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In April 2011, ShareBuilder launched a redesigned website and with this came a new research platform. This is a welcome development because, as covered in our original review in 2008, the former platform was severely limited. Stock, asset class, sector and industry specific sections are well designed and contain a good selection of useful material. Market news is rather limited but a good selection of research reports in part makes up for this. The calendar and screening tools need a lot of improvement to be as useful as these same features found at many other brokers. Comparison tools, watch lists and alerts are all well done. The options calculator, fund selector, portfolio builder and retirement planning tools are all moderately useful. ShareBuilder offers one of the better research platforms amongst all brokers.
The research tools at ShareBuilder are spread out across many pages found in the Research and Retirement tabs. Let's walk through some of the major sections.
Stock Quotes pages feature stock specific information spread out across several tabs. The company profile tab shows key statistics and ratios, including price, volume, valuation and profitability metrics. News & Events features a selection of stock related news articles provided by MarketWatch. The Ratings tab includes company research reports provided by Standard & Poor's, Sabrient and TheStreet and a compilation of analyst recommendations. The Financials tab features the three major financial statements - balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows - either in quarterly or annual formats. The Earnings tab features current and historical earnings estimates with an accompanying chart. Here is a look at Earnings tab for Netflix (NFLX) (click on images for larger views):
The Market Movers page shows the most active stocks based on customizable criteria. It can be filtered based on most active / gainers / losers, stocks / ETFs and index:
Market related news articles are provided by MarketWatch and PR Newswire. We would like to see news articles provided by additional sources and posted more frequently throughout the day.
Sectors & Industries
The Sectors & Industries page shows performance, average market cap, trailing twelve month PEs and 5 year EPS growth rate based on 16 major sectors. Selecting any sector loads a new page which displays a performance chart for that sector and a list of all industries that make up that sector.
The Events Calendar provides a look at upcoming earnings, dividends, economic announcements and webcasts. We think the calendar could be designed a lot better.
The Stocks page features a list of popular stock screens, S&P 500 research notes, a list of analyst updates and downgrades (Premium account holders only).
The ETFs page features a list of popular ETF screens, an ETF quick search menu and a list of top rated funds based on their Lipper Ratings.
The Mutual Funds page features a list of popular mutual fund screens, a mutual fund quick search menu and top mutual fund lists as based on several specific criteria.
The Options Calculator generates option values and Greeks (Delta, Gamma, Theta, Vega and Rho) based on user input. Here is an advanced calculation that we submitted with accompanying results:
There are also basic and cycles calculators as well.
The Position Simulator displays how prices of option contracts are affected by simulated market conditions. Results are shown as a chart with accompanying profit / loss and Delta data points. The simulator is very customizable so it should prove useful for options traders, especially those that utilize complex strategies.
The Investment Screener is a combined stock, ETF and mutual fund screener. There are 21 screening criteria in total, including basic, performance, fundamental and earnings related selections. The screener would be more useful if there were additional criteria and if the criteria was more customizable. For example, PE ratio can only filtered by selecting among four different ranges instead of allowing for a user customizable range. Here is a stock screener that we created:
The Compare Investments tool accepts a list of stocks / mutual funds / ETFs as input and provides a table with comparison results and accompanying chart. Here are the results that we generated when we entered some major technology companies:
My Watch List
Watch Lists are user configurable lists of stocks that show pricing and volume information for each item. Multiple watch lists can be created and displayed in either a table or carousel format. Here is a watch list that we created featuring a selection of major technology companies:
Alerts are configurable rules that will notify users when certain market conditions are met. Alerts can sent via email or text message and set based on price, volume, PE ratio, simple moving average crossover and S&P STARS rank changes. Here is an alert that we created to notify us when the price of 3M (MMM) rises or falls by 3% or more or when volume exceeds the 50 day moving average by 100% during a trading session:
Quick Fund Selector
The Quick Fund Selector provides a list of suggested mutual funds based on household income, total net worth, tax rate and either the target date or asset allocation strategy. Think of it as a mini retirement fund suggestion tool.
The Portfolio Builder tool provides a suggested asset allocation based on user input. Users provide their household income, net worth, tax bracket, investment goal with time horizon and risk appetite. This creates an overall risk profile from which a suggested asset allocation is generated. When we tried out this tool, here are the results that we generated:
The Retirement Planning tool is even more detailed than the previously highlighted tools. It provides and retirement game plan based on current lifestyle, expected lifestyle in retirement and investment goals. The final output is a formatted PDF file with a personalized game plan.
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