Trawling for Investment Information on the Internet
There’s tons of useful investment data (and screening
tools) on the Internet. Here’s an idiosyncratic guide to
help sort out the wheat from the chaff
I’ve had a number of questions like this one:
“I’m trying to find company financial material for Japanese and European companies. I have a copy of the latest S&P 500 stock guide, but I can’t find a equivalent reference for European and Japanese companies.”
Luckily, the internet abounds with information. Indeed, the problem is not so much finding information as winnowing out the wheat from the chaff. So here are some guidelines for finding useful investment information on the internet.
Some of these suggestions will, no doubt, be blindingly obvious to you. But hopefully I can point you to a few investment gems you hadn’t known about before.
If you’re looking for information on a particular company, then you’ll probably want to start with its latest annual report. Say you want to get information on the Russian airline, Aeroflot. Simply Google “aeroflot” and the first result is the airline’s website, http://www.aeroflot.com/, where you can download the latest annual report.
(In case you’re wondering, the only significance in using Aeroflot as an example is that it starts with an “A.”)
While an annual report is a good start, you’ll probably want to find other sources of information about the company before making any decision.
One of the best sites I’ve come across for company information is http://www.corporateinformation.com/. Here you can access a wide variety of information about listed companies from all around the world.
Other useful sources are financial news sites like Reuters
But one of the best sources of raw data on international companies is in the United States.
The shares of thousands of international companies are traded on American stock exchanges in the form of ADRs (American Depository Receipts). To find out whether a particular company has an ADR, go tohttp://188.8.131.52/dr_directory.jsp? and search on the company name. For example, search there on Aeroflot and you’ll find it has an ADR.
A company that has an ADR must file information with the SEC. And generally, the company has to give the SEC far more information than it is required to disclose in its home market. All such SEC filings are available on line at Edgar,http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
Trawling for Companies
But what do you do if you don’t have a specific company in mind but you’re looking for a certain category of investments, like mining stocks, stocks with low P/Es, high dividend yields, or that meet some other criteria?
On some of the sites I’ve mentioned above, likehttp://www.corporateinformation.com/ andhttp://today.reuters.com/news/home.aspx, and The Financial Times’ website, http://www.ft.com, you can search for companies by various categories.
A Google search on “stock screener” offers a variety of possibly useful tools, some of them free (but most not). One example, suggested by a reader:http://www.digitallook.com/cgi- bin/digital/stock_screener.cgi, which covers ten markets including the US and UK.
Another useful source is stock exchange sites. Just search for “[country or city] Stock Exchange” and the website of the exchange should be near the top.
Aside from the obvious candidates like London (http://www.londonstockexchange.com/en-gb/), Australia (http://www.asx.com.au/), and New Zealand (http://www.nzx.com/), on the following sites you can get annual reports and other information in English:
Hong Kong Stock Exchange: http://www.hkex.com.hk/. You can find balance sheets & P&Ls of Hong Kong-listed companies, plus latest company reports and announcements. Most information is in English and Chinese.
Stock Exchange of Thailand:http://www.set.or.th/en/index.html.
Stock Exchange of Singapore: http://www.ses.com.sg/.
Johannesburg Stock Exchange: http://www.jse.co.za/.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of stock exchanges that offer information in English as well as the local language; just the first few that I chanced upon. (And, of course, not all companies will provide information in English as well as their local language.)
But not all stock markets offer information in English. For example, the Moscow Stock Exchange website (http://www.mse.ru/eng/) seems to be useful only if you speak Russian.
And if you’re looking for Japanese stocks,http://www.tse.or.jp/english/index.shtml comes up if you search for “Tokyo Stock Exchange.” But it doesn’t appear to be all that helpful. Even though there’s a search box where you can type in the company name or stock code, it never seemed to work when I tried it. Admittedly, I don’t know any Japanese stock codes which may be what you need.
Here are a couple of other sites for Japanese stocks that could be more heluseful:
Three Little-Known Google Search Tools
While there are thousands of investors and analysts who cover international investments in major financial centers like New York, London and Hong Kong, often the most intensive coverage of any stock comes from local sources.
But if you’re interested in, say, Australian or Indian stocks, how can you find such local sources?
In addition to its main site, http://www.google.com, Google has 147 dedicated country search sites. So you could go to Google’s Australian (http://www.google.com.au/) or Indian (http://www.google.co.in/) sites and search for web pages in just those countries.
At http://www.google.co.in/language_tools?hl=en, scroll down to the flags and you’ll find a list of all the available Google country sites.
Google also enables you to search the web by geographical region — Europe, Asia, the Middle East and so on. You’ll find that tool at http://www.google.com/Top/Regional/.
And once you’ve found an investment that interests you, you’ll want to keep up with developments. Google offers a service, called “Google Alerts,” that will notify you by email whenever there’s a new news item on any topic you care to specify. Just go to http://www.google.com/alerts to set up as many such alerts as you like.
That way, you won’t have to search the web every day for news on your investments: Google will do the job for you automatically.
Though newspapers are said to be in decline, they’re still great sources of information.
In the US it would be a mistake to overlook Investor’s Business Daily (http://www.investors.com/). Here are a few other financial and national newspapers from around the world:
Australia: The Australian Financial Review,http://www.afr.com.au
The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/
Hong Kong: The Standard, http://www.thestandard.com.hk/
The South China Morning Post, http://www.scmp.com
India: Business Standard, http://www.business-standard.com/
Times of India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
Malaysia: Business Times, http://www.btimes.com.my/
South Africa: Business Day, http://www.businessday.co.za
Financial Mail, http://free.financialmail.co.za/
And a news site: http://www.News24.co.za
UK: In addition to the Financial Times, mentioned above, the Investors Chronicle (published by the FT) is another source worth checking out: http://www.investors chronicle.co.uk/public/home.html
You can also subscribe to newspapers for email delivery athttp://www.newsstand.com and http://www.press display.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx. Interestingly, on the latter site you can view (without subscribing) stories from the participating newspapers; for example, business news from Canada from all Canadian newspapers.
You might wonder why, these days, you would want a physical copy of a newspaper. Well, let’s say you wanted to run through a complete list of stocks from a particular country, looking for stocks with low P/Es or some other common feature. Sometimes the simplest source of such a list is the stock tables of the local paper. Thanks to the internet, you can actually get that if you want it.
And then there are magazines, and trade journals as well…!
A Few Examples
Here are a few sites I’ve come across with local or regional investment analysis, examples of the kinds of useful sources you can find on the web:
Hong Kong. two sites that with news, information and analysis of both Hong Kong and other Asian stocks:
Quamnet: http://www.quamnet.com/fcgi-bin/index.fpl. For a tour of the site, go to http://hk.quamnet.com/ quamresearch/QRSiteTour/index.htm
For data on Australian stocks, try these two sites…
Canada: http://www.sedar.com/homepage_en.htm is a kind of SEC/Edgar equivalent, and appears to be a goldmine of information on Canadian stocks.
Gold and Mining Stocks
Bernhard Mast — who I profiled in The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett & George Soros — recommended the following sites for information on his specialty, gold and mining stocks:
For Technical Analysts
I’m no expert on technical analysis so I asked a friend of mine, who’s very successful using this approach, for his recommendations. Somewhat to my surprise, he told me that he mostly got his data from Yahoo! Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com/), which also has a number built-in charting features.
One program I’ve come across that you might find interesting is the Market Analyzer Starter. It has a variety of charting tools of interest to technicians. What makes it a bargain, though, is that there’s live price data feed from 26 equity markets, plus a variety of futures markets, for a one-time fee of $17. Check it out athttp://www.sharemarketinstitute.com/offers/ma_starter.php?
One other thing: this is far from a definitive guide. I feel that I’ve just touched the surface of what’s available, and hope that I’ve given you a few hints and some good ideas that will help you
Indeed, you probably have your own favorite sources of information that I probably haven’t mentioned. Let me know what they are and I’ll be happy to pass your comments on to other readers of Investors Edge.