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Online Investing Hacks by Bonnie Biafore

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The Best Data for Free

Data that helps you evaluate investments doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg—or anything at all for that matter.

SEC filings, such as the 10-K and 10-Q forms, provide data as reported by the company. Without any value-added manipulation [Hack #15] and [Hack #20] , you have to judge for yourself whether data truly reflects a company’s performance. Many web sites provide information suitable for your initial research and qualitative evaluations. In addition, you can use Excel web queries [Hack #7] to extract data directly from web pages into a spreadsheet for processing and ratio analysis. The only time free data falls short is when you want to feed an investment analysis program [Hack #38] and [Hack #53] that runs on your computer. These programs require data in a specific format, and it’s just too much trouble to format free data to fit their specifications.

When you want to put financial ratios (see Chapter 4) to the test, you need data from financial statements—and lots of it. For almost effortless downloads of financial statement data, there’s only one free alternative: EdgarScan [Hack #18] .

Many web sites provide easy access to SEC filings, such as the 10-K and 10-Q reports. In most cases, you can view the filings on the screen or download them as Adobe PDF, HTML, or rich text format files. If the web site uses HTML tables to display the SEC filing, you can use Excel web queries to extract the data to a spreadsheet. The best web sites in this ...

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