The proliferation of Internet-based brokerages that bypass traditional stockbrokers have allowed traders to put investments in their own hands like never before. With online brokers, playing the market is cheaper than ever -- but potentially more risky without the guiding hand of a stockbroker. It doesn't matter if you're using an online broker or a more traditional approach: you can watch your stocks and research companies with the help of the Internet.
-.-.- MyTrack -.-.-
MyTrack is a Windows application that makes watching your stocks easy. The program is free to download and use, offering a fair amount of functionality: you can create a portfolio of up to 20 stocks and track them with 20-minute delayed quotes. MyTrack offers upgrades for a fee: if you elect to enter your credit card number and pay a monthly fee, the program offers real-time quotes and tracks up to 100 stocks. (Real-time quotes for the New York Stock Exchange cost $5.25 per month; NASDAQ, $4; and AMEX, $3.25. Other exchanges are also available.)
Even without the fee-based upgrades, the program does quite a lot. For any company, you can see historical price graphs, news headlines, a trade transaction log, and information on options. Tell it what stocks you own and how many shares, and you'll know the value of your portfolio as of this minute (or at least as of twenty minutes ago). The portfolio page is customizable, allowing you to choose precisely the information you want to see. There's also a chat feature that you can use for live technical support or to talk with other investors.
It will probably take some time to get the hang of MyTrack's many features and quirks. The program is powerful but just a little bit funky -- for instance, both help and fee-based upgrades are accessed though the built-in chat system. Odd. Still, this Internet client may be just what you need to keep an eye on your investments. The five-megabyte download is available from http://www.mytrack.com.
MyTrack isn't the only choice for investors with a Windows machine on their desk. Four more Windows-based stock ticker clients -- WinStock, Personal Stock Monitor, Quote Ticker Bar and NetStock -- have recently been reviewed at Stroud's Consummate Winsock Application List: http://cws.internet.com/reviews/stock-reviews.html.
-.-.- MacTicker -.-.-
MacTicker is a great tool for market-watching Mac users. The program puts a scrolling stock ticker on your screen, using free information from financial Web sites to deliver delayed quotes. Specify the companies that you want to watch, then they'll scroll by on your screen throughout the trading day.
The program is customizable: you can elect to see the stock symbol, company name, current price, price change and trade volume in the ticker. In addition, you can set up alerts that will warn you when a stock makes a drastic price or percentage change.
When you want more information about a stock, you can get it without opening your Web browser: MacTicker will tell you its annual high and low price, P/E ratio, volume and other details. Unfortunately, there's no way to receive real-time quotes.
MacTicker is $25.00 shareware. Until you register the program, it will only run for half an hour in a stretch before quitting.
=*=*= SITES MENTIONED IN THIS ISSUE =*=*=
Stroud's Reviews of stock ticker clients: http://cws.internet.com/reviews/stock-reviews.html