Monday, January 12, 2009

New Database: Morningstar Investment Research Center

After surviving the financial crash (aka "recession") of 2008, many people are trying to figure what investments, outside of stashing dollar bills in mattresses, make the most sense. One tool that might help Sawyer Library users interested in equities, funds and etfs (exchange-traded funds) is our new database, the Morningstar Investment Research Center.

Anyone who has done general web research into mutual funds has probably seen the basic Morningstar snapshot report with its (1 to 5) star rating system. The short snapshot is freely available--if you don't mind obscuring pop-up boxes and relentless video ads--on the free web version of Morningstar. However, our higher-quality "Library Version" of the resource is much more extensive and much less frustrating.

First of all, our subscription version makes available all of those value-added supplementary reports that Morningstar produces. This content includes the mutual fund Analyst Reports and Stewardship Grades that the free version teases you with, but refuses to show you. The stock evaluation is equally detailed with Analyst Research, the Data Interpreter (Snapshot equivalent), as well as nice presentations of valuation and key ratios. And like many of our financial databases (like S & P NetAdvantage and MergentOnline), Morningstar also provides easy access to company financials and SEC filings.

Morningstar also features (stock-oriented) reports on selected industries, as well as a handy-dandy tool called Portfolio X-Ray that helps you discover how diversified you really are by exposing how much stock and sector overlap you have in your various mutual funds. One downside of tools like Portfolio X-Ray is that you might want to store your information in a personal "account" or folder so that you don't have to re-enter all your funds every time you want to check on your portfolio. That personalization is not yet available, unfortunately. But when Sawyer Library was pricing out the product, I pointed out to the company that this was an important and needed enhancement and they told me that they understood this need and were actually working on developing personalized functionality for their Library Version of the product.

In the meantime, Morningstar Investment Research Center has plenty to offer. And when combined with the the stock and mutual fund reports available through our Value Line Research Center, Suffolk SBS/CAS students and faculty can easily get good quality investment information from well-known and respected sources.

....Unfortunately, good research does not make the stock market go up. More's the pity!

Added Note: Because financial databases are so expensive, we have a limited contract (in terms of "simultaneous users") for most of these resources. So please, don't simply close your browser when you finish using a database like MergentOnline, Corporate Affiliations, or Morningstar. Look instead for the link, usually in or near the upper border, that allows you to "Log Out" or "End Session." This will make it more likely that the next user gets into the database easily.

[FIND Morningstar Investment Research Center on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "Business and Management" category.]

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