EarlyRetire Pro is a software tool for examining the effects of variables on the growth and consumption of financial assets over a lifetime. The program also assists in developing a plan to optimize asset value.
The software allows you to adjust variables such as income, asset values and market returns to reflect your current status and personal goals and to project future wealth and explore the conditions in which you can retire.
The program guides you step-by-step, first asking you to enter your current age and your current assets. The program performs calculations based on the assumption that you will invest those assets and make annual savings contributions to them until you reach your designated retirement age.
The program then assumes that you will begin drawing a retirement income from distributions of your invested assets at the designated age. Both before and after you retire, your assets are calculated to grow based on the return on investment you expect to receive. Taxes are also taken into account.
You can add other asset inflows and outflows along the way, including Social Security, pension income and college expenses.
EarlyRetire Pro allows you to change variables to see how they will affect the outcome. Because each variable is dependent on others, a small change might make a large difference. Each time you calculate a variable, you can generate a graph or a report that details how the plan would be implemented.
Specific investment recommendations are not generated, but two additional tools can help in decision-making: the ROI/Asset Allocation Calculator allows you to experiment with different asset allocations and see the effect they would have on your return on investing; and the Interview employs a fill-in-the-blank method to determine your current asset allocation and retirement needs.
Finally, EarlyRetire Pro automatically downloads IRS tax tables and stock and bond market statistics each year.
System Requirements: Windows
Price: $99.95; free 10-day trial
6432 East Mineral Place
Centennial, CO 80112
MarketGrader.com is a site for stock analysis and ratings that offers a database of over 6,000 stocks (5,000 U.S. exchange-traded stocks and 1,000 Canadian).
Once you subscribe, the site’s landing page lists your portfolios and watchlists. You can create between one and five portfolios and watchlists based on your subscription level. Each portfolio can hold 50 stocks and each watchlist can hold up to 100 stocks. In addition to checking the performance of your portfolios and watchlists, you can also view upcoming earnings announcements, breaking news and changes to MarketGrader ratings for your stocks.
MarketGrader’s proprietary buy/hold/sell ratings are based on price strength and momentum, earnings guidance, short interest change and fundamental data. Stock data is updated nightly and ratings will change with changes in a company’s fundamentals.
For each company, there is an overall buy/hold/sell rating and an overall A to F grade. Individual grades are also listed for the six components of the overall grade: long-term and short-term growth, relative price strength, growth potential, earnings momentum and earnings surprise.
You can read a summary of recent news affecting a stock, including earnings releases. The SnapShots page allows you to see a stock’s financial results for the latest four quarters side-by-side. The six grading components are given for each quarter so that you can see how the rating has changed over time with each new earnings announcement.
The Side-by-Side analysis allows you to compare three stocks and their respective ratings at once. The Fundamental Quadrant offers a visual aid for MarketGrader’s grading system. Each quadrant represents a fundamental grade category (growth, value, profitability and cash flow) and is subdivided into six “slices” representing one of MarketGrader’s indicators. Each slice is highlighted in color to indicate a grade level, from A+ to F.
The meat of the program is in the company database, which you can search by ticker symbol or company name. MarketGrader also offers a stock screening tool with over 40 fundamental and technical data points for screening.
System Requirements: Internet connection
Price: One watchlist and one portfolio, $100 per year; five watchlists and five portfolios, $180 per year; free 14-day trial
156 Almeria Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Bloomberg is known for its market information, news and statistics. The Bloomberg Web site offers a wealth of information on individual securities and the market as a whole (both domestic and worldwide). For investors on the go, Bloomberg offers an application app to access its data via a wireless, mobile device. You can download the app for free at the iTunes app store.
You can access most Web sites via a mobile device for full functionality, but the data is not always formatted to fit on the smaller screen, making them hard to read and cumbersome to search. While many financial Web sites now offer stripped-down versions as apps, Bloomberg has brought its market news and data to the small screen with more features than most.
The app is divided into four main sections: News, Markets, My Stocks and Stock Finder. The News area provides both written and audio breaking news stories. Audio news stories are updated regularly and can be downloaded to your mobile device. You can also customize your news display by choosing stories from around the globe or specific geographic regions; news about stocks, funds, bonds, commodities or currencies; or news for specific market sectors.
The Markets area provides performance data for indexes in various international markets including Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Selecting a market index takes you to more detailed information such as the index’s performance, news, and the stock makeup of the index.
You can create watchlists and track stocks with the My Stocks page. Numerous stocks with position and price can be added, and the current price is displayed. Selecting a stock brings up a stock summary page that includes price and volume data, a chart and recent news.
The Stock Finder allows you to search for stocks by ticker or name. It then pulls up the stock summary page with price and volume data, news and a chart.
System Requirements: Mobile device with Internet connection
FINVIZ, short for financial visualizations, is a Web site that combines various fundamental, technical and market visualization tools. The site offers a good deal of information and tools for free. The site’s home page highlights the top stocks meeting FINVIZ “signals.” Signals mark top gaining and losing stocks, those hitting new highs and lows, stocks with unusual volume, upgrades and downgrades, and stocks that are overbought or oversold based on relative strength.
You can hover the mouse over a ticker symbol to see a technical chart and click the signal title to see an extended list of stocks exhibiting similar characteristics.
Detailed stock data is delayed and includes a multitude of price and volume statistics, earnings estimates, historical and forward-looking growth rates, sales data, data on short selling, relative strength figures, dividend information and more.
The site also has a stock screening tool with 61 criteria for screening, including fundamental data and technical indicators. You can screen the database by signal first and then run your custom screens against the smaller universe of stocks. Or, you can add one criterion at a time; as each new criterion is added, the screener automatically narrows the database. A great feature is the ability to hover the mouse over any criterion to read a definition. Screens can be saved for later use.
After running a screen, you can choose from 13 views and save the passing companies list as a portfolio for later use. You can also create portfolios from scratch.
Other information on the site includes charts of the top-performing sectors over various timeframes, detailed lists of insider trading information, and links to current news and analysis. The Maps area shows stocks in an index or group as a mosaic in varying colors and sizes to represent performance.
For $39.50 per month, FINVIZ Elite adds real-time data, more advanced charting tools, alerts and the ability to backtest strategies using technical indicators.
System Requirements: Internet connection
Price: Free; Elite, $39.50 per month
FINVIZ Institutional Services
1 Center Drive
Hillsdale, NJ 07642
The Electronic Municipal Market Access EMMA is operated by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, the municipal bond market regulator. The EMMA Web site provides free access to official disclosure documents associated with municipal bonds issued in the U.S. EMMA also provides real-time trade data for approximately 1.2 million outstanding municipal bonds and current interest rates for auction rate securities.
Cake Financial has been acquired by discount broker E*Trade. The Cake site is no longer operational, but its functionality will be incorporated into E*Trade’s Web site and existing set of tools.
MUTUALdecision.com was mentioned in the Fourth Quarter 2009 issue of Computerized Investing. The Web site is no longer in operation.
Reuters has launched a redesigned site. The home page lists breaking news stories, market data, and “Issues in Depth”—a section that covers popular economic and market-related topics. Also, there are new navigation tabs on company data pages and a toolbar at the bottom of every page. Reuters is free.
TaxCaster, a new iPhone app from Intuit, lets you quickly gauge how much you will receive or owe in taxes this year. The app asks for some personal information, your income from various sources, and credits and deductions. The information is not transferred to TurboTax (Intuit’s online platform and software for tax preparation), but the app gives you a quick estimate of your tax refund or payment. TaxCaster Mobile is free at the iTunes app store.
Trade MONSTER, an online discount broker, has launched a new tool called “Exit Plan.” The tool is designed to help investors set profit and loss parameters for trades. Exit Plan employs simple terminology to illustrate complicated concepts and trading ideas like trailing stops and trigger orders. After you create an exit plan, the tool displays the real-time probabilities of your targets being hit and allows you to fine-tune the parameters. The new tool is free for Trade MONSTER clients.
Quicken 2007 has been discontinued and support for the program will cease on April 30, 2010. Users will no longer be able to download transactions from banks and brokers, download stock quotes and news, or receive technical support. Intuit is offering a discount for 2007 users to upgrade to Quicken 2010. Visit www.newquicken.com/exclusive for more information.
Morningstar Premium subscribers can now receive personalized reports with detailed performance metrics, analysis, and investment insights regarding portfolios. The Portfolio Monitor is delivered monthly via e-mail and provides a comprehensive summary of your portfolio. The report contains an overview of performance, including top contributors and detractors, and a breakdown of current asset, sector, region, and investment style allocations. Performance is also compared against other similar portfolios, including those managed by professionals. In addition, you will get a hypothetical outlook on your portfolio’s potential value in five, 10, 20 and 30 years. A Premium subscription is $19.95 per month.
TimetoTrade has launched a new trend alert tool that tracks the movements of stocks, foreign currency pairs, indexes and exchange-traded funds. When prices break above or below a trendline, investors are alerted via text message, e-mail or instant messenger. Access to TimetoTrade’s basic features is free.
Fidelity, an online discount broker, has launched a new data and research center. New features include: popular stock screening strategies; lists of the most traded stocks by Fidelity customers; the ability to run screening strategies based on the most actively traded stocks; and additional research and analysis for international stocks. Some of the new features are available to all investors, while the active stock lists are restricted to Fidelity customers.