Firstrade Research Tools

Updated Sunday, February 13, 2011

Research Tools Grade: A

CLICK HERE to get 250 commission-free equity trades, up to
$100 transfer fee rebate and $250 cash rebate at Firstrade.com


Firstrade offers quite an extensive collection of research tools.  Users will find general market news, sector specific research reports and company specific commentary.  Company pages contain lots of useful features, with the earnings and insiders tabs being particularly well done.  Standard tools such as event calendars, stock / ETF / mutual fund screeners, watchlists and alerts are all included.  Basic educational articles are included for novice investors.  Finally, X-Stream Watchlist and X-Stream Portfolio are interesting applications that would be more useful if they were integrated within the rest of the Firstrade interface.  When you add it all up, Firstrade offers a nice set of research tools to aid all types of investors.


Firstrade research tools are found within various menus and tabs.  There is a lot to cover so let us go through one feature at a time.

Market & News Overview
Here is a look at the Firstrade Market & News Overview page.  It contains quotes and charts for the major stock indices, news headlines and more (click on images for larger views):

General Commentary
The Commentary tab has general market and industry specific commentary provided by Standard & Poor's.  The S&P Picks tab contains additional research articles.  It would be nice if these sections offered additional commentary from sources besides S&P.  Included as well is an extensive list of IPOs and their performance since going public.

Stock Movers
The Stock Movers tab shows a list of the day's highest volume, % gainers and % losers stocks.   All three lists can be shown for NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX exchanges.  The Sectors & Industry tab organizes the week's biggest stock gainers based on industry.

The Market Calendar tab organizes economic news, earnings reports and IPOs by date.  It would be more useful if date ranges and advanced filtering was available.  Here is a look at the economic news releases scheduled for a particular date:

Company Pages
Company specific pages each contain a plethora of information.  The Detailed Quote tab shows technical and fundamental stock price information, brief company profiles and standard valuation metrics. Company specific news articles are provided by The Associated Press, Comtex News and MidnightTrader while company research reports are provided by Standard & Poor's.  The standard financial statements - balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows - can all be retrieved from the Financials tab.  The SEC Filings tab contains 10-Q, 10-K and other required reports and can all be downloaded in either PDF or DOC format.  The Earnings tab is nicely laid out and is a useful reference item just prior to earnings announcements.  Here is a look at the earnings history page for Apple (AAPL):

The Ownership tab contains a list of recent insider transactions, a pie chart showing the percent of shares held by insiders and a stock chart overlaid with insider transaction events.  The is one of the best examples that we have seen of this type of feature.  Here is a look at this page for Apple (AAPL):

The Education tab contains investment guides, tax information, a financial glossary and bookstore.  Investment Guides are basic introductions to investing in stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds and fixed income securities.  The Tax Center is an introduction to common tax forms and how to calculate gains and losses for tax reporting purposes.  The Bookstore contains investment books and videos for sale.

The Community tab has two sections: the Firstrade Blog and Firstrade bi-monthly Newsletter.

The Screeners tab has separate stock, ETF and mutual fund screeners. The stock screener contains 36 different screening criteria and all criteria are fully customizable.  For example, users can screen for stocks with market caps greater than $249 million and P/E ratios below 11.  One issue that we found with the stock screener is that the user selected screening criteria is not shown in the output results.   Here are the results we retrieved with the screening criteria of market cap above $1 billion, P/E ratio below 10 and dividend yield greater than 3%:

Watchlists are user customizable lists of securities and include various pricing indicators for each security. Here is a watchlist that we created that includes major oil companies:

Alerts are triggers that generate either emails or text messages when certain market parameters are met.  These parameters can be customized for individual securities based on price, volume, % moves and breach of 52 week ranges.  We created a few examples and found that emails arrived in our inbox nearly instantaneously upon conditions being met.  Here is an alert we set up which will trigger when Apple (AAPL) drops below $300.00 or if it falls more than 2% below the previous day's close:

X-Stream Tools
Finally, there are a pair of Java applications named X-Stream Watchlist and X-Stream Portfolio.  X-Stream Watchlist allows users to create a list of securities, chart in real time and quickly access predefined Firstrade menus.  X-Stream Portfolio allows for the creation of customized portfolios, which will keep track of gain / loss information.  These tools are interesting but they would be a lot more useful if they were integrated within
the rest of the Firstrade menus and not separate pop up applications.

Related Articles:
Firstrade Review
Firstrade Stock Trading
Firstrade Options Trading
Firstrade Charts
Firstrade iPhone App