Thursday, July 16, 2009 4 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Some useful websites for select data

Reader Daniel Ryan wondered where I got the dividend yield numbers for the various indexes in my prior post and I thought I would list some website sources with useful information. Of course, professionals, especially those with Bloomberg terminals won't have any difficulties getting data, but amateur investors generally do have difficulties.

I remember when I started out, and was more of a newbie than now :), one of the hardest things to find was dividend yields and P/Es on the major indexes. If someone wanted a rough approach, they can look at ETFs but this can be misleading. One can also visit the ETF sponsor website and look at the published data (unfortunately the numbers tend to be published quarterly for the index). You can also get some index fundamentals for S&P 500 from the S&P website (unfortunately, these are published quarterly). The best place I could find timely free information was at the P/E and Yield page of the WSJ Market Data Center. If you ever need to quickly look at the P/Es or dividend yields on DJIA, S&P 500, or NASDAQ, this is a convenient location.

The International Stock Indexes page of WSJ Market Data Center and the Dow Jones Country Indexes page provide a quick glance at global markets.

Another set of data that is hard to find are bond yields and total returns. The Rates & Bonds page of Bloomberg Market Data is useful if you want easy to access information on bond yields for various countries (pick the country using the menu near the top). An important piece of information is the yield curve that is shown on the Bloomberg page. If you ever want to see how the yield curve was at prior periods or how it has changed over time, StockCharts' yield curve page is helpful (requires Java). Generally you can find bond yields on many sites but it is very difficult to find total returns. The Tracking Bond Benchmarks page of WSJ Market Data Center is extremely useful for total returns.

Finally, I have recommended these in the past but I'll repeat my suggestion given how useful they are. Crestmont Research has an amazing set of, freely available, matrixes illustrating S&P 500 returns since 1900. I usually find the 'Stock Index Only' (dividends not reinvested) and 'Tax-exempt Nominal' (includes dividends) matrices to be useful. Unfortunately, they don't have a matrix for a stock index including dividends. Their tax-exempt one is close but it includes transaction costs of 2%/year. In addition to the stock market returns and P/Es that are shown on each matrix, I find the CPI, nominal GDP, and real GDP numbers at the bottom of the matrix page really useful. I usually look at the bottom of this page to see how GDP growth was in the past*.

Crestmont's Dynamic History of interest rates (updated to 2007 only) is also useful. It shows the yield curve, along with CPI, GDP, etc, over the last 100 years**.




SIDE NOTE:

* Looking at the bottom of Crestmont's stock matrix, you can see that real GDP for USA never grew above 4% in the pre-WWII years (starting in 1900) and it only grew 3.4% in the Roaring 20's. This is one reason I am bearish on China/India/etc. It is hard to imagine how China could grow at 7% to 10% real and 15% to 20% nominal while USA, the greatest emerging market in the last 200 years, barely grew much in the early 1900's. Admittedly, China is closer to late 1800's USA than early 1900's USA but USA didn't grow that much better in the 1800's either. I keep saying this but something doesn't make sense: either China's numbers are overstated (fake) or they are highly vulnerable to a massive bust (bust doesn't mean GDP will collapse; GDP can grow very slowly for a long time (i.e. flat)). A country like India also seems questionable but India is less developed and more closer to 1700's USA or 1800's USA so I can see it posting some high growth followed by big declines (for instance, reading the Anatomy of the Bear, you'll notice that investors even in the 1910's and 1920's were paying a lot of attention to how farmers were doing in America because that mattered more than what some industrial company was doing. Similarly, contraray to the press and the hype, information technology, biotechnology, and manufacturing has little impact on the overall economy in India. A poor Monsoon harvest will have far greater impact, and you will notice investors paying attention to harvests.)

** It's difficult to say for sure and I'm not too knowledgeable with bonds but you will notice that a 4% yield on the 20 year bond is not that low by historical standards. It is very low in the post-gold-standard era but it isn't that low if you look at 1900 to 1950. This is one reason I am not really sold on the bond bubble idea. I know everyone, including Warren Buffett, have suggested that the US government bond bubble is massive and bound to burst. Things are certainly different now but how much does that matter? During the gold standard, even when the Federal Reserve existed, governments did not print much money; now there is less control. In the past, US government bonds probably (I'm guessing here) were the #1 credit, except before 1920 (I believe USA, while having a strong balance sheet, wasn't very well known and was perceived weaker than it really was). Going forward, there is the risk that USA may get downgraded from AAA to, probably, AA+ (its debt is much higher and its potential growth in income will be lower.) So, there is some reason to expect slightly higher yields to compensate for the present environment versus the past. But are those how big are those issues? Is there a new norm that says that 4% is too low and bonds will collapse, say down to a yield of 6% (1970,2000)?

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4 Response to Some useful websites for select data

Daniel M. Ryan
July 16, 2009 at 11:25 PM

Many thanks for the links, especially the WSJ one.

MrParkerBohn
July 17, 2009 at 1:12 AM

These links are great, and have inspired me to toss in my 2 cents.

For dividend data on individual stocks, try
http://dividendinvestor.com/
which has data on payments, yields, ex-dividend and payment dates.

For financial statements and general data, http://finance.yahoo.com/ and http://www.google.com/finance are ideal for a first look, but they only have statements going back several years.

http://www.gurufocus.com/ has a great feature of 10 year financials, with charting (if you use financial statements like I do, then it is worth the free registration).  Gurufocus sometimes will not have data on microcaps or ADRs, so I also use the 10 year overview from
http://moneycentral.msn.com/home.asp
(under financial results-->statements-->10yearsummary).

For funds and ETFs, Yahoo finance, under 'holdings' typically shows the P/E, P/B, and sector weightings.

Hopefully this is a help to someone, and if anyone knows a (free) way to get financial data going back 10 or more years, without digging through SEC statements one-by-one, please post.
Thanks!

Sivaram
July 17, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Another useful site for 10 year data is Morningstar...

Greater than 10 year data is really tough and if someone knows of some place, I would like to hear it as well. If you have access to a large public library system, you may have access to Mergent Online. That provides long-term data (I think max 15 years) and sometimes can be accessed through the Internet with a valid library account. Mergent also has info on foreign companies... If I need older long-term data, I just usually look at an older S&P guide or something like that. The numbers can be misleading (any aggregated data can be wrong) but it provides a quick look.

Shalom Hamou
July 17, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Read the Tract: "Plea for a New World Economic Order.", which explains the nature and causes of economic depressions and proposes a plausible alternative solution.

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