Web an excellent aid to knowledge of companies
With thousands of companies listed on the average exchange, is it any wonder small-time investors tend to stick with a few big players? The Web is an excellent aid to expanding your knowledge beyond the handful of companies that dominate the front pages of the business sections Hoover's StockScreener [www.stock screener.com] is a great little resource for anyone interested in investing in US-listed stocks. Using an interactive form, visitors can check out the strength of their investments or just search out new inspiration.
The great thing about the StockScreener is that you do not need to have a company, or even a specific industry in mind when you use it. Instead, you can call up information by selecting from up to 20 different performance criteria such as return on equity or price/earnings ratio.
Searches and basic company information are provided free of charge, but to get full access to Hoover's analytical reports, you will be charged a US$9.95 monthly subscription fee.
A free source of information that every Hong Kong investor should bookmark is the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong [www.sehk.com.hk]. The design is institutionally drab and lacks the benefit of live feeds, but visitors to the exchange's site are given an informative bilingual tour of what is otherwise Asia's most exciting exchange. The site's main drawback is the number of 'under construction' signs, but despite this, there is information to interest the most stock-shy surfer.
For a more colourful investment alternative, visit the Hong Kong Futures Exchange [www.hkfe.com]. It is only right the designers should add a lot of colour - we are talking about predicting the future here, after all. The site sketches the background to the HKFE, its purpose, membership and rules. It also lists free seminars organised by the HKFE and press releases dating back to 1995. There is contact information for all exchange members and how to join.
Of most value for the market watcher is an indispensable collection of data and statistics, including historical data and daily reports on options, futures and forex movements. These can either be viewed online or downloaded as compressed zip files, which you can open and view with Microsoft Excel. To open the files, you will need a decompression utility. Winzip [www.winzip.com] is the most popular choice.
However, Site.com's pick of the week is Where's Waldo? On the Web [www.find waldo.com]. If you were too old to be seen with one of Martin Handford's obsessively-detailed cartoon books, this is one site you shouldn't miss. If anything, the Web Waldo is a lot more entertaining than his hardback persona. On the way to the site, pick up a copy of Shockwave to get the full multimedia treatment. There is a daily cartoon strip, on-line store and an assortment of games, even an on-screen join-the-dots puzzle. And not forgetting the whole purpose of Waldo - finding him.