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Wall Street, California: Time for a Tuneup | INVESTMENT
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What's Worthy on the Web : From the Huge Pool of Financial Online Sites, a Look at the Top Performers

September 30, 1997|TOM PETRUNO

Trying to find some useful financial information on the Internet? If so, you don't have to search the World Wide Web for very long to realize that your problem is everybody else's on the Web: a lack of quality, not quantity.

There are plenty of financial-related sites available to small investors, but many are just time sinkholes, or they spend far too many bytes trying to get you to cough up money for a product or service.

So it's not too surprising that when some Ventura County investment club members got together for an investor fair earlier this month, one of the day's hot topics was where to find truly useful Internet resources.

A session hosted by Judith Brenner of the Channel Islands council of the National Assn. of Investors Corp., the national organization of investment clubs, was devoted solely to financial Web sites.

Here are some of the sites the NAIC folks presented as worthy of a visit:

* Tutorial sites for new investors: Try the main site of American Assn. of Individual Investors (http://www.aaii.org), which includes a load of free information for small investors and currently features such topics as what you need to know when searching for an investment manager and how to implement an investment strategy from scratch.

A good site for basic definitions of investment terms is http://invest-faq.com, the Investment FAQ (frequently asked questions) site.

At http://www.investorama.com, you can find information on 4,300 investment sites in 70 categories. The site is maintained by Douglas Gerlach, editor of "The Investor's Web Guide: Tools and Strategies for Building Your Portfolio," published by Lycos Press in April.

Finally, NAIC would be remiss if it didn't recommend its own Web site (http://www.better-investing.org).

* Stock-market-related sites: INVESTools (http://www.investools.com) provides what it says is "trusted advice for independent investors." From this site you can, among other things, get access to company profiles from a service called Baseline ($1.50 per report), chart individual stock prices and gain access (for varying prices) to investment newsletters.

At Research InvestorNet (http://www.researchmag.com), a wealth of information on individual stocks is available for free, after registration.

For portfolio-tracking purposes, Brenner likes InfoBeat (http://www.infobeat.com), a free service that offers to send you daily e-mail containing closing prices and news about the stocks, indexes and mutual funds you own or are interested in. The service says its news reports on companies are "handpicked for relevance and edited for brevity by our financial editorial staff."

Another portfolio-tracking tool is the Daily Rocket site (http://www.dailyrocket.com), which includes data on recent initial public offerings. Wallst.com (http://www.wallst.com) also is worth a look.

One of the granddaddies of thorough stock analysis is Standard & Poor's (http://www.stockinfo.standardpoor.com).

If you're trying to track down information on relatively small companies, try Hoover's Online (http://www.hoovers.com). It has basic data on more than 11,000 publicly traded companies.

* Specialized investment sites: One of the most popular sites for investors interested in technology stocks is the Silicon Investor (http://www.techstocks.com). There is plenty of interesting give-and-take in the site's StockTalk chat section, but as with anything you read about an individual company, remember to consider the source.

Small-stock investors may enjoy the Small Cap Investor (http://www.smallcapinvestor.com). But naturally, you should be particularly careful when judging recommendations of smaller stocks. Given their often thin liquidity, these stocks can be easily moved--up or down--if just a few investors follow a recommendation service's advice.

For information on U.S. Treasury securities, including dates of upcoming auctions and everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. Savings Bonds, go to http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov, a site maintained by the Treasury itself.

For easy access to official company earnings reports and all other reports that companies must file directly with the Securities and Exchange Commission, try a service called WhoWhere (http://www.whowhere.com/EDGAR).

cf,px,8.5 * Stock exchange sites: You obviously can't consider them unbiased (at least not about the merits of listing a stock with them), but the nation's major stock markets all have individual Web sites that might tell you a few things you didn't know about stocks and investing.

For the New York Stock Exchange, go to http://www.nyse.com. For the Nasdaq Stock Market, go to http://www.nasdaq.com. For the American Stock Exchange, the address is http://www.amex.com

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Other Resources

There are hundreds of potentially useful financial sites on the Web, many providing investors with very specific services. Information is often free, although there may be charges for certain services.

To save you time and to give you some ideas about what is available, The Times has put together a list of live links to financial Web resources. Go to http://www.latimes.com/HOME/BUSINESS/TIMES100/resources.htm

In addition to these links, The Times' own site offers a number of services directly or in cooperation with other Web sites. Among other things, you can create a stock portfolio, do company research and look up quotes for free. A summary of the services can be found at http://www.latimes.com/times100

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