Monday, January 25, 2016

"When Library Talks Investment Data, People Listen" | @ the Library Article

The Abilene Public Library offers investors, or would-be investors, a wide array of online and print resources to help them build and manage a successful investment portfolio.  If you're working on your financial well-being this New Year, let us help!

Morningstar is an outstanding investment database among the dozens the library offers on many topics.  It is accessible to library cardholders from home, office computers, or handheld devices.  From the library's website, www.abilenetx.com/apl, click on E-Resources then look over to the right to access Morningstar under Investing.

Morningstar offers comprehensive financial data on thousands of domestic and international stocks, as well as mutual funds and hundreds of exchange traded funds.  Access the company you are looking for by entering either the name of the stock or fund, or its ticker symbol.  You'll get a wealth of information, including: the up-to-the-minute trading price during the trading day; that day's and the previous twelve months price range; an in depth description of the company or fund; and income statements, balance sheets and cash flow going back at least four years.

All stocks and mutual funds are assigned one to five stars, with five given to those which have provided the best returns in relationship to risk and may be considered better than most for future performance.  It also profiles its "five star favorites," stocks which should be considered for purchase.  In addition, for each stock Morningstar assigns a number from one to five with five a "strong buy," three a "hold" and one, likely time to sell and take one's losses.  Commentary on each stock will also include "Wall Street's Recommendations" as a buy, hold or sell.

Yet another nice feature is a screener for both stocks and mutual funds allowing the potential investor to choose specific criteria from among dozens of choices to isolate stocks or funds that meet those criteria.  For example, I wanted to view stocks with a rating of at least four stars, a price to earnings ratio of 13 or less and a dividend yield of 3.5% or more.  By doing so I was given comprehensive data on four stocks, two domestic and two foreign.

Morningstar allows one to examine a particular index, type of stock, sector, industry or fund category.  I chose to look at all stocks within the health care industry and found that as a group they have produced a 22% return over the past five years.  I was also able to see a list of the 104 stocks included within the sector and view specific data on each stock.

The database has literally hundreds of articles and videos on current topics, most of them under five minutes in length.  "A Value Fund for Up and Down Markets," "The Interest Rate Risk Factor for Dividend Investors" and "3 Long-Term Stock Picks in a Market with Few Opportunities" were among those of interest to me.

Morningstar also features "retirement" and "funding college education" calculators allowing one to input data on their particular situation and then see how much they'll need to retire comfortably or finance a college education at a specified point in time.  A glossary of financial terms is also a very helpful feature, especially for those who may be novices to investing.

Some basic knowledge of investment terms and how investments work is helpful in fully utilizing this database for for assistance, please call us at the Information Services desk of the Main Library at 325-676-6025 or email Dennis Miller.

Article Contributed by Dennis Miller, Information Services Librarian & Business Specialist at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library

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