Bloomberg, Charles Schwab, Ameritrade. Everyone has a financial news and data service. However, very few are free and as simple to use as Google Finance. Although still in Beta mode, Google Finance provides an easy way to search for stock quotes, research companies, maintain portfolios, and interact with financial analysts and investors from all over the world.
To get started, you'll need a Google account. If you don't have one already, go to google.com/accounts and click "Create an account now." Simply fill out the form, agree to the Terms of Service, and voila! You're ready to get started with Google Finance.
From the accounts page, enter google.com/finance in your browser and you will land on the Google Finance homepage. In the text box at the top of the screen, enter a stock symbol or company name and add the phrase "get quotes". Review the most recent Market summary, browse through the top stories of the day, or scroll through the latest valuations in world markets, currencies, and bonds, all from the comforts of your personalized home page.
On the left hand navigation bar, you'll find Markets, News, Portfolios, Stock Screener, and Recent Quotes. Click Portfolios. Then, click on Create a Portfolio on the right side of the page, enter a name, and click OK. Once you have a portfolio, you can easily add symbols and transaction data to track performance on a regular basis. In addition, with the handy stock screener, you can search for various stocks based on a slew of criteria ranging from Market cap to P/E ratio; you can even add your own metrics.
After a company is retrieved, Google Finance correlates its financial news and data with its stock performance. Literally, from one story to the next, with interactive charts, you can see how the stock was affected!
In addition, Google Finance maintains an up-to-date listing of officers and directors, websites, addresses, blogs, and research tools; it also allows you to compare performance with other companies within the same line of business or industry. For example, a search on Microsoft will show financial details of competitors like Google, Yahoo!, IBM, Apple, Oracle, and many more.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In today's global economy, it's important to know how to access up-to-date and accurate information at your fingertips. With Google Finance, you have all of that and more. Free and available to the savvy investor, Google Finance is continually evolving to become the most robust, comprehensive, and user-friendly financial tool around.