Google Finance – The Good and the Bad

google-financeFor understanding the financial health of a publicly traded company, Google Finance is one of the best platforms on the internet. The tool was launched in March 2006 and provides insightful data based on historical trading volumes and prices. The website also leverages Google’s proprietary Trends software, allowing users to view the precise reasons behind an increase or decrease in historical stock prices that go back almost 50 years. The platform also provides links to public disclosure documents like quarterly reports, SEC filings, and more. The charts themselves are also better than others on the market, since they can be dynamically scaled to display a designated time frame, and are not merely static images. This will explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Google Finance website over some of its competitors.

Features

Through the platform’s partnerships with NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, real-time data can be viewed on a particular stock. Since Google Finance works on any device connected to the internet, users can quickly check their stocks even while at work or a friend’s house. There is no login required to use the platform, so users do not have to worry about keeping track of their passwords and logging in every time.

Interface

The interface of the platform is relatively clean though it is starting to get a bit outdated. There is a single advertisement, but it is off to the side and barely noticeable. On the right navigation menu, insights can be viewed about recent news stories that are trending for a particular stock. It also plots the news stories on the chart, enabling users to understand the reasons behind a dramatic price swing. There is also information on key basic stats like net marginEBITDAROAROE, and more. There are even links to assist detailed research about news releases, investor relations, and employment opportunities.

Rich Insights

Above the charts themselves, a quick overview is visible about a company’s reported performance. The company’s current market cap, trading volume, shares outstanding, and other statistics are immediately visible. Investors can even view the percentage of company stock that is owned by institutional investors, offering insights that are not typically available on a free platform. Using a search box that is just above the chart, users can search for other companies to do immediate stock comparisons. This is useful when trying to understand how an industry, rather than an individual company, is changing as a result of a trend.

Founder Information

Since corporations are run by people, understanding who is running the organization is often the key to projecting how a stock will likely perform in the future. Using data from public records, the Google Finance website also extracts data from the internet about company founders. The CEO, CFO, President, and all officers are listed on the platform. Each individual officer can be clicked, providing more detailed information about the person’s work history, compensation, age, and more. There are also links to read more on Reuters, which provides more detailed information about even some of the smallest companies. When trying to research a stock, the availability of this information in a single location is very helpful.

The Good

In the free stock website marketplace, few websites offer quality information without charging extra fees. Google Finance makes it easy to obtain quickly an overview of how a company is performing now and in the future. Since the data is offered in real-time, traders can use the platform to make quick decisions about whether to buy, short or hold the stock. Since Google is undoubtedly one of the leaders in data mining and its usage, the ability to leverage the expertise gained from other tools like Google Trends offers a strong differentiating factor.

Results from Google Searches

In recent years, Google has also been making Google Finance data immediately available for individuals who search a particular stock online. Simply searching for something like “NASDAQ :GOOG”, and the information is immediately available. To avoid antitrust allegations, the Google Finance links are listed alongside other competing stock information platforms. However, this does not interfere with the simplicity of getting into the platform directly from a Google search.

Foreign Stocks

Particular versions of Google Trends are available in Hong Kong, Canada, the United Kingdom, and mainland China. These also include specific information from domestic partners, although it is not always as detailed as the US-based platform. However, this can be very useful information when attempting to understand the status of foreign stock. Prices are automatically converted into domestic currencies, reducing the necessity perpetually doing currency conversions. Since some stocks are traded in several different countries, this layer of information is also available on the platform.

The Bad

Since it was released back in 2006, Google has made little effort to continue improving the platform. Although it is now more information-rich due to complete data, it still looks exactly as it did nearly a decade ago. This goes well beyond the interface, to include functionality and features. Although a Google Plus link has been added, the company seems to have neglected the platform in recent years. However, knowing Google they probably have some plans. But as of today, Google Finance still looks almost exactly the same as when it was launched.

The homepage of Google Finance is also a problem since it provides little information. With terabytes of data used to build the platform itself, little of this information is used to provide aggregate insights on the homepage. This is truly a lost opportunity since Google could certainly use the information at its disposal to provide rich insights on trending stocks, projections, and biggest news stories.

Conclusion

Despite some of the Google Finance website’s small shortcomings, is is still probably the best free platform for researching stocks available online. From the ability to understand price changes to the depth of information that is available, there is nothing quite like it online. For stock traders, prospective employees, and curious individuals, the platform can provide abundant information that is available instantly at a glance. For a broad range of traders and even consumers today, Google Finance is highly recommended for learning about publicly traded stocks.

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