One of the year's biggest pariah stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange could also be among the biggest bargains right now.
That would be Research In Motion , which has fallen in price by about two-thirds in 2011. Investors seem to hate it, but a new website called says it's one of the most undervalued TSX stocks. Vuru turns reams of financial data into information even a raw rookie could use to find undervalued stocks. It's one of a group of investing websites that I've either noticed for the first time or have been impressed with lately.
Vuru, it must be noted, is an amateur hour production. The two Montreal-based 20-somethings behind it haven't a minute in the financial world between them. One started a landscaping business, the other attended law school.
"We are self-taught investors," said Yoseph West, the law student. "We're not from the typical background, and I think that plays to our advantage."
Mr. West's rationale taps into some of the same sentiments fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement, where people angry at what they see as greed and ethical bankruptcy in the financial industry have been gathering near Wall Street in New York.
"We're not insiders, and that puts us in a strong position because we're able to look at things objectively," said Mr. West, who is 25. "Most investors are on the outside, and Wall Street bankers look at them as dumb money."
Vuru doesn't get involved in the "buy-sell-hold" game played in traditional stock research. It simply gauges whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued based on criteria used by esteemed stock picker Warren Buffett. It's up to you to do further research to see if a stock is worth buying or not.
Vuru starts with the same data you get on websites like Globeinvestor.com, Yahoo Finance and Google Finance, some of it drawn from day-to-day stock market action and some from quarterly financial statements. It then interprets the numbers in a way that beginner and intermediate investors can't.
The end product is a score out of 100 – RIM got a 83.68 late this week, which ranked it just behind Teck Resources and Inmet Mining on a list of top TSX bargains. Want more detail on RIM's score? Then dig down into the ratings in five sub-categories for each stock, including valuation and financial strength.
Wikinvest is another website that aims to be more than just another data depot. Check out the Data view on a particular stock and you'll find not only the usual array of ratios, but also a note on whether the numbers are high, low or average. There are also company overviews for each stock, analysis on both the bullish and bearish side and a summary written in plain English.
As with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, users contribute the written content for Wikinvest and edit it. Profiles of the most active contributors to the site are available.
is also a place to go for researching investing concepts as opposed to individual stocks. There are overviews of investing concepts ranging from clean coal to peak oil, along with a summary of bullish and bearish arguments. Global markets, commodities and exchange-traded funds are also covered.
The hottest feature on Wikinvest is a portfolio tracker that allows you to follow all your investment accounts at one time with real-time streaming quotes. Unfortunately, only U.S. brokerage firms are eligible right now. (Note: You must provide your account passwords to make the service work. They're protected by "bank-level" security.)
The feature on Globeinvestor.com is another example of how technology can be used to make data easier to access and use for investors. Watchlists are groupings of stocks you're keeping an eye on. Create a Watchlist and then choose different views that focus on things like daily price changes, dividend history, percentage returns over periods of one, three, five and 10 years and key investing ratios. You can also add stock indexes and commodities to your Watchlist.
Harnessing the acumen of celebrated investors like Mr. Buffett is a popular theme in the world of investing websites. In addition to Vuru, there's a pay website called , that offers model portfolios based on strategies used by Mr. Buffett as well as such other stock market gurus as Peter Lynch and Benjamin Graham. (Disclosure: Globe Investor has a joint venture with Validea.ca.)
If you simply want to know what Mr. Buffett and other top investing minds have been holding in their portfolios, check out . Using various databases, this website lists their holdings and shows how whether they've been buying more or selling some.
StockPickr is also a community where investing pros and non-pros and answer questions and swap investing ideas. The site is big on lists – 11 worst-run companies of 2011, seven top-rated energy stocks with upside and so forth.
Another investing community worth trying is , where members express themselves in the Twitter format of 140-character blasts (many of them with links to articles and charts). Follow a particular stock on the site, or find other investors to follow based on your personal profile.
An ideas-generating website that focuses on the Canadian market is called . For years, this website has been tirelessly tracking the stock picks and pans made by investing experts on BNN and other financial TV shows. Click on the Opinions tab and you'll get a day-by-day list of stocks that have been mentioned, the money manager who mentioned them, the price at the time and the investment rationale. You can also search by stock symbol, or by browsing an index of money managers.
The website performs a similar service to Stockchase, but with investing blogs. From its 4,000 contributors, Seeking Alpha each day picks about 250 posts on investing topics. As is customary with sites like these, there is total transparency with contributors. You can read their bios, look at their blogs and track their recommendations to establish their credibility.
This being Financial Literacy Month, it's worth ending this list with a few good educational investing websites:
- : Material comes from The Globe as well as from the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization.
- : The IEF's own website. (Disclosure: I am among several financial writers who have contributed to a blog on this site called Masters of Money.)
- : An online investing dictionary.
- : Offered by the British Columbia Securities Commission.