YCharts is an investment research data service that could be called the web based version of a Bloomberg Terminal. In essence, YCharts is making a prettier, more data metrics, and user-friendly Yahoo or Google Finance while delivering hard-to-calculate data in a quick and easy format. We have updated this YCharts review for 2014.
The big question about YCharts is their service worth the cost where a good portion of it is already available for free with Google and Yahoo Finance?
In short, maybe. Founded in 2009 and with almost $8 million in venture capital funding, YCharts is targeting a niche missing in the investment research arena.
In 2011 the long standing financial research company Morningstar invested in YCharts. At first glance one might think Morningstar is a direct competitor for YCharts, when in fact it’s not.
Morningstar targets more individual and casual investors, while YCharts is going for the semi-professional and professional Wall Street traders types: RIAs, hedge fund managers, etc. That group needs much more investment equity research and metrics to produce alpha. Data accuracy is important as well, and something the free services sometimes lack. YCharts features cater to this audience very well.
Since our initial review of YCharts service they added more advanced filtering, technical charts, Excel add-in, and news feeds. Making an already decent service much better.
YCharts Lite vs. YCharts Professional
For this review I’ve purchased YCharts Professional Edition which was $299/month for me. I’m not sure what the cost is for new members today, as that information is not publicly revealed. I suspect YCharts does give volume discounts for firms who want to purchase multi-seat licenses. You will have to contact them to ask.
YCharts Professional adds these features when compared to YCharts Lite:
- Excel Add-in – A powerful feature that allows users to perform their own data analysis
- Stock Screener – A very flexible way to narrow your equity search criteria
- Economic Data Verification – Go behind the numbers to the original data sources
- Sector and Industry Data – Get the latest news and compare stocks in the same sector
- 4,500 Financial Metrics – Much more data analysis then available on other free services, so you don’t have to do the legwork
Since our last review they have removed the free version of their service, which is unfortunate. You can still use the site anonymously for a specific amount of visits, but cannot create watch lists or anything that requires a login when revisiting the site.
Anonymous users can now see all financial data history (previously was limited to just five years), but limits which information metrics you can see.
With the paid service every datapoint can be charted – allowing you to see visually how a financial metric changes over time.
Paid users have access to all financial benchmarks, and the ability to chart this data online via their YCharts account. The level of detail is incredible, and from previous research very useful. You can slice and dice data over time and compare to stocks to other stocks or over 4,500 metrics including economic data.
When it comes to numbers, if you can find it on an income statement, balance sheet, or statement of cash flows, you can turn it into a ratio and chart it with YCharts. Compared to the online free services YCharts data is much more comprehensive, but this should be no surpise for a paid service.
Users also have the ability to download and export data and charts for their own personal use (up to 100 per month for Lite, and 500 for Professional).
YCharts stock screener is unmatched, which allows you to sort through all publicly-traded companies based on whatever financial metrics you find most appealing.
Should You Use YCharts?
YCharts is a great way to easily compile investment research. Its stock screener is one of the best, even at YCharts Professional price point, given that it allows you to screen an average quality database for above-average ratios, and fundamental data that you cannot screen on free alternatives.
However, this is not a tool you should buy just to become a better investor. It doesn’t have the detail necessary to take you from the beginning to the end of the investment process. Morningstar does have tools available for that type of individual investor, but is more geared towards the casual/retail investor.
It’s graphing functionality is gold standard on the web, and easily beats out any of the free or commercial competitors.
YCharts finds itself in the middle tier of equity research services: Much lower priced than a Bloomberg Terminal, but more costly than the web based free services. For the active semi-professional to professional investor YCharts is decent, and much cheaper than the dedicated terminal alternatives.
In so far as helping investors research good potential investments, it’s worth a look. But keep in mind this is no Capital IQ or Bloomberg Terminal. It’s a more user-friendly Yahoo or Google Finance capable of turning anything into a chart. Whether or not that functionality is worth at least $650/year is up to the investor.
YCharts unfortunately no longer offers a free ad-based service. The free alternatives might be sufficient for many investors. But then again, more than likely the free services aren’t the right audience for the YCharts service.