Beginner's Guide To Charles Schwab Online Brokerage - Research
Schwab offers relatively robust research capabilities on their website. These research tools include market monitoring capabilities, Schwab generated research, and research provided through third party affiliations.
There are enough financial websites available that finding a way to monitor markets is generally not a problem for most investors. However, for many people it is easier to monitor the market on the same site on which they will be executing trades. Fortunately, Schwab makes this easy to do. The website has screens that you can use to view the performance of major North American stock markets, major international markets or some combination of the two. There also screens where you can view what the most active stocks on the day have been. Most of the Schwab market monitor pages also feature news feeds to keep you abreast of the latest breaking headlines.
One thing that does seem to be lacking on the site is a centralized screen for viewing activity across all major asset classes and markets. In contrast to say, Bloomberg, Schwab does not have a page on which you can view the performance of major global equity markets, fixed income markets, and commodity prices. For most investors, this won't be a problem, but very active traders focusing upon macro market movements may want to have access to another site readily available if they want to track correlations in the movement of different markets.
With so many different market monitoring screens available, which one users choose is ultimately a matter of personal preference. As you navigate your way through the various Schwab offerings, you will undoubtedly find the one that best meets your needs.
|Figure 3 - International Indices Market Monitor Screen|
Schwab provides excellent capabilities for researching stocks. A good place to start is with some of the site's equity screening tools. You can either use pre-existing screens that Schwab has set (such as a screen designed to find growth-at-a-reasonable-price or GARP or stocks) or you can build your own screens. If you choose to build your own, you can filter the available universe by criteria such as market capitalization and price earnings ratio. Once you know what stock you want to look at, Schwab's tools for analyzing that stock are fairly robust, and include both fundamental and technical analysis tools.
SEE: How To Effectively Investigate A Stock
|Figure 4 - Individual Stock Overview Screen|
As you can see in the screen above, the summary page for an individual stock provides a recent price chart, as well as details about opening and closing stock prices, daily trading range and volume. You can also find a summary of fundamental data, such as earnings per share or price earnings ratio, as well as recent news headlines and the Schwab equity rating for the security. This summary page also serves as a gateway for more in-depth analysis, which you can access in two ways. The first is that within this summary page, you can click on the sector overview, total return, historical quote, key fundamentals or company profile links in order to get more information on those particular aspects of the company or its stock. If you want even more detail, you can leave this summary page and enter the news, charts, ratings, fundamentals, statements, peers, reports or options and preferreds channels that offer in-depth information and analytics on nearly every aspect of the company and security in question.
Schwab provides users with a great deal of fundamental information on companies. Users can access the full gamut of financial information without leaving the Schwab website, including balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statement. There are also screens that display various financial ratios, such as P/E, price-to-sales and price-to-book. Investors can compare the valuation and performance of a company to its industry peers or the broader market index. Investors also have access to full news feeds on a company and its competitors. Finally, users can read equity research reports from Schwab itself, as well as from Schwab's third-party equity research partners, which include Credit Suisse, Standard & Poor's, Ned Davis Research and Reuters.
SEE: Is Warren Buffett Really A Value Investor?
|Figure 5 - Valuation Summary Screen Comparing Company With Its Industry|
Although its capabilities may not be as robust as software packages designed exclusively for charting, most investors interested in technical analysis will find that Schwab meets their needs. In addition to simple line graphs, Schwab allows users to customize charts with a variety of technical analysis tools, such as Bollinger bands and relative strength indexes. Users can also create graphs of stock price movement with fundamental indicators, such as changes in P/E ratio, earnings announcements or sales trends. These charts can give investors valuable information about how a stock performs, given various changes in its underlying business.
|Figure 6 - Stock Price Chart With Bollinger Bands|
At one time it was difficult for individuals to conduct research on the bond market, but in recent years the availability of information has expanded. In addition to offering some in-house fixed income research, Schwab also has a partnership with J.P. Morgan that allows Schwab clients access to JP Morgan's fixed income research through the Schwab website. This research includes reports on the general trend of the bond market, as well as sector specific research (i.e. Treasuries or high yield) and some research on individual issuers (particularly in the corporate bond market).
The Schwab Learning Center
One excellent research and education tool is the Schwab Learning Center. This portal, accessed from the "research" channel, serves as a collection point for a lot of useful information. The information is organized into different areas, including: platforms & tools, trading strategies, research & analysis, and options, ETFs and global. Some of the information is market-event oriented, with articles on topics such as "China fear is potential investment opportunity." However, much of the information in the Learning Center is less concerned with specific market conditions and instead focuses on how to use the tools Schwab offers to evaluate various investments and execute different strategies. Topics that fall into this category might include: "I'm new to technical analysis, what should I do" or "Find trade opportunities with Screener Plus."
There is a lot of information in the Learning Center and the best way to see what might be helpful to you is to browse around for what catches your eye. The portal includes written articles and videos, as well as information on how to attend live webinars and in-branch seminars on various topics.
|Figure 7 - Learning Center Homepage|
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