As I was reviewing sites for this issue’s Best of the Net guide, I stopped to think about how the much the Web has evolved—not so much in technological terms, but in actual usefulness.
When I created my first site (as a hobby) in 1995, there was not much on the Web. Yahoo! was only a few months old. Researching financial and industry data meant having access to a Bloomberg terminal, using a LexisNexis machine or reading through print publications. Since that time, the amount of information available on the Internet has increased exponentially, as you well know.
Of course, a lot of data is worthless if it is not in a format that is easy to access and use—and this where the Web continues to improve. Several financial and economic sites are maintaining features that are pretty simplistic, but extremely helpful, such as Econoday’s economic calendar. Others, such as SmartMoney.com, have done a great job of incorporating multi-media, thereby giving users content in the formats they personally prefer.
Then there are innovations we weren’t even thinking about just five years ago, such as Twitter. Though it has a reputation as a vehicle that enables people to post minutiae about their lives, it has become a very useful tool for investors. This is why I coordinated with Wayne Thorp, editor of Computerized Investing, to create a special section on Twitter in this year’s guide. You can see it here.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention AAII.com. Our website was completely redesigned this year and is now even easier to use. Nonetheless, I realize that it is a big site with features that many of you may not know exist. This is why I asked Wayne, AAII President John Bajkowski, and our new assistant financial analyst, Joe Lan, to highlight some of the tools they really like. You can see our suggestions here.
Another new section you will find in this year’s guide is a list of our personal favorite spots on the Internet. These are investing websites, blogs and tools that we use on a daily basis. (For example, both Wayne and I read the Wall Street Breakfast column on SeekingAlpha.com daily. I can personally attest that it goes quite well with a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal.) You will find our favorite resources scattered throughout the guide.
The guide itself starts here. We list the top websites by category in the front section of the guide, and then provide details on each site here. Some new sites were added this year, though several old favorites gave us reason to include them once again.
Even as the Web continues to change, many investment concepts have not. One of those is efficient market theory, which holds that stock prices reflect all known information. To determine if this theory is valid, Georgetown University professor Prem Jain looked at academic studies and the writings of Warren Buffett. You can read Jain’s thoughts on the theory here.
In addition to wanting stocks with rising prices, many of you continue to inquire about dividend-paying stocks and other income-generating investments. If you are in this group, there are two articles that should interest you. The first is this month’s First Cut column, which focuses on dividend-paying stocks. John Bajkowski created a screen that indentifies companies that have both raised their dividends and maintained positive free cash flow during the past seven years. You can see a list of the stocks that made the cut here.
The second article discusses the latest addition to our Model ETF Portfolio, an exchange-trade fund (ETF) that tracks a master limited partnership (MLP) index. As AAII Founder James Cloonan explains, the advantage of this ETF is that it provides exposure to MLPs while offsetting the potential tax headaches of holding such securities in an IRA account. You can find the name of the fund as well as useful portfolio rebalancing and allocation guidelines here.
Wishing you prosperity,
Charles Rotblut, CFA
Editor, AAII Journal