Retail investors have a wealth of information at their fingertips about the stock market.
Some might say they have too much. All the investing-related noise out there is simply impossible for the average lay investor to process.
This is especially true if you want to build and manage a diversified portfolio comprised mainly of individual stocks.
A bespoke portfolio requires far more legwork and attention than an auto-rebalanced robo-advisor portfolio comprised primarily of index funds. It requires access to reliable, expert-level sources of actionable information about publicly traded equities and equity markets.
Top Stock Market Investment Research Sites
These reputable stock market resources all offer a combination of breaking market and economic news, long-form analysis from experienced market participants, and powerful tools that empower you to perform your own due diligence on potential investments. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of each.
1. Motley Fool Stock Advisor
Motley Fool Stock Advisor is a premium Motley Fool product that’s been educating retail investors for 15 years.
Stock Advisor centers around recurring stock picks from Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner, who’ve called many of the past 20 years’ best buys, including Amazon, Netflix, Disney, and Booking.com.
The Gardners lay out an exhaustive case for each pick, including potential risks, and offer 24/7 monitoring so that you can act quickly to reduce exposure if and when facts change. They put real money behind their recommendations, and they’re transparent about their picks’ growth over time.
Stock Advisor also comes with a slew of value-added features, including:
- Best Buys Now, the Gardners’ time-sensitive bonus stock picks
- Starter Stocks, a rotating monthly list of 10 foundational stocks for new portfolios
- A vast knowledge base dating back 15 years, perfect for self-directed investors eager to learn
- Breaking market news and analysis
- Access to fellow subscribers and stock analysts through the members-only Stock Advisor community
During Stock Advisor’s three-month trial period, you’ll pay a pittance, and you can cancel for a 100% refund during the first 30 days. After the trial period ends, Stock Advisor is reasonably priced, with frequent promotions slashing the cost by 50% or more. Promotions are subject to change, however, so check Motley Fool’s website before you subscribe.
2. Motley Fool Rule Breakers
Motley Fool Rule Breakers is another Motley Fool Premium product. For serious investors with substantial assets, it’s well worth the sticker price.
Like Stock Advisor, Rule Breakers is built around exhaustively researched stock picks — in this case, two per month, both with detailed upside and downside cases laid out. Its value-adds include:
- Best Buys Now
- Starter Stocks
- Motley Fool’s premium knowledge base
- Access to a members-only community of subscribers and stock analysts
Rule Breakers costs roughly the same as Stock Advisor, though the introductory price is lower. Like Stock Advisor, it comes with a 30-day risk-free period, during which you can cancel your subscription for a 100% refund.
Morningstar Premium is a feature-rich research suite from one of the world’s most respected equities research firms. Its signature features are:
- A collection of Premium-only stock screeners anchored by Morningstar’s industry-leading research
- Premium-only ratings and valuations compiled by the Morningstar team
- Investment monitoring tools that help you assess overall portfolio quality and performance
After a 30-day free trial period, Morningstar Premium costs about double what Motley Fool charges for each of the two premium products featured above. You’ll pay less if you pay for multiple years upfront rather than paying monthly.
4. TIM ALERTS
Timothy Sykes is a charismatic day trader who claims he’s earned nearly $5 million in profits trading penny stocks. TIM ALERTS is an in-depth digest of Sykes’ trading picks and activities. It includes:
- Early delivery of Sykes’ daily PennyStocking newsletter, a list of the stocks he’s watching each day. Non-subscribers receive PennyStocking at 9am EST, just 30 minutes before the markets open. Subscribers get it an hour early.
- Near real-time trade emails alerting subscribers when Sykes’ makes a trade — ideal for quick-footed traders looking to replicate Sykes’ moves.
TIM ALERTS is not cheap. You’ll need to determine whether you can afford to invest enough to recoup your costs.
5. Seeking Alpha
Seeking Alpha is a content-rich resource for retail and professional investors. Although it started as a contributor-powered community for hobbyists, Seeking Alpha has professionalized over the years, and the news and analysis it delivers today are top-shelf stuff. In fact, much of it may go over the heads of those who aren’t well-versed in the technical aspects of equities investing and microeconomics.
Much of Seeking Alpha’s content is ungated and available to the general public, but the platform’s best stuff is largely reserved for paying subscribers. Your two plan options are:
- Seeking Alpha Essential. For about the cost of Morningstar Premium, Seeking Alpha Essential offers unlimited access to all proprietary Seeking Alpha stock and ETF analysis, unlimited access to earnings call transcripts and recordings — key sources of information about corporate decision-makers’ strategic thinking. Seeking Alpha Essential also includes more details about authors (so investors can evaluate their motivations and track records) and proprietary quantitative ratings that may reveal trading opportunities.
- Seeking Alpha PRO. For a hefty investment — several times what any of the above competitors charge — PRO subscribers get an ad-free experience and a seven days’ head start on all Seeking Alpha investing recommendations. They also enjoy VIP customer support by phone and email, and a proprietary Idea Filter that sorts through vast troves of data to highlight potential trading opportunities.
As someone who doesn’t trade for a living, I struggle to see the value in PRO’s hefty price tag. But Seeking Alpha’s interface is a bit cluttered and noisy, so an ad-free experience with white-glove service may be worth it to some investors. And serious traders may appreciate the combination of a week’s advance notice on Seeking Alpha picks and access to the proprietary Idea Filter. This certainly isn’t the casual investor’s first choice, though.
6. Yahoo! Finance
In less competitive times, Yahoo! Finance was the go-to resource for retail investors seeking financial news, analytic tools, and high-quality analysis without a pricey subscription.
Yahoo! Finance still comes without that pricey subscription. And it still boasts a nice lineup of complimentary analytic tools, research reports, straight financial news, and user-generated content. But its free suite is no longer the only game in town — nor the best, at least not for serious investors.
Fortunately, there’s Yahoo! Finance Premium, a reasonably priced package that includes:
- Real-time news and stock quotes during trading hours
- Direct trading via linked brokers (if your brokerage participates)
- A portfolio watchlist with unlimited stocks
- Interactive stock charts for research and performance monitoring
- Daily trading ideas based on your stated interests
- Curated investment research from trusted third parties
- Enhanced charting with technical analysis features not available in Yahoo! Finance’s free suite
- Advanced portfolio analytics for serious traders
- Fair value analysis for listed stocks
- Proprietary leading indicator metrics from Yahoo! Finance partners for industry and economic analyses
- Limited ads
- Live chat support on the desktop version
By contrast, unpaid Yahoo! Finance users get only the first five Premium features. If you’re a low-stakes hobbyist, these features might be all you need. Otherwise, take a closer look at Yahoo! Finance Premium.
7. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is the financial industry’s leading daily publication. It features a trove of timely business and economic news, much of it written by staff reporters with decades of experience — a refreshing contrast to wire reports churned out by non-specialists.
WSJ’s real differentiator, though, is a growing portfolio of internally produced columns, such as Heard on the Street and Wealth Adviser. You shouldn’t base your investing strategy solely on WSJ staff projections, but they provide insights you might miss elsewhere, a sober tone that’s increasingly rare in the digital investor community.
8. Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research is an independent market research outfit known for detailed, engagingly written stock and fund picks that often go against the grain of conventional wisdom.
Zacks’ website has a pretty extensive archive of free content for casual investors. But the good stuff is locked away in Zacks Premium, which costs a bit more than Morningstar Premium after a risk-free 30-day trial period.
Zacks Premium includes:
- The Zacks #1 List, a roundup of top picks that’s more than doubled the performance of the S&P 500 since 1988.
- Style Scores, which rank all stocks on the Zacks #1 list for Value, Growth, and Momentum. While Zacks stands behind the overall quality of its #1 picks, it recognizes that all investors are different; some prefer value stocks to buy-and-hold, while others want to capitalize on short-term momentum.
- The Focus List, a 50-stock portfolio featuring stocks with high long-term earnings potential. For investors looking to build diversified buy-and-hold portfolios, the Focus List is something close to a one-stop shop.
- Industry Rank, a detailed list comparing relative Zacks rankings for all listed stocks in each of more than 250 industry groups. According to Zacks, the top 50% of industries beat stocks in the bottom 50% by a factor of 2.
- The Zacks Earnings Expected Surprise Prediction (ESP) Filter, which identifies stocks with the highest probability of upside earnings surprises (and the accompany stock-price surges).
9. Google Finance
Google Finance is a bare-bones stock research suite that’s ideal for DIY investors comfortable performing due diligence with minimal support.
Google Finance is free, and it won’t put up a paywall anytime soon. I use it to review the latest U.S. and world markets news quickly. Its watchlist feature is ideal for less experienced investors looking to build and track mock portfolios before plowing their hard-earned funds into the market.
What Google Finance doesn’t have is the sort of proprietary analysis and research you get with a paid subscription to sites such as Morningstar, Motley Fool, or Zacks. Still, there’s little downside to checking your watchlist stocks and headlines here every morning.
10. Your Online Brokerage’s Research Portal
Your online brokerage almost certainly has a wealth of free analytic tools, such as stock screeners, along with a slew of financial wire stories and analyst reports. Full-service brokerages tend to score particularly well on this measure.
Merrill Edge, Bank of America’s self-directed trading platform, offers professional-grade analytic tools through Merrill Edge MarketPro®. To qualify, you must make at least 15 trades per month or keep a minimum of $50,000 in balances across combined eligible Bank of America/Merrill Lynch deposit and investment accounts.
TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim trading platform incorporates breaking news and analysis into a powerful analytics package that includes non-traditional measures such as social sentiment. It’s ideal for those who trade for a living or hobbyists looking to compete with the professionals. Thinkorswim carries no additional charge when you pay TD Ameritrade’s commissions.
If you haven’t already, investigate your brokerage’s research and analytic tools, and consider making a change if they’re not up to snuff.
If one thing ties all these resources together, it’s their appeal to self-directed investors — people looking to create and manage their own portfolios.
Does that mean investors without the time or inclination to manage their own investments needn’t pay attention to market news or company reports? Not at all. Even if you work with a full-service financial advisor who handles day-to-day investment management, you need to stay informed. How else will you be able to challenge your financial advisor when they make questionable investing decisions or appear to deviate from the plan you’ve laid out?
Knowledge is power, whether or not you’re in the driver’s seat.
What’s your favorite resource for investing news, analysis, and research? What do you like about it?