Sharebuilder is a portfolio-based system charging a monthly fee, its commissions are not comparable with the traditional on-line discount brokers. Also, Sharebuilder does not trade all listed stocks, which is a requirement for inclusion in our comparison of on-line discount brokers.

Defining Relative Strength

I notice that many investment articles, as well as the screening criteria for the Martin Zweig approach, talk about relative price strength. What exactly is relative price strength and how would I calculate it from closing price data?

—T.L. via E-mail

CI Editor's Response: There are several ways to measure the performance of a stock, typically on either an absolute or a relative basis. Price change over a specified time period is an example of absolute performance, while relative performance communicates how well a stock has performed compared to some benchmark, usually a market or industry index.

The most basic means of calculating relative strength is by dividing the percentage price change of a stock over some time period by the percentage change of a market index over the same period:

Relative strength =[Ending stock price ÷ Beginning stock price
Ending index value ÷ Beginning index value
]-1

The key is to use the same beginning and ending date for both the stock closing price and the index value.

Relative strength may be reported with a base level of zero or one; the base level represents stock price performance equal to the index. The relative strength data used for the AAII stock screens has a base level of zero. Therefore, if a company has a four-week relative strength value of 5, it means that the stock’s performance was 5% higher than that of the S&P 500 over the last four weeks. Negative relative strength numbers indicate relative underperformance by the stock over the specified period.

Some of the AAII stock screens also make use of relative strength percentile ranks. Percentile rank shows you how a particular company “stacks up” to the competition—in this case all of the companies in AAII’s Stock Investor Pro database. If a company has a four-week relative strength percentile rank of 25, it means that, over the last four weeks, the stock has performed better than only 25% of all companies in the AAII database.

Open Source Investment Software

I would be interested in much greater coverage of open source software and the Linux operating system in CI. I regularly use Linux as my basic desktop system. My main use of Windows is for tax preparation and the occasional final document preparation with the Windows version of OpenOffice to make use of Windows fonts. I run mainly Centos, Ubuntu, and Fedora distributions.

—S.K. via E-mail

CI Editor's Response: Currently, only a small percent of AAII members use Linux, with over 90% using Windows and the balance using the Mac OS. That being said, we do try to provide coverage of software for all computer operating systems, not just Windows. If any of our readers are Linux (or Mac or Windows) users aware of open source investment software titles, we would appreciate hearing about them. We always welcome reader suggestions at ci@aaii.com.


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