There are a number of great tools you can use to simplify and streamline your investment process. An investor armed with a good stock screener, an investment checklist, and a stock watch list is set for success.
There’s a number of reasons to create a watch list. First, it’s an easy way to track your portfolio. It keeps you updated on all the news and information around the stocks and funds you own.
A stock watch list is most useful for tracking those great companies you run across through research but don’t meet your price requirement yet. You can try to remember it or you can write it down.
You ever go grocery shopping without writing down what you need. It works when you’re just grabbing bread and milk. But what if its several dozen items?
Shopping for stocks without a watch list is like grocery shopping by memory. There’s a 100% chance you’ll forget something (it’s always the one item you absolutely want), you’ll buy something you don’t need, and spend too much. It may work at the grocery store but it’s a bad recipe for investing.
It’s a lot easier to remember the stocks if you’re tracking them somewhere. This way, you keep an updated list of great companies you want to own. Then, when a stock drops on some short-term bad news, you can pick it up for a steal.
You can literally write the stocks down on a notepad, build your own spreadsheet, or you can take advantage of sites that offer free watch list tools.
Free Stock Watch Lists
With a watch list, you create a personal list of “best stocks” to own when the price is right. The two sites below are both free and easy to use. You will have to register first to use the tool.
Morningstar Watch List
Morningstar is the leader in independent financial research and its free watch list shows it. The Morningstar Portfolio Manager lets you set up multiple lists for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. You can track your current portfolio and investments you’re still researching and waiting to own.
It allows you to track over 200 metrics for each stock or fund and lets you set up email alerts for over two dozen metrics. You can even use it to build custom fund portfolios to test different allocation mixes and performance. Best of all, you have access to Morningstar Ratings, articles, news, and market information for everything you track.
Yahoo! Watch List
Yahoo Finance offers the My Portfolios tracker that works great for watch lists. I used it for years before switching to Morningstar. It lets you create multiple watch lists and set up custom views from over 90 metrics. It even has basic email alerts for big price changes. The one standout is the notes section you can add that lets you jot down important information you come across. While it’s not as robust as the Morningstar watch list, it’s a good alternative.
Check Your Broker
I’ve used several free watch lists over the years including one from my broker of choice TD Ameritrade. Like any top online broker, it offers a number of great research tools for account holders. The watch list is just one. If Morningstar and Yahoo don’t make the cut, your current broker might be all you need.