YCharts is an up and coming data service that allows investors the opportunity to see key metrics for any stock with a variety of extremely attractive charts. In essence, YCharts is making a prettier, more user-friendly Yahoo or Google Finance while delivering hard-to-calculate data in a quick and easy format.
Investors have likely seen YCharts around the internet. Charts can be seamlessly embedded on a website, such as this chart for Apple’s market cap over the past 5 years:
That couldn’t be easier! The embedded tools and ease of use make it a great tool to compare one or many pieces of data from one or many different companies.
YCharts Free vs. Advanced and Professional
Free users can see most financial data for up to five years, which is in line with what users can find on Morningstar, another excellent source for financial data. Each datapoint can be charted, too, allowing you to see visually how a financial metric changes over time.
Paid advanced users have access to historical data spanning decades, and the ability to chart this data online via their YCharts account. An advanced account (which costs $49 per month) gives you access to 100+ advanced stock metrics like EV/EBITDA, shares outstanding, and even individual income statement line-items like “interest expenses.” The level of detail is incredible. 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.
Advanced users also have free reign to download and export charts for their own personal use (up to 100 per month), and can use YCharts unmatched stock screener, which allows you to sort through all publicly-traded companies based on whatever financial metrics you find most appealing.
The last membership option is YCharts Pro, which costs $199 per month, but includes another 1500+ advanced stock metrics and the ability to export all data with a handy Excel plug-in. They also offer dedicated customer support for their professional members. Only very heavy users would ever need such an option given that most of the functionality can be had with the Advanced membership, which costs $150 less per year.
YCharts Data Issues
YCharts is a “working man’s” Bloomberg Terminal or Capital IQ license. Bloomberg and Capital IQ collect SEC data and make it available through a software suite for up to the minute accurate data on any stock on the public markets. Unfortunately, both services are out of the reach of most individual investors. Bloomberg terminals cost more than $20,000 per year, per computer. It’s tremendously expensive to find, verify, then database billions of pieces of financial data.
YCharts has to cut corners somewhere. It partnered with Zack’s for investment data, and so far, I’ve found it to be mostly reliable.
Note: mostly reliable.
One of the biggest problems plaguing investors is the fact that each company is forever changing. Just look at the SEC filings for any one of your favorite stocks. Take Microsoft as an example; there have been more filings in the past few months than an investor would ever care to read. In a few instances, stocks that I found via YCharts screener didn’t live up to the attributes I selected for screening after looking at the hard data in the company’s annual and quarterly reports.
This would be more forgivable if YCharts showed users what data it was using to arrive at each ratio. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Much like how Yahoo Finance or Google Finance take data derived from quarterly and annual filings to create their free financial information, YCharts is (presumably) automatically pulling data which may or may not be accurate.
Furthermore, YCharts’ data is only most useful to people who have a true understanding of the companies they’re evaluating. One can use the free version of YCharts to evaluate…say, Target relative to its peers. But without knowing what makes this data actionable, it isn’t necessarily valuable.
YCharts Bottom Line
YCharts is a great way to easily compile data for your own use, or for use on a website. Its stock screener is one of the best, even at YCharts Pro 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.
In so far as helping investors find 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 $49 or $199 per month is up to the investor.
As a free user, though, YCharts will remain one of my go-to places for quick and dirty numbers and comparisons to peers to further investigate with primary sources of information. In due time, I can see where YCharts functionality will be worth every bit of a $49 price point.