The one thing investors need is information. There are several ways to get it, especially on the Internet. But don't stop there. Plenty of other resources are available.
If you're doing homework on a company, the places to start for good, basic information are listed below. These aren't all inclusive. But they're a good sample. Also, many of the statistics are not updated frequently, sometimes only every quarter. Be sure you know how old the data are you're looking at. Finally, the most up to date news on a company is usually listed just below any quote.
Yahoo!Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com) There are a great many statistics here, ranging from analysts opinions to their earnings expectations to how many shares trade on average each day to the number of shares short. The links are all on the left side of the page when you get a quote on the stock.
AOL Personal Finance (keyword: pf) Request a quote and the data will appear in links that are at the top of the quote page. Many of those pages only have basic information. For more depth, there are links to sites such as Thompson Financial which has data for several years on a stock. Many users don't click on the Related Resources that offer plenty of good information.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (www.sec.gov) Put in a stock symbol and marvel at the information. You can look at all the filings a company has to make with the SEC, from quarterly reports to sales by insiders to annual reports. Some of it is difficult to decipher because of the numbers used for the various filings, but work through them and you'll find lots and lots of information on your stock.
The companies themselves. Most companies have a website these days. The most common web address is the name of the company itself or its ticker symbol. You'll find the latest press releases from a company, the next conference call that you can listen to or a webcast of the quarterly report where analysts (and investors) ask questions. You'll also find the phone number and address for the company as well as an email address (for most of them) that you can send your questions. If you call a company, ask for the investor relations department. That's their purpose: to give information to investors. Sometimes you can talk to the president or chairman if you can't get the answers anywhere else.
Other good sources with many of the above attributes and some unique data:
Benzinga (www.benzinga.com) for a compilation of news, information, and education.
The New York Stock Exchange (www.nyse.com)
Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com) Yes, this is the mayor of New York's site. Before he was the mayor, he invented a great program for institutional investors and traders that has some information available to the public. Good, concise place for certain data.
CNN Money (www.money.cnn)
Reuters (www.investor.reuters.com) Lists "Risk alerts" for the day, screening for stocks, and many other programs.
ValueLine (www.valueline.com) The print version is available for free at any library in the reference department. This valuable resource has great historical information that is hard to find other places.
Investor's Business Daily (www.investors.com)Excellent daily newspaper that focuses on small to mid-cap companies.
The Wall Street Journal The standard for business newspapers. Has a great online version (http://online.wsj.com)
Forbes Magazine (www.forbes.com) Covers the spectrum of companies with a bent toward the entrepreneurs.
Business Week Magazine (businessweek.com)General business.
Fortune Magazine (www.fortune.com) Focus is on the large cap companies.
Do you have a favorite you'd like to share with other OLI readers? I'll be happy to dedicate another column giving those websites and their attributes.
- Ted Allrich (firstname.lastname@example.org)
April 24, 2012