Updated: May 3, 2013 12:14PM
Originally published: August 7, 2001
Twenty years ago you had to call a stockbroker--and pay big commissions--to get reasonably current market information. Today, information is everywhere: free, online, instantaneous.
The real problem is organizing that flood of knowledge and figuring out what’s useful in making investment decisions.
It’s an issue that may be answered by a new Web site that arrived online just in the past month--www.B4UTrade.com. Founder Keith Savitz calls it “the online trader’s dream site.”
Created by a group of professional traders who contributed not only their venture capital but their ideas of what information is most important, this Web site is a whole new dimension in market information. It’s not that you can’t find some of their offerings at other online financial sites. But the organization and presentation are certainly unique, and some of their tools can’t be found at any other site.
The first thing you’ll notice in the upper right-hand corner of your screen is CNBC streaming video. Through a special arrangement with CNBC, you can watch this popular television program online. You won’t miss a beat even when you change pages to any section of the Web site. Designed for traders, this lightning-fast Web site doesn’t ever require you to scroll down the page you see on your screen--and never takes you away from the site to gather the information you seek.
The front page gives you a look at what you’ll find there for a fee of $25 a month, or $250 a year. (There’s currently a 30-day free trial.) Start with the customized stock screening tool, which allows you to create your own “watch list” based on an infinite number of variables. Screen by earnings reports, or earnings upgrades, or by stock splits--or even by rumors of mergers and buyouts. You can screen companies that are appearing on CNBC (which may impact stock prices) or by companies with upcoming analyst meetings.
All of these news-making screens are in addition to traditional ways of sorting companies, such as price/earnings ratios and book value or profit margins.
If you’re watching for IPOs that are scheduled to happen, or are tracking the performance of past IPOs, you’ll be interested in that special section of the Web site. You can be reminded when a once-hot IPO drops to a price level you think is reasonable--if you’re still interested. You can even see when the lockup period expires. That’s the date on which the company founders, insiders and early investors are allowed to sell some of their stock. It typically takes place about 90 to 180 days after the initial offering.
If you want to know what George Soros, Warren Buffett and the big institutions are buying or selling, there’s an “Institutional Piggyback” section of the Web site designed to track their big block trades--long before George or Warren are required to report their current holdings. The “Stocks Up Close” section gives you profiles, dynamic charting and even lets you listen in to company conference calls with analysts.
Maybe you’d like to know what’s going on in the hot chat rooms on the Internet. One section of this Web site--”Street Talk”--allows you to jump to sites like YahooFinance or Raging Bull chatrooms--or just to keep track of what stocks are most being talked about on each of those sites.
You can even see a tabulation of what sectors--from biotech to telecom to financials--are most actively being discussed.
The traders who created this Web site have aggregated all the information they wanted to know--and made it available online in one place. From upcoming stock splits and buybacks, to Top 10 lists of companies with large short positions or biggest price moves, you’ll find the information that moves markets here. They’ll make money not only by subscriptions, but by revenue sharing with many of the best known financial portals that are lining up to gain direct access to this Web site.
In the meantime, you can check it out for free.
Yes, you can hop around the Internet on your own, clicking on favorite sites to give you all this information. But organizing that plenitude of information is the new dimension that differentiates Web sites for users.
Remember, though, that all that power doesn’t guarantee profits. Decide first whether you’re a trader or an investor!
And that’s the Savage Truth.
Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser for stocks and commodities and is on the board of directors of McDonald’s Corp. and Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. Send questions via e-mail at savage @suntimes.com. Her third book, The Savage Truth on Money, recently was published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.