Computerized Investing > First Quarter 2012

Computer Investing Products

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TakeStock is an easy-to-use portfolio manager designed for the Windows operating system. You can track U.S. and international stocks and mutual funds as well as compare stock charts, obtain company information and read business news. The program is free to use and contains no ads.

The main portfolio window has two sections, with the top section displaying portfolio information and the bottom section providing access to stock quotes, charts and company information and news. The main portfolio section presents commonly used information such as symbol, name, current price and percentage change, quantity, current value, total paid, and gain/loss. You are able to customize the main window’s columns to show different data. To do so, select Choose Columns from the View dropdown menu.

In order to create a new portfolio, select New from the Portfolio menu and start adding holdings, which can be done using the Add button at the top left of the main window. You can add stocks and mutual funds, as well as cash positions and margin debt. After adding your positions, click on the Update button at the top right of the page to update your portfolio values. According to the TakeStock website, prices are updated to the real-time figures when they are available.

At the bottom of the page, the stock quotes bar provides quick access to quotes and charts for stocks and mutual funds. A historical price finder is also available. In the quote chart, the price, bid, ask, volume and price-earnings ratio are all available. You may search for quotes by entering the ticker in the search box at the bottom left.

To display a chart, click on the chart icon with a highlighted security, or use the search box. You can input 50-and 200-day moving averages as well as change the time interval displayed. In addition, you can add securities to a chart by entering the ticker symbol in the “add symbol” box and then clicking on Add Symbol. (If you press Enter on your keyboard instead of clicking on Add Symbol, the program will display only the new security and remove the old one.)

Overall, the program is remarkable for free software with no ads. One downside is that the charts cannot be resized. Also, there is one bug to point out: The “news” button does not seem to work properly. However, at the time of this writing, the last program update was made just days ago, so we are hopeful that the bug will be fixed soon.

System Requirements: Windows NT/95 or newer; 2MB of free disk space; Internet connection for portfolio value updates

Price: Free

TakeStock by Ravi Bhavnani

Book Accounts

Book Accounts is a personal finance software designed to help you track your various cash accounts, create budgets and stay on top of bills. The program does not offer investment tracking capabilities, but it provides an inexpensive method of keeping track of income and expenses.

Setting up the program is a breeze. The tabs at the top of the main window navigate to different types of accounts. You can create as many of each account type as needed. For savings and checking accounts, you start by choosing a beginning date and beginning balance for each account, preferably coinciding with your most recent bank statements. Transactions are entered in the Data Entry section. Make sure you identify whether the transaction is a deposit or a withdrawal and assign a category.

In the Credit Card tab, you can specify your credit limit, previous end date, previous balance, and cash access line. When transactions are made, they are entered into the Purchase, Cash and Service Charge section. You can specify category, description and tax amount. Book Accounts will list your transactions for the month. A check box to the left of each transaction can be used to reconcile your account later on.

The Bill Schedule is a simple but useful feature. After you enter the bill name, description, due date and amount, the schedule will sent alerts when the due date approaches. There is a “paid” check box to mark if you pay a bill early.

The Budget tab will allow you to set up a simple budget. You are able to specify how close you want to get to your allotted spending before the program sends an alert. A calendar is also available.

Overall, the program’s straightforward design provides a great way to manage your finances. Book Accounts has two drawbacks: It does not handle investment accounts and it does not sync with accounts online. If you do not like the idea of providing your account usernames and passwords, Book Accounts may be beneficial to you.

A comprehensive help section is available.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista and 7; Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

Price: $15.95; free 45-day trial

My Home Software

Stock Investment Guide

The Stock Investment Guide is a tool for performing comprehensive fundamental stock analysis on publicly traded companies. The program uses historical data obtained from SSG files or free data sources. It allows you to provide future growth rates to project trends, earnings and sales to determine intrinsic value.

There are two ways to import data to begin an analysis. If you have access to SSG files, either through a subscription with AAII’s Stock Investor Pro or another source, you may simply import the SSG file in the main window by selecting Import SSG from the File menu. When the stock appears in the main window, double-click on it to begin your analysis. Separately, you may change the options to retrieve data from free sources online. To do this, select SIG Options from the Edit menu. In the Stock Data tab, check Use Free Internet Stock Data Sources. When you return to the main window, type in the ticker symbol at the top-left and click on Fetch Data.

Double-clicking on a stock in the main window will open the stock analysis window. Here, you will find the data that has either been imported or downloaded from the Internet, including quarterly and annual financial statements. In the Graph tab, you can see historical trends in earnings, sales and pretax income with a high-low price chart overlaid. Enter an estimated growth rate for sales and earnings to see the projected chart.

The next tab, Analysis, is where the meat of the program lies. The first table shows numerical trends of pretax profit, return on equity and debt to equity. The second table shows the previous five-years’ high and low prices, high and low price-earnings ratios, and dividend information, along with a five-year average for each. The next few tables allow you to calculate forecasted five-year high price and five-year low price, along with buy, sell and hold zones based on the calculations. In addition, upside risk and return analyses are provided.

Other tabs offered include performance, data graphs and reports. Overall, this program stands out as something all users of fundamental analysis should try, especially given the free trial period available.

System Requirements: Pentium processor or better; Windows 2000 or later; SSG files or Internet connection for data downloads

Price: $80; 30-day free trial

Churr Software is an investment analysis website that focuses mainly on exchange-traded fund ETF research. The website has a wealth of features. Some of the most fascinating tools provided by include charting of ETF price and volatility, ETF backtesting, charting of ETF total return against price return and an ETF screener.

After navigating to the main site, click on ETF Charts to load a charting tool. You can compare up to five ETFs over various time frames. The two bar charts at the right present the total-return percentage over the time frame as well as the volatility for the ETFs selected. Under advanced settings, you can toggle between graphing total return or compound annual growth rate, and you can select whether to include the drawdown.

The backtesting capabilities for free users are limited to a portfolio of five ETFs, either long or short with various weightings and with only a buy-and-hold rebalancing strategy. The volatility of the portfolio and a comparison against the S&P 500 index, measured by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY, are shown. In addition, factors such as the Sharpe ratio, security correlations, and maximum drawdown are all provided. Paid subscribers can backtest using up to 25 ETFs and can use moving averages and relative strength for entering and exiting positions.

Charting total return against price return for various ETFs is a useful feature offered by the website. Using any of the ETFs available, will display the price returns compared to the total returns over various time frames; the difference can be significant over longer time frames.

Finally, an ETF screener is available. The screener is very basic, but it allows users to screen ETFs on returns over two separate time frames, as well as to screen ETFs on volatility and assets. The time frames available for returns range from one day to three years, and the volatility time frames available range from two days to three years.

There are multitudes of other tools available, including the ability to chart ETF correlations and dividend yields. The website also has the ability to filter for ETFs that have recently broken into new highs or lows within a user-specified period of time.

System Requirements: Internet connection and Web browser

Price: Free; $29.99/month to subscribe


Chaikin Power Tools 1.2 Released

Chaikin Stock Research, creator of the free Chaikin Power Tools iPhone app for traders, announced upgrades that further establish the app as a top source of Wall Street–quality stock research and seamless online trading. New features of version 1.2 include options trading through partner optionsXpress, a “Modify Order” button to cancel and replace open orders, and improved speed and clarity of the “Orders” display.

Fund Manager 11.4 Now Available

Fund Manager has released version 11.4 of their portfolio management program. Along with several bug fixes, new additions include sub-portfolio indents in the portfolio menu according to hierarchy, an option for calculating out-of-pocket figures for transfer-type transactions, and a description field for editing the list of stock symbols.

New DJ-UBS Commodity Index 2012 Weights

New target weightings for the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index and the addition of the Brent futures contract as part of the index’s crude oil component were announced by Dow Jones Indexes and UBS Investment Bank.

Changes to the index, scheduled to take effect in January 2012, were determined and approved by the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Supervisory Committee following consultation with the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Advisory Committee. The symbol for this index is DJP.

Russell Launches Small-Cap ETFs

Russell Investments launched four Small Cap Investment Discipline exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on NASDAQ. The four ETFs are based on corresponding newly launched Russell U.S. Small Cap Investment Discipline Indexes, which were constructed to give focused exposure to investment approaches commonly practiced by professional small-cap equity managers. The new small-cap ETFs are Russell U.S. Small Cap Aggressive Growth ETF (SGGG), Russell U.S. Small Cap Consistent Growth ETF (SCOG), Russell U.S. Small Cap Low P/E ETF (SCLP) and Russell U.S. Small Cap Contrarian ETF (SCTR).

VantagePoint Expands Coverage

Market Technologies LLC announced that its forecasting software, VantagePoint, now covers the benchmark indexes on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. They have also expanded VantagePoint’s coverage of the U.S. markets with the addition of two new exchange-traded fund ETF categories that are devoted to currencies and commodities. These additions expand VantagePoint’s trading library of forex, futures, stocks and ETFs.

Russell Launches International “Factor” ETFs

Russell Investments launched its first international equity factor exchange-traded funds (ETFs), designed to provide investors with focused exposure to fundamental risk factors within their portfolio’s international equity allocation. The three new factor ETFs, which are listed on NYSE Arca, are as follows: Russell Developed ex-U.S. Low Beta ETF (XLBT), Russell Developed ex-U.S. Low Volatility ETF (XLVO) and Russell Developed ex-U.S. High Momentum ETF (XHMO).

W Patterns Added to Bollinger Site was recently updated to include searches for potential W patterns. The website now searches approximately 6,000 stocks each evening for the possibility of the pattern. The W pattern is used by technicians in an effort to determine the bottom of the market and is shaped like a W, forming two distinct bottoms; it is thought to be followed by a market rally.

TradeStation Launches New Options Platform

TradeStation announced the launch of a new options trading platform called OptionStation Pro. The launch will coincide with the forthcoming release of TradeStation 9.1. Key features include advanced options charting with interactive 3-D position graphs; advanced order-entry technology; configurable spread-specific options chain views; dynamic options pricing and Greek calculations; the ability to build, evaluate and track any options position; and spread-recognition logic that enables traders to transform existing positions and create hypothetical ones.


Gary from SC posted over 6 years ago:

Most of these articles are rip offs.

Gary from SC posted over 6 years ago:

Most of these articles are rip offs.

Matt B. from MD posted over 6 years ago:

I am looking for the best-of-breed personal finance software. I see some miscellaneous reviews of little known software products. Is this the best-of-breed that AAII recommends? What about Quicken and others?

John C from CT posted over 4 years ago:

13 Feb 2014:

What is "best" personal finance software for Mac users? Running a search of this website under "personal finance software" does not yield satisfactory reference.

Thank you !

Eric Slosberg from Michigan posted over 4 years ago:

I just purchased STOCK INVESTOR PROFESSIONAL. I'd like to use the .ssg datafiles with SIG from CHURR Software. How do I do that? Thanks

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