I just discovered that Google Finance was launched. I figured it was only a matter of time before Google (GOOG) developed a stock market site. I took some time this afternoon to take this beta site for a test drive.
My first impression of the site was not very good. I was very underwhelmed by Google Finance’s homepage. It only displays a single column centered in your browser window that starts with an interactive list and graph of the market indexes. This section is followed by a list of top financial news that looks like it comes directly from Google News.
I had kind of given up on Google Finance, since it appeared to offer nothing new until I checked my blog stats later in the day. I noticed several people had just come to Fat Pitch Financials via Google Finance. Apparently, many of my blog articles are now prominently listed in the bottom right hand corner section of the individual stock pages on Google Finance in a section called “Blog Posts”. For example, if you visit the Google’s page for K-Swiss you’ll notice my article on Exploring Greenblatt’s Magic Formula is listed (at least it was today). That’s pretty cool!
The best feature of all is that Google Finance uses Reuters financial data. Five years of financial statements are available in very “clean” tables that will be very easy to import into Excel for analysis. I think I’ll be building a fancy spreadsheet this coming week to automatically pull this information in for fundamental analysis. The cluttered nature of most financial sites makes it rather difficult to create a spreadsheet that automatically loads in data from financial statements, but this probably won’t be a problem with Google Finance.
Other interesting features include an automatically generated list of related companies and a clear listing of the key members of the company’s management team. I was also surprised that Google Finance boldly links to Yahoo Finance for comparison charts and research reports. There are also links to major holders at MSN Money, corporate events at AOL, analyst estimates at TheStreet.com and options info from Market Watch. Google Finance appears not to fear cross linking in order to get all the best features on one page. I like that, but I’m sure their competition has mixed feelings about this.
The final feature that will be interesting to watch are the company discussion groups that Google has established. Google has indicated that they will be moderating these discussion groups. So far it looks like moderation is working to keep away the junk that the Yahoo Message Boards have attracted. The message rating and starring features will probably come in handy in the future when there are more discussion posts to follow. There is also a portfolio feature, but it does not appear to be anything special at this time.
It will be interesting to see how Google develops this site. Many of Google’s past beta sites have added several enhancements before they went final. In conclusion, while Google Finance doesn’t look like anything special at first, it does provide a few interesting features that leverage Google’s search technology and clean interface. I’ll likely be returning to Google Finance for data and blog posts on stocks on a regular basis, but I’m not ready to give up on my favorite site, Yahoo Finance.