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Marketwatch iPhone App Review

December 6th, 2011 No comments

Marketwatch.com has an excellent investor App with features that are hard to find elsewhere. Marketwatch.com is generally an excellent site for value investors because the quotes available are very ‘dividend aware’, most of the time the dividend amount and yield are correct and available for most companies.

However, the App takes a different route. It’s the way of the world right now in App development, Apps are developed by different teams than the designers of desktop websites and the features can differ a lot (so it goes with Marketwatch). So, if you expect the same features as the website you will be disappointed. However, take the App for what it is, it is very useful.
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Wikinvest Review

October 10th, 2011 No comments

Wikinvest is a non-broker site that provides user generated information about investing. If you have never heard of a Wiki, these are sites that allow people to create web pages without programming. The most famous example is Wikipedia, the most infamous, Wikileaks.

If Wikinvest were just an investing version of Wikipedia that would be OK but not really that innovative of an idea. Where Wikinvest really shows its value is in it portfolio consolidation. It’s simple, elegant and you can get your portfolios consolidated in literally minutes.

If you are like me, you probably have different brokers that you have accumulated over time. This is not uncommon, and I think that it’s a consequence of the fact that different brokers offer benefits for each type of investing that you do. While each one may provide a good idea of how your portfolio is performing, there isn’t a quick way to look at all of them in a consolidated view. This is where Wikinvest comes in.

Portfolio Snapshot

After you provide login credentials to each broker site, Wikinvest will create a complete summary of all of your positions across all of your brokers. The three views that are offered right away are the following:

  1. Summary – short table of each position plus latest news and chart.
  2. Performance – table that shows daily and total gain for each position.
  3. Fundamental – table that shows investment criteria such as P/E, ROE, etc.

There is also an ability to create custom ‘tabs’ that combine whatever criteria you are interested in. See the below image that shows all of the criteria you can select from:

Portfolio Analysis

One the left column of the site, Wikinvest provides a bunch of portfolio summary information that is calculated from all the positions and summarized. Here’s what is offered:

  • Summary Value of Each Account
  • Account Filters, to eliminate positions from the detail view.
  • Analytics.
  • Watchlists, which you can create separate from the portfolios.

The most useful information here is a few things that would be difficult to calculate on your own (it can be done, it would take some effort). In the Analytics section, they offer the ability to view your portfolio overall return up to 1 Year back. This is worth the price of admission alone because it may surprise you that your returns may not be what you expected. Below is what this feature looks like:

The performance number calculation is a ‘time weighted return’. Also, there is other consolidated information that I find useful, particularly the total portfolio ‘Dividend Yield’. This is what is provided in this lower section of the Analytics:

OK, Now For The Numbers Check

I’ve told you about all of the great features this site has, but you should also know about the caveats. The portfolio feature of Wikinvest is relatively new and has a lot of limitations and inaccuracies that are worth noting. First, below are the features that are spot on with each of the portfolios:

  1. Positions
  2. Position Value
  3. Daily Position Price
  4. Cash Transactions (in/out)
  5. Dividend/Interest Transactions
  6. Investment Fees.

Everything else is subject to skepticism because there are limitations to how complete the information that the software is able to get from your brokers as well as quotes and detail specs for some investments. If you are an income investor like me, it is a common frustration that information about many investments isn’t typically available on the public financial feeds/sites (I usually have to go to my broker or specialized data sites). So, this is a common problem.

I noticed the following issues:

  1. No cost basis found for some investments. History doesn’t go past 3 months, so if you bought the investment more than 3 months ago for some brokers, Wikinvest can’t know the initial cost.
  2. Incomplete data feeds – for example, many types of income investments don’t have accurate income noted, so this affects the calculation of dividend yield.
  3. Special Transactions – for example, I had a trust convert to a corporation. The two securities weren’t tied together and this skewed the portfolio performance incorrectly. (My broker didn’t get it right either).
  4. No position consolidation. It would be nice to be able to view an investment ‘as one’, if you own it in two different accounts. Now, it is shown as two different investments.
  5. The Account Filter filters the detail positions but not the summary Performance/Analytics. It would be good to be able to compare how one specific portfolio compares to the total of all of the accounts.

Given the limitations, it’s still worth it to use this site as a quick way to track and monitor your portfolio and all of your positions. Particularly when I am on the go, this offers the ability to quickly track my portfolio without logging in to each broker.

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