Personal Finance: Internet Investor - Company Research Is a Tangled Web - So Why Not Do It Online?

Article excerpt

Modesty no doubt forbids my fellow columnist Brian Tora from mentioning the fact but his firm, Greig Middleton, has launched a fund analysis research service on the Internet.

But before you reach for your browser to bookmark it, I should point out that it will cost you pounds 6,000 a year to subscribe! Greig Middleton is pitching a highly technical and detailed research tool at professional intermediaries and fund managers.

However, the launch of this service, together with an inquiry from a reader, turned my thoughts this week to research more generally. A member of an investment club has been given the task, this month, of researching the banking sector for the club's next purchase and has asked me how to go about this online.

All major companies now have corporate websites of varying usefulness for the private investor. Most will have archives of their press releases and results for you to peruse. Taking a look at these sites will give you a feel for the way in which a company perceives itself.

More detailed information is also readily available, with several websites offering share price information. Unless you are actually trading minute- by-minute over the Internet, real-time pricing is less important than access to a historical database. For research and analysis purposes it is more useful to know how a company's share price has performed over the past five years than over the past five minutes.

Several of the online brokers already offer you access to this kind of information but it is also available to those who do not trade via the Internet through a number of websites. Among the most directly useful for pure equity research is the site run by Hemmington Scott. This began as an adjunct to the admirable books which the company publishes containing detailed historical results for all UK-listed companies. But, since then, it has grown in stature.

Hemmington Scott now offers its own free Internet Service Provider on: hemscott. …