Everything you read when it comes to learning how to invest tells you that research is the foundation of profitable investment choices. One of the best research tools for the fundamental investor is found at SeekingAlpha.com.
Seeking Alpha is an investment research service fueled by more than 7,000 contributors who produce more than 10,000 articles per month, with each having a unique stance on the topics they cover. Investors can benefit quite a bit from the company’s free services, but if you’re willing to pay for the premium service, even more tools are unlocked.
What Is Seeking Alpha?
At its core, Seeking Alpha is a crowdsourcing website that sources valuable investment research through a vast consortium of contributors. Seeking Alpha was designed for individual investors who are interested in choosing individual stocks.
The vast majority of the content on the website is available for free for the first 10 days after publication. However, if you’re interested in in-depth research, stock screening tools, and proprietary rating systems, you’ll need to sign up for one of the company’s subscription services.
There are three different pricing models available.
- Basic. The Basic subscription is absolutely free. With this subscription, you’ll gain access to free articles for the first 10 days after their publication as well as some portfolio management tools. For most casual investors who aren’t interested in diving deep into research and fundamental analysis, the Basic subscription is a great fit.
- Premium. The Premium service unlocks all articles on the website regardless of their age. Premium members also get access to a customized news platform, an intuitive stock screener, proprietary Quant ratings, unlimited conference call transcripts, earnings call audio, and exclusive author ratings. In exchange, members agree to pay $29.99 per month or $239.88 paid annually ($19.99 per month). You can also try before you buy with the company’s 14-day free trial.
- Pro. The Pro service comes with a price tag that will turn off most mom-and-pop investors at $299 per month or $2,388 paid annually ($199 per month). Designed for investors who manage large portfolios, the Pro service offers a curated collection of the most in-depth research offered through the platform.
As a research-centric service, the vast majority of key features offered by Seeking Alpha have to do with getting to know the companies you invest in before risking your hard-earned money on them. Some of the most exciting features you’ll gain access to when you sign up include:
Thorough Investment Research
With more than 7,000 contributors offering up more than 10,000 articles per month, you’ll have everything you need to research just about any publicly traded company and make a quality investment decision.
The vast majority of these articles are labeled as investment ideas that fall into one of the following categories:
- Long Ideas. Long ideas are investment ideas centered around stocks that the authors believe will head up in value in the long term.
- IPO Analysis. Initial public offerings, or IPOs, are a hot topic among investors, and tools that help determine whether an IPO is priced fairly and has strong potential to grow in value are invaluable. The IPO analysis offered by Seeking Alpha is one of the best ways to go about analyzing an IPO trade.
- Quick Picks. Quick picks are articles centered around stocks based on a specific investment theme or fundamental data.
- Fund Letters. Fund letters is a curated list of select letters from professionally managed funds to their investors outlining the investing landscape and their goals moving forward.
- Editor’s Picks. Editor’s picks are articles that are hand-selected by the editors at Seeking Alpha based on in-depth research, the author’s track record, and other factors.
- Stock Ideas by Sector. The Stock Ideas by Sector section of the Seeking Alpha website lets you quickly scan through any sector of the market.
Beyond the basic search functions of the website and access to all articles regardless of how old they are, Premium members also enjoy a customizable news dashboard that displays articles on stocks and investment strategies they’re interested in first, making combing through the vast sea of content on SeekingAlpha.com far easier.
Note that although investment ideas are shared on the company’s website, nothing on the site constitutes investment advice. The author couldn’t possibly know your unique goals, financial capabilities, risk tolerance, and other factors that make you, well, you. The platform is designed as a research tool. You should never blindly make an investment just because the title of an article on the platform suggests big gains are ahead.
The article sidebar is a feature that’s only available to Seeking Alpha Premium subscribers, but it alone is worth the subscription fee for many investors.
When making investment decisions based on what you read online, it’s important to validate the source of the research and ensure the author and the stock are worth following in the first place. The Article Sidebar makes this simple to do at a glance by offering a brief bullish and bearish synopsis of the stock, stock ratings from the authors on the platform, a real-time stock price chart, and ratings for the author who contributed the piece.
Technology and computerized trading algorithms have reshaped the investing industry. Today, the market is more active than ever before, and algorithms provide a trove of data on the potential of any investment.
However, the details offered up by these algorithms are often difficult to understand, and therefore often are ignored by novice investors.
The good news is that Seeking Alpha offers its readers quant ratings, which algorithmically rate stocks in an easy-to-understand way. These ratings are based on five key factors: value, growth, profitability, EPS revisions, and momentum.
Factor investing has become a popular concept. The idea is that by investing in stocks that come with risk premiums like small-cap, value, growth, and other characteristics, you’ll be able to beat the average market performance in your portfolio.
When analyzing these factors, Seeking Alpha offers an easy-to-understand score ranging from A+ to F.
- REIT Scorecard: On scorecards for real estate investment trusts (REITs), Seeking Alpha provides scores based on funds from operations as well as adjusted funds from operations.
- Dividend Stock Scorecard: Dividend stocks are a great way to generate income through your investments. The Dividend Stock Scorecard takes various factors into account, considering not only whether the stock pays competitive dividends, but also whether those dividends are sustainable.
Earnings Call Transcripts & Recordings
Earnings reports are some of the most important events in the stock market. Every quarter, publicly traded companies are required to provide updated financial information, letting investors in on the financial stability and growth prospects for the company.
Basic members have access to earnings call transcripts, but if you want to listen to the recorded calls, you’ll need to upgrade to a Premium subscription.
Earnings Estimates & Surprises
Basic members have access to past earnings data from the company’s they’re interested in as well as information on dividends.
For premium members, the data becomes a bit more intuitive, offering analyst forecasts and earnings surprises, which show the extent to which the company beat or missed earnings expectations in recent quarters.
Across Wall Street, there are tons of investment grade funds and investing professionals that manage money for individual investors. These fund managers often provide quarterly letters to their investors outlining the state of the market and how they plan on capitalizing on it in the future.
The Notable Calls section of the website, only accessible by Premium and Pro members, is a curated list of these quarterly announcements from some of the most well-respected hedge funds and investment-grade funds.
Intuitive Stock Screener
Stock screeners make it easy to find the types of opportunities you’re looking for in the stock market. It seems as though every investing-centric website offers one. However, the screener offered by Seeking Alpha is one of the best in the business.
As with any stock screener, you’ll be able to screen opportunities by volume, sector, stock price, and more. However, what’s unique about the Seeking Alpha screener is that it lets you screen stocks based on the company’s proprietary Quant Ratings and Factor Scores.
So, if you’re looking for a technology stock that has both a high Quant Rating and Factor Score and is experiencing exceptionally high volume, you won’t have any issues digging an opportunity up.
Personalized alerts are available to all Seeking Alpha subscribers. These alerts come via email, informing you of any news and analyst upgrades or downgrades of the stocks you’re interested in.
While the service is available to all users, Premium members get all the data in the email they receive, while Basic members must click to the Seeking Alpha website to see the full information associated with the alert.
Investors are able to connect their live investment portfolios to Seeking Alpha and monitor their holdings through the platform. Through the portfolio monitoring service, you’ll be able to track your portfolio and pinpoint the investments that are doing best and worst for you.
Moreover, when you attach your portfolio, you’ll receive alerts when news and opinion articles are published around a ticker you invest in. Premium members enjoy faster time-to-delivery, ensuring you’re one of the first to see the news on stocks you invest in.
Seeking Alpha is one of the most successful investing-centric websites online today, and that popularity didn’t just happen out of the blue. There are several benefits to taking advantage of the services provided by the company, the most significant being:
1. Investing Ideas
Finding quality investment opportunities is arguably one of the most difficult parts of the investing process. Seeking Alpha is essentially a curated list of the best investment ideas produced by thousands of authors.
Considering the sheer scale of content produced, you’ll be able to find quality ideas no matter whether your preferred style of investing is growth, value, or income.
2. Free Services
For many investors, the content available under the Basic membership will provide everything you need to make wise decisions in the stock market.
3. Proprietary Scores
The proprietary scoring system used by the company to provide at-a-glance information about stocks is second to none. Not only does the company take general fundamental data into account when creating these scores, it adds in a risk premium factor that’s difficult to find elsewhere.
4. Portfolio Monitoring
When managing your own self-directed investment portfolio, monitoring your performance in the market is key. The company makes this simple for both free and paid users, including email alerts when important news is released about a stock you’ve invested in.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to consider signing up for this service. However, as with any rose, there are some thorns to be mindful of before grabbing a fistful and taking a whiff:
1. Not the Best Option for Technical Traders
If you’re a swing trader or day trader who relies heavily on technical analysis, you won’t find much value in the service. The company’s core focus is on providing fundamental data and research, and it leaves most technical data to companies that focus on providing that type of information.
2. Many Features Are Found Elsewhere Free
While the company does make it easy to access tools in one space, much of what it provides can be found elsewhere for free. For example, there are tons of websites that publish free opinion articles on stocks, and a simple search on Google will provide a list of articles on the stocks you’re interested in.
Moreover, stock screeners, portfolio monitoring services, and earnings data are all widely available for free online. However, it is worth mentioning that most free services don’t go as far in depth as the tools available at Seeking Alpha.
3. It’s Expensive
Sure, $29.99 per month doesn’t sound like much, but if you have a beginner investment portfolio that consists of $1,000 in stocks, you’ll have to earn a return of nearly 3% per month just to cover the cost of the service. As such, the Premium service is most worthwhile for investors who have a portfolio value of at least $10,000.
4. No Buy Recommendations
Seeking Alpha is not an alert service. In fact, the disclaimer on all articles on the website suggest that investors should make their own decisions. There are plenty of services with similar pricing that actually offer alerts, recommending when investors should buy or sell stocks. If you’re looking for an alert service that does so, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
All in all, Seeking Alpha is a great tool for the fundamental investor who takes the time to research what they’re buying before diving into a stock. With so many authors and articles on the platform, investors are able to see stocks they’re interested in from multiple points of view, helping to avoid investing based on a few skewed opinions.
Moreover, Seeking Alpha is a great add-on service to those who use the Motley Fool Stock Advisor, which gives two trade ideas per month. By cross-referencing the ideas provided through the Motley Fool or another alert service with the in-depth research Seeking Alpha provides, you’ll be able to form educated opinions about whether the recommendations are worth following.