The Web's best financial sites

February 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

Improve your financial health via the Internet.

How are you investing and keeping track of your earnings? If you have access to the Internet, you may want to do so by using the World Wide Web. This article is a guide to financial sites worth visiting.

Still tracking your financial portfolio the old-fashioned way, scanning the tiny type in the newspaper each morning? Want a faster way to stay current that's easier on the eyes - plus gives you up-to-the-minute news, market analysis, even annual reports?

Visit a financial site on the World Wide Web. The best ones track market indicators, individual stocks, mutual funds, bonds and other investments. Some even allow you to monitor your own portfolio and will send you, via e-mail, news that could affect it.

First, you'll need an account with an Internet service provider or an on-line service like America Online or CompuServe. Now you're set to tap into the Web - your gateway to thousands of resources for financial planning.

We narrowed the field to 13 sites that seem most worth your time. They're all functional, informative and, except where indicated, free.

CNNfn

http://www.cnnfn.com

Just click on "markets," then "U.S. stock markets," to track the biggest gainers and losers, and the most actively traded stocks. The site also allows you to access Lipper Mutual Fund Report (click on "your money"), where you'll find recent performance and price information on more than 5,000 U.S. mutual funds.

FinancialWeb

http://www.financialweb.com

Visit this site if you're big on small caps. A whole section is devoted to them and it includes news on initial public offerings, charts and research reports and links to Web sites of small companies. There's a monthly stock tip, too; PTI Holding, which makes safety gear for cyclers and skaters, was a recent recommendation. You can also monitor the collective might of stocks in particular sectors, from airlines to utilities.

Coming soon: access to free annual reports and an on-line "chat room" for investment junkies.

FreeEDGAR

http://www.freeedgar.com

The place to go if you want to plow through the SEC filings of a company you're thinking of investing in. You'll find enough balance sheets, income statements and exhibits to keep you up half the night. (Or, depending on your view, to induce sleep.)

Be warned, however, that some of the files are huge and may take a long time to download.

INVEST-O-RAMA

http://www.investorama.com

Home to some 4,300 links to other Web sites. Want to visit your mutual fund company but don't know the address? Click on the directory, then "mutual funds online" to find an exhaustive list. The directory is also your springboard to sites for brokerage and investment firms.

Recent articles posted here have covered mutual-fund diversification, tax tips and long-term market strategies.

InvestorNet

http://www.researchmag.com/investor:htm

Take a minute to register your name and password with InvestorNet, then zoom around to find some of the most detailed stock information anywhere on the Web. For example, we looked at Kmart, the national retail chain. Up popped the current price , the previous close and the high and low for the day, followed by historical price information. Best yet, there were earnings estimates and an analyst consensus for Kmart, which advised investors to hold their shares. The site also features links to reports on competitors like Wal-Mart and Ames.

If you're a serious investor, you'll love InvestorNet's stock screens, which can find an equity in a sea of ticker tape, based on the parameters you set.

Money Online

http://www.pathfinder.com

A good source for retirement planning. It even includes a calculator to help you determine whether you'll have enough to live your sunset years in luxury. Money Online also has model portfolios for retirees; 65-year-olds are given a list of eight stock and bond mutual funds, along with performance records and toll-free numbers.

The site offers far more detailed content than what you'll find in the magazine's print version. For instance, a report on four-year colleges includes fact sheets on 1,346 schools. (Best fact: the phone number of the school's financial-aid office.) Your child isn't ready to go to college yet? Use Money Online's calculator to see how much you'll have to save each year to cover Junior's higher education when the time comes.

Moody's Investors Service

http://www.moodys.com

The crusty bond-rating firm offers timely reports on upgrades and downgrades. Want to know what actions were taken in the banking industry yesterday, or over the past three days? You'll find the answers here.

There's also a subscription-based service - Moody's Company Data Direct - offering minutiae on more than 10,000 publicly traded U.S. companies, including balance sheets, income statements, long-term debt and information on subsidiaries, officers, auditors, stock splits, price ranges and annual meetings.

The Motley Fool

http://www.fool.com

Dedicated to stocks (even mutual funds are excluded), The Motley Fool is for the do-it-yourselfer who hates paying commissions. But if you have no intention of flying solo, there's plenty here you can call to your broker's attention. The Daily Double, for instance, features a stock whose price has more than doubled in the past year - plus the story of how you could have spotted the opportunity, and whether you should take a piece of the action now.

NASDAQ

http://www.nasdaq.com

Despite its sponsor, this site isn't limited to stocks traded on the Nasdaq; any stock or mutual-fund ticker symbol is searchable, revealing highs, lows, share volume and the like.

The Nasdaq site also offers market updates from Reuters news service. And for the painfully curious, there are links to the Web sites of seldom-heard-of domestic markets like the Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange, and to the Web sites of foreign exchanges in Athens, Budapest, Caracas, Ghana, Kuwait and Sydney, among others.

NETworth

http://networth.quicken.com

Courtesy of Intuit, maker of the popular line of Quicken financial software, NETworth features "Fund Search" which allows you to set research parameters for mutual funds. For example, we asked for all large-cap growth funds with net assets between $250 million and $500 million that require an initial purchase of $1,000 to $3,000 and that boast five-year annualized returns of 10% to 15%. After not more than a minute, voilà! We had a fund that met our requirements: Pasadena Growth Fund-Class A.

The Wall Street Journal

http://update.wsj.com

Enjoy clipping financial articles but sometimes forget to? Maybe you can't remember when an article ran, or who published it. Fret no more. For $49 a year ($29 if you subscribe to the print Journal or Barron's), you can access more than 3,600 sources of business information, including newsletters, transcripts and Barron's weekly market commentary. You can also create a customized service that gives you the news affecting your investments.

Among the goodies for visitors to the site who don't wish to pay for a link to the publications library: expert commentary on mutual funds, global investing, plus access to free company reports. Answer a few questions about your stock-trading habits and the reports you select will be mailed the next business day.

Zack's Investment Research

http://www.zacks.com

Another site that's part free, part subscription-based. In the freebie section, click on "free research," then "quotes & charts" for daily, weekly and monthly charts on any publicly traded stock. The site also has a link to Analyst Watch on the Internet, which promises investors "advance knowledge of stock movement through E-mail alerts, screening and company reports." PR

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