Web sites for investment research and education | VailDaily.com

Web sites for investment research and education

Investing Wisely

Every year at this time the American Association of Individual Investors comes out with a comprehensive review of and its recommendations for what the organization considers the best Web sites for investment information.If you are a member of the American Association of Individual Investors (see their Web site http://www.aaii.com or call (312)280-0170) you get this 36-page special supplement in the September issue of the “AAII Journal.” Both the Vail and Avon public libraries carry this publication in their periodicals sections.There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Web sites with financial and investment data. The American Association of Individual Investors does extensive research to come up with their picks, which focus on those sites that are “useful to individual investors and available either free or for a reasonable price.”Using the American Association of Individual Investors’ selections, here are my choices:• Yahoo! Finance (www.finance.yahoo.com): This is a comprehensive site with financial news, articles and all the necessary tools for selecting and monitoring stocks and mutual funds. It’s free and user-friendly. If you had to pick just one investment Web site to work with, this would be a good choice.• Morningstar.com (www.morningstar.com): Some of this site is free, but the really substantive material on stocks and mutual funds requires “premium” membership, which costs $115 a year. This latter service is extremely valuable – it covers 2,000 mutual funds and 1,000 stocks with in-depth analyses and provides educational courses, investing tools and articles on a wide range of investing issues.• CNBC on MSN Money (www.moneycentral.msn.com): This site’s “research wizard” allows you to prepare a comprehensive “company report,” which, among other items, includes a company profile, a detailed stock quote, earnings estimates, current analyst opinions, historical stock data, and financial statement information, all neatly packaged in one report.• MarketWatch (www.cbs.marketwatch.com): While the American Association of Individual Investors puts this Web site in the “stock data” category, I use it almost exclusively for daily financial and investment news, which is very comprehensive. Also, the MarketWatch columnists write excellent topical investment articles.Other sitesIn addition to the above core investment Web sites, there are three others that I have found to be useful:• IndexFunds (www.indexfunds.com): As the name implies, this Web site focuses on index mutual funds and exchange-trade funds (ETFs). Here you’ll find commentary, educational articles and a wealth of investment data related to the aforementioned fund types.• Invest in REITs (www. investinreits.com): This site is sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and has a strong educational slant for real estate investment trusts (REITs). Since this is a relatively new investment vehicle for many individual investors, the site is a valuable source of information. The site also has direct links to real estate investment trust stock home pages.• CNN/Money (www.money.cnn.com): With the very large universe of personal finance Web sites, CNN/Money is a good choice. It provides all the personal-finance basics you can possibly imagine, along with an array of “calculators” and planning tools. In printBecause of the overwhelming abundance of investment information available over the Internet, individual investors need to be very selective and focused on what they need to know as opposed to what’s nice to know. The American Association of Individual Investors’ special supplement on top investment Web sites helps us to sort out this dilemma.In addition to these sources of investment information, I would take the opportunity here to repeat my recommendation to individual investors to become regular readers of these financial columns, which are available on the Internet:• Scott Burns, Dallas Morning News – http://www.dallasnews.columnists.• Jeff Brown, Philadelphia Inquirer – http://www.philly/business/columnists/jeff_brown• Jonathan Clements (and others) in the Wall Street Journal’s online Weekend edition – http://www.sunday.wsj.com.To be better informed is to be better prepared to make rational investment decisions.The Investing Wisely column is written by Richard Loth, managing principal of Mentor Investing and an independent registered investment adviser. Loth can be reached at 328-5591 or mentor@centurytel.net.Vail, Colorado