I’ve been trying to build up a little money for retirement and lately I’ve been dabbling in the stock market. I use the mobile web during my two hour round trip commute on the train to try to learn more about the market and research stocks I’m considering. What follows is my assessment of current mobile investment sites. Keep in mind that I’m not a sophisticated investor, these are just my personal observations – mainly on the depth of content and usability of mobile finance sites.
In general, I’m rather disappointed by the mobile investment sites I’ve found. On the full web, sites like Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch and MSN Money are very comprehensive with Company profiles, news, loads of data on past performance, graphs of arcane technical analysis indicators, stock rating tools and columns by stock pickers like MSN’s Jim Jubak and TheStreet.com’s Jim Cramer.
Sadly the mobile versions of these sites restrict themselves to only bare bones information. MSN has just opening and current price, change, percentage change and daily and 52 week high and low. Yahoo’s a little better, adding an intra-day chart, 52 week high/low, P/E, EPS, Market Cap, dividend per share and yield.
Even the online brokerage’s mobile sites are lacking many of the features I want. I use E-Trade as my broker and I can’t even execute a trade on their mobile site. All they currently offer are basic quotes. E-Trade does promise to add news, a portfolio view and on-line trading “soon”. Ameritrade, Schwab and Fidelity are better, offering trading and basic quotes similar to Yahoo’s. Fidelity and Schwab also have nice 1d, 5d, 2m, 6m, 1y, 5y charts.
My ideal mobile investment site would open with a list of the stocks in my portfolio with latest price and change. Clicking a stock would lead to a detailed quote with opening and current price, change, percentage change, daily and 52 week high and low, P/E, EPS, Market Cap, dividend per share, yield and ex-dividend date. From that screen it should be possible to drill down into screens with charts, company profiles and company news. The mobile portfolio would also be synchronized with the portfolio on a full featured web site. The ideal site would also have a good mobile UI with manageable page sizes, numeric accelerator keys for common functions and a persistent login so you don’t have to enter your id and password every time.
Needless to say, I didn’t find my ideal site. My top priority is portfolios. That limits the choices to Yahoo, MSN, Bloomberg and MarketWatch (both PDA and xhtml versions) plus Ameritrade, Schwab or Fidelity if you have a brokerage account with one of them. Bloomberg, MSN and Yahoo all have good handheld navigation and persistent login. I currently prefer Yahoo (top image) because it has more detail in the quotes than MSN and excellent full length company news stories, much better than the news on MSN or Bloomberg. I also want to like MarketWatch which has several versions. There is a PDA site with detailed quotes and very good charts (third image) but so-so usability on a phone and no persistent login. The MarketWatch xhtml and wml sites are much more limited in their features. They do persist your portfolio but don’t use a login – relying instead on just a cookie. That means that your portfolio is only on the single handset where you set it up. As there is no login, if the cookie gets deleted or expires you lose your portfolio! All of these sites display your portfolio in a list of symbols, prices and change amounts, handy for scanning a group of stocks quickly. Bloomberg (second image) even lets you customize the list with your choice of any 3 of 11 columns.
There are also some sites that while they don’t meet my requirements for my main investment home do offer some nice features.
For serious research, the best mobile investment site is StockPoint’s PDA site. I’m surprised that the site exists at all. StockPoint.com as an financial web site disappeared about the time that it’s parent company, Pinnacor was acquired by MarketWatch in 2003. But the mobile edition of Stockpoint is still up and running with current data and is a real treasure trove for mobile using investors. While you can’t create a portfolio, there are fast loading 1 day, 1 week, 3 month, 6 month, 1 year and 5 year charts. But the best feature is the wealth of data on fundamentals. Nowhere else on the mobile web can you find data like Average Daily Volume, Price/Sales, Price/Book, Price/Cash Flow, Market Capitalization, Shares Outstanding, Float, Earnings, Sales, Book Value, Cash Flow, Cash Reserves, Dividend Yield, Annual Dividend, Payout Ratio, Return on Equity, Return on Assets, Quick Ratio, Current Ratio, LT Debt/Equity, Total Debt/Equity, Gross Margin, Operating Margin and Profit Margin (fourth image). Their is also a table of analyst rankings showing the number of analysts ranking a stock as a Buy, Hold or Sell, etc. In addition to the US site, StockPoint also has sites for the UK, German (in German) and Italian (in Italian) exchanges.
StockCharts.com (bottom image) features “candlestick” charts with moving averages which are popular with technical analysis proponents.
The only site with stock picks and recommendations that actually works is TheStreet.com which features Jim Cramer’s column. MotleyFool.com used to be good for stock picks and general market news but the site has been broken for about a month now – the page comes up with just the header and footer boiler-plate and an empty space where the articles should be. I hope it gets fixed as I miss The Fool.
It goes without saying that you need to take any stock picker’s recommendations with a grain of salt – do you own research before putting any money down. That said, I do enjoy reading these columns and dreaming of making my own winning stock picks – sadly the market hasn’t been cooperating.
It seems like there should be an audience for the kind of full featured mobile finance portal I envision. Dow Jones and Company, which owns MarketWatch, StockPoint, The Wall Street Journal, Barrons, BigCharts.com and VirtualStockExchange.com certainly has the resources to create one, heck if they just did a mashup of the best of the MarketWatch and StockPoint mobile sites and added persistent login they’d have a real winner. Yahoo could certainly create the mother of all mobile investment sites if they wanted – all they need to do is add more charts and in-depth company profiles and fundamentals (which is data they already have on their full Finance web site) to their existing mobile Finance Site.
Yahoo Finance: wml/xhtml-mp
MarketWatch PDA: cHtml