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Stock Research - What You Need To Know and Where You Need To Go

Aug 17, 2007
For more than 100 years, Wall Street was the exclusive domain of the rich. Not only were stock trading commissions prohibitively high, but research was almost impossible for the average person to find.

You might be able to find some out-of-date stock research information at your local library, but up-to-date, real-time research data was something that cost thousands of dollars.

This was the paradigm on Wall Street for decades, but then came the internet. Not only did the web provide discounted commissions through online brokers, but also a plethora of informative stock research.

While reading books on the market, watching CNBC, and following the business press are all vital elements of any new investor's education, the most important thing to do before buying your first stock is research it thoroughly.

Thanks to the internet, research has never been easier to come by, or less expensive to access. In fact, most stock research is completely free of charge!

Stock Research - What To Look For

There are two basic elements of research - fundamental and technical.

Fundamental stock research involves examining a company's published financial documents. These include the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows.

Several web sites make this data available free of charge. Most have all three financial statements dating back three to five years for literally thousands of publicly traded companies. The best sites for fundamental research are Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money.

Technical stock research examines the price movements of the stock. Most technical analysis involves studying patterns in the charts of a stock's daily pricings. This form of research has certainly been made easier by modern technology, as in the past, technical analysts used to plot charts by hand.

Now you can find great charts for stock research on Yahoo! Finance, and Smartmoney.com. If you're willing to pay for your technical research, consider investors.com, which has a great service called Daily Graphs.

Other Sources of Stock Research - Newspapers and Magazines

SmartMoney is probably the best monthly magazine for research purposes. They frequently profile stocks and mutual funds in easy to understand terminology, and therefore, it's great for the novice investor.

Forbes is another great magazine for stock research. It is published bi-weekly, with about 1/3 of its pages devoted to the stock market. The politically sensitive should be forewarned, however, that Forbes has a very pronounced conservative bent. If you like your journalism free of partisanship, consider Fortune, which is also published every other week.

The Wall Street Journal is a daily newspaper, and probably the most famous source of research. It can be purchased on most newsstands for only $1.00 an issue, and it normally has promotions running that allow you to subscribe for much less than that. Despite the paper's New York City headquarters, daily delivery is available in all but the most remote U.S. locations.

But in all honesty, The Wall Street Journal pales in comparison to Investor's Business Daily (IBD), which is almost uniformly recognized as the best source of stock research for serious investors.

Although the paper's editorial pages are aggressively Republican, its reporting is geared towards the individual investor - whereas The Wall Street Journal's target audience is business executives.

Best of all, IBD publishes a special Monday edition (actually released on Saturday) that features detailed charts of its top 100 rated stocks.

Subscription Web Sites - Morningstar.com

As far as subscription web sites go, MorningStar (morningstar.com) is probably the most respected of all. It offers detailed research reports on over 1000 companies, in a simple, concise format.

Although MorningStar is best known for its mutual funds research, it is also a great source for research information. However, at $13.95 per month, it is a bit pricey - you could subscribe to SmartMoney magazine for an entire year at that price.

The good news is that there are a bevy of sources from which you can get your stock research. The bad news is that there might be a little too much of it. Whenever conducting research, be sure to consult at least two sources.

There are a lot of opinions out there, and in cyberspace especially, some investment opinions aren't worth the paper that they're not printed on.
About the Author
William Smith the author provides additional financial information on many subjects as well as the secret to his success in the market along with 5 Free power stock picks emailed daily so grab your Free subscription on his website at Stock Research (All is Free)
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