Figuring out which stocks to invest in and when to buy and sell is one of the most essential components of trading. So, it should come as little surprise that there are thousands of services that offer investors different ways to research stocks and find new companies to trade. Identifying which of these tools are the most helpful for stock research and which fit your trading style can be hard. To help, we’ll explore what you need to look for in the best stock research websites and highlight five of our favorite services.
- Types of Stock Research Platforms
- What to Look for in a Stock Research Website
Types of Stock Research Platforms
Stock research websites take a lot of different forms. Some services focus on recommending stocks that you can buy right now, while others take a more hands-off approach and simply give you a suite of tools that you can use to do your research. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the common differences between stock research websites.
Technical vs. Fundamental Research
Stock research websites typically use a combination of technical and fundamental information to recommend stocks, but most services lean heavily towards one or the other.
If you focus on short-term trading, technical research in the form of chart pattern identification and tools for technical analysis are likely to be most helpful to you. Technical research tools often offer advanced charts, alert features, and scanners with filters for common technical patterns. Technical tools can also draw in other information, such as insider trading, market sentiment, and analyst recommendations.
On the other hand, long-term investors may prefer fundamental research tools that focus on calculating fair value and identifying long-term industry trends. Many fundamental trading tools offer unique ways of visualizing key financial data and comparing it across companies within an industry. Many fundamental research services also use stock scanners, although the filter parameters may be more geared towards financial data than chart patterns.
Many stock research tools simply give you a suite of tools, which you can then use to explore stocks that are on your watchlist or that have been in the news. While many investors enjoy these “self-directed” tools, other investors find them to be overwhelming. Furthermore, stock research tools may be useless if you don’t have a formal process for finding stocks, analyzing companies, and timing your trades. This is where stock recommendation services come in.
Stock recommendation services (also known as stock picking services) actually name specific companies that are worth looking at based on either their technical or fundamental merit. These services do all of the research for you. You can rely on the research of a professional team instead of doing it yourself.
Stock recommendation services can be used for discovery, or to shortcut the research process by allowing you to hone in on potential picks. However, it’s important to understand why recommendations are made – some services focus on fundamentals and others look at technical patterns – and to use recommendation platforms as a starting point only. You will still need to do your own, additional research before purchasing a recommended stock
News and Discovery Tools
Financial news platforms are also important research tools for both short-term and long-term traders. News articles can help you discover potential new stocks to look into using other tools, or they could give recommendations about stocks worth a closer investigation. On top of that, there are numerous stock discovery tools that are simply algorithm-driven feeds of stocks that you might be interested in. These feeds can be based on your trading history, on stocks you keep on a watchlist, or on industries that you’ve indicated an interest in.
What to Look for in a Stock Research Website
When considering a stock research platform, it’s important to think about how it can help your trading. You should know what type of tool you are looking for. Are you looking for fundamental data, screeners, news, or stock picks?
A particular service should at the very least save you time by presenting actionable stock recommendations or cutting down on your search space for new investments. Importantly, the service should fit into your broader trading strategy – if you trade based on technical chart patterns, a stock research website that compares financial data across companies won’t be all that helpful to you. Most stock research websites offer trial periods so that you can not only test out the service, but also see how it fits into your trading style. Use these trials to your advantage to ensure that a stock research platform integrates nicely into your investing and adds to your profitability.
Motley Fool – Best for Stock Recommendations
The Motley Fool is a monthly stock newsletter with two recommendations per month. A service like Stock Advisor can save you a lot of time on stock research. You can rely on the company’s team of experienced analysts who do all of the work for you. This service has an incredible track record of picking winning stocks, with an average return 30% higher than the overall stock market for the past two years. This type of improved performance (when compared to broad market ETFs) can have major impacts on your long-term success. A 30% higher return would yield an extra $3,000 for every $10,000 invested. Compound that over time and you are in excellent shape. In addition to the monthly recommendations, the Motley Fool offers news and analysis of individual stocks and market sectors. This is a good starting point for additional research and provides some insight into whether a particular stock may be over-or undervalued. The Motley Fool offers news and analysis for free, but access to the monthly newsletter costs $19 per month or $99 per year.
Yahoo! Finance – Best for Basic Stock Research
Yahoo! Finance is one of the most widely used stock research platforms, and for good reason. The platform offers a ton of tools, from basic technical charts and financial data to portfolio analysis and stock screeners. On top of that, you can monitor stock news, discover gainers and losers within any major market industry, and track ETFs, currencies, and options. If you had to pick a single website to do all of your stock research, Yahoo! Finance would be a great choice. That said, in being broad, Yahoo! Finance doesn’t go that deep. There’s a ton of data on the platform, but not all of it is easy to access or visualize. We’d highly recommend using Yahoo! Finance as a starting point for quotes and market overviews, but less so as a platform for diving deep into technical analysis. Notably, while Yahoo! Finance has charts, there are relatively few technical patterns and indicators or customization features. Yahoo! Finance offers access to most of its tools for free. Yahoo! Finance Premium starts at $34.99 per month and unlocks access to additional financial data, more advanced technical charts, and portfolio analysis tools.
Zacks – Best for Analyst Ratings
Zacks is a stock research platform that focuses on identifying promising stocks through analyst ratings. The service offers a series of stock lists, with hundreds of stocks rated by analysts and categorized according to whether they are “value,” “growth,” “momentum,” or “income” stocks. The company also uses these ratings to develop stock screeners. Zacks’ screens combine a variety of fundamental and technical filters with stock categories and analyst recommendations to make it easier to identify promising stocks. The platform also focuses in on earnings reports, helping traders identify which stocks are primed for earnings surprises. Zacks offers news and basic research tools for free. Analyst recommendation lists and premium screens require Zacks Premium, which costs $249 per year.
FinViz – Best for Stock Scans
FinViz is a stock research website that offers a highly comprehensive stock scanner. Scanner parameters span the gamut of fundamental and technical metrics, so it’s possible to create some very advanced filters using this platform. In addition, FinViz is relatively unique in how it displays scan results. Scan results can be displayed not only in list form but also in customizable heatmaps and bubble charts so that you can examine specific fundamental and technical metrics about the stocks that fit your scan filters. Much of FinViz’s functionality is free to use, although data is delayed by up to three minutes. FinViz Elite gives you real-time data and additional charting features for $39.50 per month.
FinViz also offers some insightful visualization tools for sector performance and individual stock performance (using heatmaps).
YCharts – Best for Fundamental Analysis
YCharts is a unique platform for visualizing fundamental and financial data. You can design custom charts to look at how a company’s financials have changed over time or to compare financial metrics across multiple companies. The fundamental metrics included in YCharts go far beyond what most general company analysis websites provide – there are hundreds of statistics as well as digitized versions of companies’ income statements, balance sheets, and cash flows. In addition, YCharts makes it easy to find new stocks based on fundamental metrics with a comprehensive scanner. The platform also rates every stock based on its financial data, which makes the platform friendly for investors who are new to fundamental analysis. YCharts starts at $300 per month, which is definitely on the expensive side. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, Stock Rover is a great pick.
The best stock research website can help you save time and trade more profitably. However, no matter what research tool you use, it’s important to make sure that it fits fluidly into your existing trading strategy and is helping rather than hindering your investing. These five research platforms are some of our favorites and offer a good place for any trader to start research stocks.