Whether your portfolio is small or large, the market’s daily gyrations can be nerve-racking. The thought of a favorite stock tanking in a matter of seconds leads many investors to compulsively check their portfolios 10, 20, or even 50 times a day. Instead of constantly interrupting your work, you can set up a group of portfolio alerts to notify you when something’s going on with an individual stock or your entire portfolio. Several popular financial sites offer alerts for free, but you can access outstanding alert functionality when you subscribe to Morningstar’s Premium service. In addition, some brokers offer automated alerts as part of their online brokerage services.
Alerts tell you when events occur so that you don’t have to check for them. For example, you can set alerts that trigger when an individual stock’s price or volume increases or decreases more than a specific percentage value; when a company announces quarterly earnings, distributes a dividend, or announces a stock split; or when analysts downgrade or upgrade a stock rating.
Although long-term investors don’t care about daily price variations, it is important to know that a company’s stock price has shot way up or down. You probably don’t want to receive alerts every hour or even every day about stock prices—unless it’s a company you’re watching very closely. Stock prices are notoriously volatile, to the point that a 10 percent increase or decline in a day is a regular event for many stocks. Set price ...