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Internet sites abound with helpful information for smart investing in 2005

by Wayne Cheveldayoff, 2004-12-30

Among the various New Years resolutions you adopt, be sure to include the following: “I will be a smarter investor in 2005”

The key to being smarter, of course, is knowledge.

Fortunately, obtaining the knowledge you need doesn’t have to cost you anything beyond having a computer and an Internet connection.

That’s because there’s a lot of free, useful information for Canadian investors scattered on various websites. Here are 11 sites that you should bookmark on your Internet browser.

1. The Investor Education Fund, sponsored by the Ontario Securities Commission, maintains a site at where, among other things, investors can learn how to get the most out of working with investment advisors. Go to the Interactive Centre, then click on Working with Advisors
2. To do some financial planning like figuring out how much you need to save at different assumed rates of return to have a comfortable retirement, you will need an appropriate financial calculator. Mackenzie Financial, a mutual fund company, has several good ones at, under Planning Tools and then Investment Calculators. Many other financial institutions have these as well.
3. To keep up to date on what is happening in world markets, an excellent site is, where you get great summaries each day of developments in stock, bond, currency and commodity markets, as well as economic and company news. For example, if you have energy stocks, you will want to check for early warning signs of trend changes in the daily summaries on oil and natural gas prices.
4. It’s always nice to have a top-ranked group of economists giving you their analysis and forecasts, and this is available for free at, the site maintained by the CIBC’s retail brokerage arm. You not only get detailed commentaries on each major economic indicator shortly after it is released, but a weekly forecast of economic indicators is posted each Monday.
5. To check up on mutual fund performance, and are great resources, showing summaries of objectives, main holdings and performance for each of more than 1,000 mutual funds along with rankings. You want to know which funds are top-ranked? It’s all there.
6. Are you concerned with high management costs and want a low-management expense ratio (MER) mutual fund? The Toronto Star’s site at allows you to sort funds by MER. Click Business, then Fund Quotes.
7. Investors often have trouble with yield-to-maturity calculations for bonds since one needs a special financial calculator to do them. TD Bank provides an online bond calculator at under Planning, Investment Basics, Calculators and Tools.
8. A key site for detailed investment research is, which is operated by the securities regulators as a depository for all prospectuses, financial reports and key news releases for all publicly traded companies and mutual funds in Canada.
9. Want to check out what other investors are saying about a stock? The “Bullboard” chat rooms at could be useful. There usually is some genuine, good-intentioned sharing of information, but investors should be aware that there often also is the spreading of false rumours by participants.
10. If you are interested in income trusts, you may want to check out their stability ratings. DBRS (, click on Income Funds) and Standard & Poor’s (, click on Canada and then Credit Ratings) both offer ratings and commentary on many funds, although the list if far from complete.
11. ROBTV has become Canada’s unofficial investment network, with numerous interviews of chief executive officers and fund managers who share their best stock picks. Its website at has a one-week archive that is a great resource for do-it-yourself investors.

In researching individual stocks, investors really could benefit from having brokerage analysts’ ratings, price targets and commentaries. However, there is no comprehensive source for this among the free sites. It’s always been possible to get analyst research through a full-service broker. In recent years, however, some of the discount brokerages, specifically CIBC Investor Edge, Scotia Online and TD Waterhouse, have begun providing access to the same analyst research that is received by full-service clients and institutions but you have to be a client to get it.

Wayne Cheveldayoff is a former investment advisor and professional financial planner. He is currently specializing in financial communications and investor relations at Wertheim + Co. in Toronto. His columns are archived at and he can be contacted at

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©2004 Wayne Cheveldayoff