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Company spotlight Ally Invest Built for investors who want to manage their own portfolios, Ally’s self-directed trading gives you all the tools you need to buy and trade stocks, optimize your portfolio and stay on top of the market, all without the need for... Read Reviews
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Three of the strongest forces to affect the markets, and subsequently your portfolio, are economic growth rates, interest rates, and the inflation rate. It's relatively easy to track each of these separately by looking at GDP data, the yield on the 10-year treasury, or the latest CPI chart. But understanding how these interact with each other is the key to predicting market moves and protecting your portfolio. After several years of stagnation, interest rates and inflation are back on the rise. Rates are at their highest level in four years and don't look to slow down anytime soon. Inflation meanwhile is around 2.5% along with a global economy that appears to be growing healthy and strong. But these currents are what drive markets, and investors need to know how to navigate the waters if they want to keep their portfolios in the black. A complex relationship Nothing in the economy exists in a vacuum. A change in bond yields affects the value of the dollar which impacts stock prices that in turn can influence commodities. The market is a dynamic… Read more

The traditional portfolio consists of stocks and bonds and little to nothing of other asset classes. Adding more than that to the mix has generally been left up to professionals to handle. But with the advent of ETFs and other asset creations, everyday investors now have relatively easy access to all sorts of alternative investments from futures to long/short equity funds to derivative investments. Investors can use alternative investments to boost returns or mitigate risk and with a plethora of options to choose from, there's virtually no strategy off-limits. The market for alternatives is growing fast with more than $300 billion invested in alternative mutual funds and ETFs as of 2012. Giving investors the ability to profit in any type of market seems like a powerful tool, but with limited data, their actual effectiveness varies. The role of alternatives in a portfolio The alternative investment space can be broken up into five main categories: equity-based funds, nontraditional bond funds, commodities, multi-currency funds, and derivatives. Let's take a look at how each one applies to a portfolio. The equity-based category can… Read more

Building a stock portfolio is no easy task – there are thousands of publicly listed stocks in the US alone. Trying to filter that down to a portfolio made up of 10 to 20 stocks can seem like an overwhelming challenge. But by keying in on just a few specific ratios, investors can narrow down their search options to a manageable level. Stock screeners come with any brokerage account and some are offered online for free as well. While there are a few differences, the ratios we'll be discussing can be found in any stock screener. By isolating just a few, you can eliminate worthless stocks and focus just on the ones that fulfill your criteria. Basic stock screening While certain industries are exceptions, most stocks can be filtered out by looking for specific ratios and fundamentals. Depending on whether you're searching for dividend payers, value stocks, or growth stocks, you'll likely change your search criteria as well. Regardless, there are a few important criteria you should know so you can search for the best stocks as efficiently as you… Read more

Equities are not all the same thing. Even beginning investors know that they're broken up into categories based on industry or sector of the economy the company participates in. Building a portfolio by mixing up economic sectors is one of the most basic tenets of diversification, but knowing what sectors to invest in isn't so easy. One of the most promising sectors right now is biotechnology. Advances in medicine are happening on a daily basis and money is pouring into the industry with venture capital surpassing $10 billion in 2017 alone. For investors looking for fast growth and long-term returns, including a biotech stock is a no-brainer. Biotech basics Unlike other industries like mining or consumer staples, biotechnology isn't quite as easy to understand. The industry doesn't operate like a standard business where price-to-earnings ratios and sales numbers define a company's real value. Research and development costs can be staggeringly high while revenues streams can take years to actually become net positive. One of the biggest uncertainties in biotech investments is the way the FDA drug approval process works. Phase… Read more

  Technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy. Tune into any financial news network and if they aren't already discussing a tech company, it won't be long before they do. There's even an entire index made up primarily of technology companies – the NASDAQ. There's no shortage of promising tech companies out there but the field is largely led by just a handful of giants. While new players will undoubtedly come onto the scene in the next several years, investors looking for long-term strategies should stick to companies that have demonstrated success. Companies with staying power There's a nickname Wall Street has given the top technology companies in the market right now – FANG. That stands for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (now known as Alphabet). Out of that list, three of them are technological conglomerates that are involved in far more projects than their original business. These tried and true leaders in the industry have the innovative capacity and management teams to keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Facebook – The company that… Read more