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AAII's Best of the Net: 2011 Guide to the Top Investment Web Sites, 15th Edition

AAII's Best Of The Net: 2011 Guide To The Top Investment Web Sites, 15th Edition Splash image

Content continues to be the single most important determinant of what constitutes a good website. Though Internet users increasingly want to access websites from any location on any number of different devices, content—whether in the form of written articles, video, audio or tools—is what continues to draw visitors to a website. This is why, when putting together our 15th Best of the Net Guide, we placed an emphasis on providing you with a list of the most useful investment-related websites and tools. A useful website has more value than one that may be on the cutting edge from a technological standpoint, but lacks much in the way of good content.

The reviews in this year’s guide are for traditional websites, instead of the new crop of mobile websites. Our rationale is that desktop and laptop computers are still the primary choices for Web surfing, and many mobile websites and apps lack the full functionality that traditional websites offer.

Click here to view the Top Web Sites.

However, we do realize that the growth of the market for iPhones, Android smartphones and tablet computers (e.g., the iPad) is changing the way users are interacting with content. In response, we’ve added a new section in this year’s guide that lists the best financial apps (applications).

For the second consecutive year, the guide includes boxes listing the websites that the AAII staff use personally. These lists not only name the websites, but also detail the specific features we like and why we use the sites. You will also see boxes highlighting our favorite features of AAII.com and our favorite financial Twitter feeds.

The first section of the guide presents a categorical listing of our picks for Best of the Net. The second section provides an alphabetical listing of individual websites, with information about the features we find particularly useful and how to find the content and tools within each site. The online version of this guide includes hyperlinks to all of the top sites.

The Best of the Net Ratings

AAII awards a Best of the Net rating to sites that provide investment information or service that, in our view, is both useful and substantial to individual investors and available either for free or for a reasonable price.

Most sites provide the information or service that we are reviewing free of charge. Some offer basic information for free and charge various rates for more in-depth data or expanded services. In the alphabetical listings, we show the lowest and highest rates to give you an idea of the range; visit the sites for complete details on pricing.

Some types of sites not included here are covered in other AAII venues: broker sites are investigated annually in Computerized Investing, mutual fund family sites are listed in AAII’s annual Guide to the Top Mutual Funds, and exchange-traded fund (ETF) sponsor sites appear in the annual Guide to Exchange-Traded Funds. You can access these special articles year-round in the Investor Guides area of AAII.com.

Keep in mind that the Web is constantly evolving. Sites can change drastically in a short period of time. Be sure to verify the source of information or provider of a service. And read the fine print on pricing before agreeing to pay for any data or investment service.

Charles’ Favorite Web Resources

When researching a stock, I use these free websites to seek out information that cannot be found by merely analyzing financial statements.

SEC EDGAR
www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) publishes filings for publicly traded companies in its EDGAR system. I pay particular attention to Form 10-K, which is a company’s annual report and is a goldmine of information.

Seeking Alpha
www.seekingalpha.com

Seeking Alpha publishes quarterly conference call transcripts for many companies. These transcripts can offer a lot of insight into a how a company performed over the past quarter and what management thinks may happen in the future.

FreeStockCharts.com
www.freestockcharts.com

Even though I am a value investor, I always look at a stock’s price chart to make sure I have not missed anything with my analysis. The customizable charts on this website are easy to use, but offer enough tools to satisfy someone who wants to conduct detailed technical analysis.

MarketWatch.com
www.marketwatch.com

Many websites do a good job of providing updated news and commentary on individual stocks, so this is merely my personal preference. I like the way the site separates news articles and press releases on the quote pages for individual stocks.

—Charles Rotblut, CFA, vice president at AAII and editor of the AAII Journal

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John’s Favorite Web Resources

The Internet offers so many great investment resources that my favorites focus on the tools that I use to control the flow of information.

Google Reader
www.google.com/reader

Most investment sites offer an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed that alerts readers when information has been updated or newly published. By subscribing to an RSS feed, I am able to centrally follow news headlines and stories from a wide range of sites in an organized fashion. I like to use Google Reader (www.google.com/reader) to manage my RSS feeds. I can read the feeds on Google, but generally I use the NewsRack application (www.omz-software.de/newsstand) on my iPhone and iPad to scroll through my headlines, read interesting stories, save stories, and share stories with colleagues. I am currently following the feeds of AAII.com, CNNMoney.com, MarketWatch.com, Morningstar.com and The Wall Street Journal.

Instapaper
www.instapaper.com

I am always coming across interesting articles on the Web that I want to read later or save for reference. Instapaper has a service that allows you to mark pages to read later and stores that information in a centralized location. Beyond reading online, you can download and print your saved articles as well as format them for reading on your Kindle or other e-book reader. Smartphone and tablet apps provide access to optimized mobile versions of your saved Web pages.

CNBC Pro
www.cnbc.com

The CNBC website allows me watch CNBC TV on my computer and provides real-time data and alerts. Their great mobile app, CNBC Pro, alerts me to breaking news and allows me to track my portfolio (pro.cnbc.com).

Email
Many websites also offer helpful emails that push information to my inbox. For example, I get a daily email from Morningstar.com that lists the daily price action and news headlines for each of my holdings.

—John Bajkowski, AAII’s president

 

Using Twitter for Investing News and Ideas

Twitter is a useful resource for investors, despite its origins as a social networking service. It provides news in real time, and many posts contain links to full-length articles. The 140-character limit of a single post, called a “tweet,” forces writers to be pithy, which not only makes the posts interesting to read, but also easy to scan. Most importantly, since Twitter connects so many people, we are often alerted to insightful commentary that we would have otherwise missed.

Twitter is very simple to use. You do not have to write a single tweet if you don’t want to. In fact, you can read all of a person’s or company’s tweets simply by going directly to their Twitter page. For example, www.twitter.com/BloombergNow displays all of the headlines posted by Bloomberg News.

However, there are advantages to signing up for your own Twitter account. The biggest one is that you can create a list of the people and companies that you want to follow. This turns your Twitter page into your own personal news feed, which is simpler than visiting multiple Web pages to get the same information. You can also post questions and interact with other Twitter users. Finally, if you are so inclined, you can write your own tweets. Twitter is completely free.

In terms of investing, who you should follow depends on your interests. Investment-related tweets cover everything from a broad view of the market and the economy to specific information about an individual’s trades. To help you get started, here are some of the favorite twitter feeds among AAII staff.

Comprehensive

CBS MoneyWatch
twitter.com/cbsmoneywatch

CNN Money
twitter.com/CNNMoney

Investopedia
twitter.com/Investopedia

Marketplace
twitter.com/MktplaceRadio

SmartMoney
twitter.com/SmartMoney

StockTwits
twitter.com/stocktwits

Yahoo! Finance
twitter.com/YahooFinance

Financial News/Market Commentary

Bloomberg News
twitter.com/BloombergNow

Financial Times Alphaville
twitter.com/FTAlphaville

New York Times Business
twitter.com/nytimesbusiness

Reuters
twitter.com/Reuters

Wall Street Journal
twitter.com/WSJ

Economics and Bonds

Calculated Risk
twitter.com/calculatedrisk

The Dismal Scientist
twitter.com/dismalscientist

WSJ Real Time Economics
twitter.com/WSJ_Econ

AAII Twitter Accounts

Among the AAII staff, Wayne and Charles maintain Twitter pages. You can see a complete list of who they follow by going to their personal twitter pages and clicking on the “following” link on the right-hand side of the page.

Wayne A. Thorp
twitter.com/AAII_CI

Charles Rotblut
twitter.com/charlesrotblut

We also offer Twitter feeds with AAII content and other useful information.

AAII Invest Ed
twitter.com/AAII_Invest_Ed

AAII Stock Investor Pro
twitter.com/AAII_SIPro

 

 

Joe’s Favorite Web Resources

CNN Money
money.cnn.com

This remains my go-to website for financial news. On the right-hand side of the website, the last five viewed quotes and my watchlist are easily accessible, along with the most popular articles.

Yahoo! Finance
finance.yahoo.com

Yahoo! Finance lists the most recently searched quotes along with my portfolio on the right-hand side. Clicking on “View more top stories” from the home page gives me the archived top stories on the economy, stocks, bonds and earnings. I find this section useful when scanning for major events related to a big swing in the markets.

Wikinvest
www.wikinvest.com

I like Wikinvest as an online portfolio manager. The website automatically connects to my brokerage and retirement accounts and updates my holdings. The performances of my various accounts are available on the home page and performance is broken down in the performance tab.

—Z. Joe Lan, AAII’s assistant financial analyst

 

Wayne’s Favorite Web Resources

Investopedia
www.investopedia.com

I find this an excellent source for definitions of financial terms. In addition, the site has tutorials and articles broken down by investment level and style, such as Beginners, Active Traders and Retirement. The coverage is comprehensive.

StockCharts.com
www.stockcharts.com

Arguably the best charting website available and an excellent resource for free point & figure charts; it’s my favorite chart analysis tool. In addition, the site’s Chart School is an excellent starting point for those wishing to learn more about charting and technical analysis.

Twitter
www.twitter.com

By following a variety of investment professionals and hobbyists, I am exposed to numerous investment articles that I otherwise would not find on my own.

SmartMoney.com
www.smartmoney.com

With so many websites scaling back on their financial statement data, SmartMoney.com offers 15 quarters (and 10 years) of detailed income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement data.

Morningstar.com
www.morningstar.com

The Premium subscription gives me top-notch portfolio tracking and stock and mutual fund screening tools, along with excellent investment insights and analyst reports.

—Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, AAII senior financial analyst and editor of Computerized Investing

 

Staff Picks: Favorite Areas of AAII.com

AAII Investor Classroom
www.aaii.com/classroom

This is a great “how-to” resource, and I constantly refer members to it. The various lessons cover everything from managing risk and return expectations to evaluating dividend stocks. Best of all, it is very easy to find guidance on a specific investing topic.

—Charles Rotblut

Stock Investor Wiki & Videos
www.aaii.com/siprowiki/index.cfm
www.aaii.com/stock-investor-pro/videotutorials

Stock Investor Pro can be daunting without proper guidance, and our wiki and videos are great resources. Specifically written to help users familiarize themselves with the program, the wiki covers all the main sections of SI Pro and highlights their key functions and capabilities. Best of all, the wiki is collaborative: Users can submit their own input and suggestions. New SI Pro videos are posted monthly as a complement to the SI News email.

—Joe Lan

AAII Discussion Boards
www.aaii.com/boards

This is an excellent way for AAII members to interact with one another without having to leave their homes! Pose questions to other members on a variety of topics or offer your insights on member q

—Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

AAII Stock Screens
www.aaii.com/stock-screens

The stock screens area offers both education and investment ideas for members looking to construct and manage a stock portfolio. The area profiles over 50 strategies grouped by investment style. Members can read about factors that make each approach unique, see how a hypothetical portfolio following each approach has performed during various market environments, and even get a listing of stocks passing each screen.

—John Bajkowski


Discussion

Martin from NJ posted over 2 years ago:

A really great website that I didn't see listed here is FinViz.com (Financial Vizualizations). FinViz provides a number of very well organized color heat maps and bubble diagrams that are updated throughout the trading day giving investors a wonderful overview of the market by segment. Their focus is mainly technical. Their stock screener is top notch. Best of all it's free to register.

Marty


Charlie from TX posted over 2 years ago:

Yes I agree Finviz is what I use to do my search it has more fields to include in the search than any other search program that I have found. Plus it's free.


Jim from TX posted over 2 years ago:

Another great website I am surprised is not listed in "Best of the Net" is QuantumOnline.com. It gives an excellent listing and easy to use screen for preferred stocks and and other exchange listed income securities. Its easy to use and gives enough details to well inform about the securities.It's the best I've found for preferred stocks.


James from GA posted over 2 years ago:

Too bad you don't differentiate between web sites that provide downloadable data and/or complete transparency as to methods used to develop opinions.

Also, it would be useful to break down the web sites into the broad categories (by type of information sought) SUCH AS (E)conomic, Stock (M)arket, (S)ector and Industry, (C)ompany analytic categories of fundamental (balance sheet, income statement, cash flow, general, etc.), technical (price and volume data), analytical (ratio, sector, and economic measures), and quantitative (mathematical and engineering tools and methods).

My stock trading system uses the acronym EMSCAN (stole the concept from CANSLIM) to stand for Economy, Market, Sector, Company Analytical, Nexus/Nisus. Bet 99 out of 100 have no clue what Nisus means.


Michael from KS posted over 2 years ago:

I'd like to see an article or 1st Cut on OPACC(Operating Profit After Capital Charge).


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