On the Internet: International Investments
by CI Staff
Investors who want to diversify their holdings often look abroad for international investments. Foreign investments can range from direct currency speculation to traditional bond and stock investments. However, direct investment in foreign-traded stocks can be difficult and costly for the individual investor. The easy choice is internationally focused mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. But those give you little control over which stocks, industries or countries you end up investing in.
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For total control over your foreign investments you can invest in American depositary receipts (ADRs), which are negotiable certificates issued by U.S. banks that represent a specified number of shares in a foreign stock. These securities are denominated in U.S. dollars and are traded on a U.S. exchange.
You can also invest directly in foreign stocks by accessing foreign exchanges. This is much more complicated than buying ADRs since it typically requires making transactions in foreign currencies.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the data on these sites is free.
Euroland offers investors information for several international stock exchanges. The home-page offers recent press releases, a focus on a company, index and stock graphs, and a customizable My Shares performance list.
The site is broken into seven sections. The first, Stock Markets, lets you search the database by company name or ticker symbol, or by selecting one or more exchanges and industries. The matching companies are displayed in a list that includes current market data such as price, volume and days change. You can easily add a stock from this list to a portfolio or watchlist youve set up by checking the box next to the stock and choosing Add. For more information about individual companies, simply click the company name.
Data on each company includes price and volume data, key multiples, a list of recent corporate news and technical analysis tools. You can choose between charting tools: a basic HTML version or an ActiveX version (note that ActiveX is not compatible with the Mac OS). You must use Internet Explorer in order to install the more sophisticated ActiveX version. After ActiveX has been installed, you can use the charting tool for a variety of technical indicators and timeframes.
You can create customized portfolios and watchlists. While you cannot change the data that is displayed, you can choose to rank the holdings by any of the criteria displayed. Registered users can save portfolios and watchlists for later use and create alerts.
The Indices area includes performance data on popular indexes from a number of exchanges including Euronext, Amsterdam, NASDAQ, Helsinki, Milan, Tokyo, Toronto and more. Finally, a currency converter makes comparison among 33 currencies quick and easy. Currency exchange rates are updated throughout the day.
ADR.com is operated by JP Morgan, which created the first ADR in 1927. The homepage provides recent news headlines with links to the full stories. A Whats New section offers announcements of newly listed ADRs, mergers and other related ADR offering news.
To search for certain ADRs, you can use the DR Search area. Search the sites database for a specific ADR by company name, ticker symbol, or CUSIP. For a more general search, you can choose the exchange, sponsor bank, region, country or sector. You can also download the entire universe of ADRs to an Excel file.
A list of search results is displayed under the search options. The list can be ranked by a number of criteria including company name, ticker, exchange, country and sector. For more detailed information about the ADR, you can click the company name, but not all ADRs have additional information available.
The additional information offered, when available, is broad and deep. A profile page includes current price, daily change, volume, year-to-date change, market cap, short interest data, numerous ratios including price-earnings ratio and price-to-sales ratio, forward estimates and more. A summary of the companys business and a list of the top institutional and mutual fund holders are found as well.
More specific quote data, news stories, ownership information, earnings estimates, financial statements and charting are free for users. The basic price and volume chart is simple, allowing only for custom dates. A more advanced charting tool lets you pick securities for comparison and choose a timeframe as well as a number of technical indicators.
The rest of the site is devoted to general market and ADR information and educational services. A current market snapshot, lists of the days top gainers and losers, and the best-performing sectors and countries are all shown in the Market Overview section.
Educational materials can be found in the Info & Research area, which includes a glossary of terms, a discussion of the fundamentals of ADRs, a weekly briefing of the ADR market and free annual reports for selected companies.
ADR.com also has a portfolio tracker for registered users. Go to My adr.com and choose Register Now to create a customized portfolio with up-to-the-minute quotes and news. You can set portfolio alerts as well as receive automatic E-mail updates. This area also contains a portfolio builder tool, which helps you select and identify potential investments.
The Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon provides data on a number of sponsored and unsponsored ADRs. The site is broken down into three sections: information for brokers, investors and issuers. The Investors area provides general market data along with more specific information on individual ADRs.
The DR Directory & Profiles section lets you search the BNY Mellon database for ADRs by region, country, industry, exchange and bank. The list of ADRs is shown in alphabetical order and cannot be ranked.
To learn more about an ADR, click the company name. A summary of the business, basic information such as ticker, exchange and CUSIP are displayed along with institutional ownership, recent news and events, performance data and more. Not all data fields are available for all companies.
For general market information, you can go to the Market Highlights area, which allows you to filter the ADR database by various criteria and choose the performance data displayed in the results table. Market analysis includes a daily summary, a monthly index performance review and a quarterly review and fact sheet.
The Tools area lets you create a watchlist for up to 50 ADRs with delayed market data. Interactive charting tools allow for comparison between a number of securities, as well as customization capabilities like technical indicators and timeframe. An interesting tool available only from BNY Mellon is a DR Converter, which allows you to compare and analyze the cost of owning an ADR versus holding shares of the same company directly in the local market.
Finally, the DR University offers advice, tips and step-by-step articles about ADR investing.
CIA World Factbook
As any smart investor knows, there are risks to investing, more so when it involves investing in a foreign country. Many things can cause an economy to become unstable and sometimes this can happen quickly. Before investing in an overseas company, you should take a look at its governments policies, the stability of its economy and other outside factors that could influence your investment performance.
The CIAs World Factbook provides a great deal of information for every government, territory and country in the world. Data includes maps, flags, a quick overview of recent happenings, a description of government policies, overall economic health, information about the military, transportation and communication details, and a discussion of international relations. Economic data covers items such as GDP (gross domestic product), labor force, unemployment rate, budget, industries, imports and exports, currency, fiscal year, and debt.
Note that the CIA Web site is now encrypted to ensure visitor confidentiality. To go directly to the World Factbook, be sure to use the prefix https:// when entering the Web address.