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Researching Dividend Stocks on the Internet

Tools, data, and analysis previously accessible only to investment professionals are now readily available on the Web 24/7 and are better and faster than ever. Many Web sites even provide free stock screeners that enable you to search for stocks by price, dividend yield, price -to-earnings ratio (P/E), earnings per share (EPS), and more. Using the Internet’s rich financial resources, you can quickly whittle a list of 4,000 stocks down to about 25 in less than a minute.

Hunting on Yahoo! Finance

The first finance aggregator (easily accessible collection of headlines, articles, and other newsworthy materials from a wide variety of sources), Yahoo! Finance remains the king. It’s chock-full of information on every company, with news and commentary from 45 well-known financial Web sites. It also provides personal finance stories and exclusive videos.

To narrow your list of candidates, you start by entering selection criteria in Yahoo’s Stock Screener. Go to finance.yahoo.com, mouse over the Investing tab, click Stocks, click Stock Screener, and then click Launch HTML Screener. The Stock Screener appears, prompting you to enter selection criteria.

The Stock Screener displays a list of companies that match the search criteria you entered. Click the ticker symbol for one of the companies in the list, and a new browser window opens with charts and information about the stock and the company.

Googling on Google Finance

Fans of Google can celebrate the fact that in addition to serving as a killer search engine, Google offers an outstanding and very easy-to-use stock screener. To access it, fire up your Web browser, go to google.com/finance and click Stock Screener so that the Google Stock Screener appears. You can start narrowing your list of candidates by entering selection criteria near the top of the page.

As you adjust your criteria, Google’s Stock Screener updates a list of all and only those stocks that match your search criteria. (If the list doesn’t automatically update, press Enter after you change your criteria.)

For a quick stock price, go to the Google Finance homepage, type the ticker symbol into the search box, and click Search.

Shining a light with Morningstar

Well known as the one of the best firms for the analysis of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, Morningstar also analyzes individual stocks. On top of a stock screener and much of the same information provided by Yahoo! Finance and Google Finance, Morningstar also provides a staff of unbiased analysts offering commentary on the markets and 1,700 individual stocks. Check it out at morningstar.com/Cover/Stocks.html.

Finding the real data at the SEC

No matter where you get your stock ideas from, the real hardcore data comes from the companies themselves. According to U.S. law, all publicly traded companies must file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) every quarter. These quarterly reports contain the company’s income statement, which tells you if the company posted a profit, and its balance sheet, which lists the company’s assets and liabilities. You can also find filings listing all legal stock sales and purchases by company insiders.

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