To determine how healthy and promising a company is as a possible investment, you will need to do some digging into it. Here are some online resources that can help. If you are computerless, consider reading
The Little Book That Beats the Market
by Joel Greenblatt or
The Little Book of Value Investing
by Christopher H. Browne (both Wiley, $20).
The company's own Web site. Look for links labeled "About Us," "Corporate Information," "Investor Relations," etc., and try to read through at least the most recent annual report. Even a "Career Opportunities" section can give you insights into how heavily it is hiring, what kind of people it needs, and what various employees do in their jobs. Search engines such as Google.com can help you find a company's Web site.
Online company-data providers, such as
. Financial statements that companies must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are available through such sites and also at
Analyst research reports. Most major online brokerages (such as E-Trade Financial Corp., TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., the Charles Schwab Corp., Fidelity, etc.) offer customers access to a range of Wall Street reports on loads of stocks. Learn more about sorting out brokerages at
Historical P/E ratios and other measures. Look these up at sites such as
moneycentral.msn.com. Just type in a company's ticker symbol, click "go," and you will be able to find gobs of data on it. Historical numbers can be handy. If a company you are examining has a P/E of 22, for example, and you see that over the last five years its P/E has usually been around 30, then you might be looking at an attractive price right now.