Research is a major key to successful investing. And a big part of research in today’s Internet-centric investment environment is reading a variety of investment websites, e-letters and blogs to gauge the opinion of various experts on a given stock, sector or investment idea.
We at Financial Freedom Federation browse a variety of investment websites on a daily basis in addition to our proprietary research. In this special report, I’d like to share some of our favorite investment sites with you!
In the interest of teaching you how to become a better investor, I have compiled a list of the best investment sites recommended by our nine expert advisors, broken down into four general categories: Education, Research & Analysis, News and Tools. Lastly, I include a section on investment sites for small-cap investment research.
Let’s get started!
Cabot Wealth Network: cabotwealth.com
Any list of the best investment sites has to start with the one you’re currently reading, right?!
Cabot’s website contains a wealth of free information describing our investment advisories and expert analysts, showcasing our latest stock picks and providing a daily market update. The education section has valuable information on such topics as Stock Market Analysis, Market Timing, Selling Stocks, Technical Analysis and many others. Additional information is available on Growth Investing, Value Investing, Emerging Markets, Options Trading and Small-Cap Stocks.
AAII Investor Classroom: www.aaii.com/classroom
Contains various lessons covering everything from managing risk to evaluating dividend stocks. Best of all, you can easily find guidance on a specific investing topic. The cost to join is $29 a year.
This is 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. Free.
Research & Analysis
Security analysis falls into two broad categories: fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis involves analyzing the characteristics of a company in order to estimate its value. The process includes examining a company’s financial statements and financial health, its management and competitive advantages, and its competitors and markets.
By contrast, technical analysis focuses on price and volume activity of a stock. In its purest form, technical analysis assumes that all the fundamental factors of a company are reflected in the price of its stock. Technical analysis studies the market supply and demand in an attempt to identify where a stock’s price will go in the future.
AAII Stock Screens: www.aaii.com/stock-screens
The Stock Screens area on the AAII site offers both education and investment ideas for members looking to construct and manage a stock portfolio. The area profiles more than 60 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 access stocks filtered by each screen. The cost of an annual membership is $29.
For pre-digested dividend information, such as how many years in a row a stock has increased its dividend, this site is a great resource. It’s also one of the most reliable and up-to-date sources of ex-dividend dates and payment dates.
Earnings Whispers: www.earningswhispers.com
A good place to find quarterly and full-year earnings estimates on all your holdings. Free.
EDGAR Online: http://i-metrix.edgar-online.com/
Another interactive charting tool is on the I-Metrix website by EDGAR Online. The homepage shows all the new SEC filings for that day, but if you click on the “Company” tab and enter your ticker symbol of choice, you’ll be directed to the company’s “Summary” page, which gives you the company’s basic info. In the upper right, you’ll see a little chart image. Click on it and you get a nice clean charting tool. The nice thing about this website is it also provides the basic company info for free, as well as access to recent SEC filings, all in one ad-free spot. All items without a lock icon are free.
Another stock screener. It has a free version, which is very good, and a paid version is available. The best screener we’ve seen since MSN eliminated theirs.
Morningstar.com is a reliable source for fundamental stock data including historical data, financial statements and price data for individual companies. Morningstar is also the leading source for mutual fund and ETF data, offering a wide range of performance information. The site also includes a comprehensive screener and mutual fund ratings. The basic service is free, which includes five years of data. The premium service ($189/yr.) offers 10 years of data and comprehensive research tools including portfolio tracking, analysis and optimization.
Seeking Alpha: www.seekingalpha.com
Seeking Alpha publishes quarterly conference call transcripts for many companies. These transcripts can offer insight into a company’s performance over prior quarters and management’s outlook for the future. Registration is free.
Many sites offer price charts, but StockCharts is more advanced with additional charting options, educational content and extensive technical analysis. A favorite of Cabot small-cap expert Tyler Laundon, StockCharts also offers a broad collection of scans for technical conditions, including candlestick and point & figure patterns. Free real-time price charts. The basic service is free; premium service is $19.99/month.
The site provides a stock screener, sorting capabilities, charting, individual company information, technical data and a portfolio tracker. The basic service is free, but a premium subscription allows you to download data into a spreadsheet at $250/year.
Zacks Investment Research: www.zacks.com/earnings
Offers comprehensive data for more than 5,000 companies, including sales and earnings estimates, revisions and past surprises. The basic free service offers lots of information; the premium service includes even more at $249/year.
Barron’s includes its own articles, and articles from some other good investment sites—The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and MarketWatch. A subscription is required to read the actual articles from Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal. The $52 per year introductory rate is well worth the money.
Bloomberg offers extensive economic, business and stock market news plus live streaming video. The site also carries a comprehensive economic calendar. Free.
CNNMoney aggregates news articles from a variety of credible sources along with fundamental and technical data for each query. The site does a good job of highlighting breaking news. Free.
Another good company news website. MarketWatch features articles from leading sources including WSJ.com, Barron’s, TheStreet.com and Seeking Alpha. The site also contains company press releases to give you “unfiltered” news about a company as well as articles with an analytical slant. Marketwatch also provides historical stock prices with charts. Free.
Social media certainly has its drawbacks. But in 2017, it’s the fastest way to get your news. If you have the stomach to create an account, both of these sites can be great sources of news. As the name suggests, Stocktwits is a stock market-specific version of Twitter. So if getting more up-to-date information about your investments is your lone reason for creating an account, that’s probably the better bet.
Here’s what Jacob Mintz, our options trading expert and our most social-media savvy analyst, had to say about both sites:
“The two websites I check regularly to get a sense for trader sentiment, and which stocks traders are watching, are Twitter and StockTwits. While these social media sites are not the places to go to get PE ratios and dividend information, they do a great job of highlighting trending stocks. Also, because of the speed of social media, Twitter beats traditional media sources, such as Bloomberg and CNBC, to world events and stock stories, more times than not.”
Yahoo is one of the best investment sites for industry and sector news. The site also offers the top business news, company briefs and personal finance. Type in a ticker symbol, and you will receive a current quote, flexible chart, message boards and the latest news on your company. Free.
This site features up-to-date rate comparisons for bank accounts, CDs, mortgages, credit cards and insurance. Bankrate also offers extensive collection of personal finance calculators, income tax resources and tools. Free.
Dividend History: http://www.nasdaq.com/quotes/dividend-history.aspx and https://www.dividendchannel.com/
Discount Brokerage Research Websites
Brokerage account sites offer research on stocks and mutual funds from third-party services. While the research offerings differ, most top discount brokers give their customers free access to research reports from companies such as Morningstar, Thomson Reuters and Standard & Poor’s. Free with brokerage account.
Economic Calendar: https://finance.yahoo.com/calendar/economic.
Use for economic news, such as unemployment numbers, housing stats, production changes and sentiment readings. Free.
Free Real Time: www.freerealtime.com
Gives free real-time stock quotes and market news.
Investor Relations Websites
Simply type the company’s name or ticker symbol followed by “investor relations” in a search engine such as Google. The investor relations section of a company’s website can offer a large amount of information including presentations, annual reports, dividend history, press releases and calendar of upcoming events. Free.
Sector Returns: https://us.spindices.com/additional-reports/all-returns/index.dot?parentIdentifier=b3a06701-8feb-4ca1-ac99-ce0d61acf409&sourceIdentifier=index-family-specialization&additionalFilterCondition=
Excellent source for which sectors and strategies are hitting their prime.
This news site also features write-ups on individual stocks that go into much greater depth about the details of a company’s business plan. It will also give competitors and other valuable information.
Best Investment Sites for Small-Cap Research
Small-cap stocks are a different animal. By definition, the companies are smaller, less mature and therefore have less coverage, so finding the good ones can require quite a bit of digging. Fortunately, deep-diving for small-company gems happens to a specialty of our small-cap investing expert, Tyler Laundon.
Here’s all you need to know about Tyler’s small-cap investing credentials: eight of the 13 current positions in his Cabot Small-Cap Confidential advisory portfolio are winners, with an average return of 84% – even after the 30% March cratering in the S&P 500!
Finding that many small-cap winners is anything but easy, but here are a few ideas from Tyler Laundon on where to find the best small-cap research.
Best Investment Sites for Getting Creative
Many of the best small-cap investment ideas come from random sources: a conversation, a passing glance at something or a magazine article. A lot of things can set off alarm bells that inspire you to find stocks to play the trend.
This approach requires a completely different tool than your standard stock screener. The best free tool Tyler has found is the SEC’s advanced full-text search tool. The tool lets you search SEC filings by keywords, then gives you a list of all filings in which that keyword has shown up over the last four years. It’s worth reviewing the tool’s FAQ page to understand how the search works so you can generate relevant results. For instance, if you search for “cloud software,” you’ll get a gazillion results with stocks all over the market cap spectrum. But if you search for “cloud AND software AND biotechnology,” and limit the filings searched to 10-Ks, you’ll get results that are much more specific to a certain concept.
Idea generation for small-cap stocks is inherently time-consuming. Make sure you know that going in, and set aside a reasonable amount of time. And remember, the more specific your search criteria is, the faster you’ll be to find relevant results.
Once you have a dozen or so stocks that seem intriguing, you need to dig deeper. Is it a buy now? Maybe a buy later? Or a no way in hell am I touching this thing! You need to do technical and fundamental analysis to figure it out.
Best Investment Sites for Technical Analysis/Charting Tools
There are so many charting tools out there that you’ll have no problem finding a good free one (if you haven’t already). But speed is critical, and I find that the more windows I have open the longer it takes me to move through stock analysis. This is especially true when using a lot of free websites that are supported by advertisements that slow things down. I almost always go with the fastest website that gets the job done and presents the chart clearly. Two options stand out.
The first is stockcharts.com, which as we mentioned earlier is a pure technical charting tool. It’s my favorite.
The second is interactive charting tool on the I-Metrix website. The homepage shows all the new SEC filings for that day, but if you click on the “Company” tab and enter your ticker symbol of choice, you’ll be directed to the company’s “Summary” page, which gives you the company’s basic info.
In the upper right, you’ll see a little chart image. Click on it and you get a nice clean charting tool. The nice thing about this website is it also provides the basic company info for free, as well as access to recent SEC filings, all in one ad-free spot (the left sidebar has the navigation menu, and all items without a lock icon are free).
SEC Filings, Transcripts and Company Presentations
If a stock passes my high level technical and fundamental analysis check, I’ll add the stock to my “do more research” list. When I do more research, I rely on four sources. The first is SEC filings like 10Ks and 10Qs. These have all the juicy details on the company, including what it does and how well it’s doing it, what the risks are, details on financial performance and all kinds of other information. I usually find these in one of three locations; the company’s Investor Relations website, directly from the SEC.gov Company Filings website or from I-Metrix (select “All Filings” from the left-side navigation bar).
Two other useful resources for valuable tidbits are earnings call transcripts and company presentations. Seeking Alpha is a great source for free earnings call transcripts (search by ticker first then select the “Earnings,” then “Transcripts” tab. And if you navigate to the Investor Relations website for most publicly traded companies, they’ll have a recent company presentation available that gives a decent overview of what they do and their financial performance. These websites will also have a replay of the most recent earnings conference call available if you want to listen to it.
Lastly, I think it’s handy to see what analysts that are following a stock are saying. I find MarketBeat.com Analyst Ratings to be a good free resource for this. You have to close a couple of pop up adds, which gets annoying. But you can enter the desired ticker symbol and the site will tell you what the current analyst ratings are, and often what their price targets are. And of course, the “Analyst” tab on Yahoo! Finance is good for looking at analyst estimates in terms of dollar value and growth rate for the current quarter, next quarter, current year and next year.
As you can see, there are plenty of good options out there. Which of these investment-site recommendations you end up using depends on what type of investor you are. To fully research a stock, you should sample one or two sites from each of our four general categories.
Thanks to the internet, and so much valuable investment information being just a mouse click away, investing on your own has never been more doable. You just need to know where to look. We hope this report helps steer you in the right direction.