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An important update for the Trade-Radar software is available now -- Download it right away!

You may know that Trade-Radar Stock Inspector uses financial data from Yahoo! Recently Yahoo! started adding nearly up-to-the-minute price and volume data to its historical data download. Later in the evening, after the trading day is over, Yahoo! seems to add a second entry for the same day (maybe it's after-hours trading data, they don't say). In any case, all this can cause some inaccurate results in Trade-Radar.

Download the fix right away!

We've built in a way to get around this problem and the new version of Trade-Radar Stock Inspector is now working as it should. Plus we've fixed a couple of minor bugs while we were at it including the dreaded Error 9 (Subscript out of range) error related to occasional problems in the trend analysis functionality when viewing the charts.

Just go tothis special download pageand get the newest version now.

Some readers who are signed up for the Trade-Radar Software Users Group will be receiving an email with this same information. Th…

Earnings Acceleration as economic indicator?

We are about to begin another earnings season so I thought it might be a good idea to review how the most recent earnings season turned out.

I have focused first of all on earnings growth; ie, the change in quarterly earnings on a year-over-year basis. The change was converted into a percentage growth calculation in order to compare growth rates across multiple quarters. For 4Q-2011 (results for 4th quarter 2011 as reported during 1st quarter 2012) the numbers are as follows:

Out of our universe of roughly 5600 stocks that we follow (ETFs are excluded for the purposes of this analysis), 1445 companies showed earnings growth in the most recent quarter that exceeded the earnings growth registered in the previous quarter. This means that 25% of companies actually showed earnings growth acceleration. That seems to be to be pretty solid results.

To widen our net a bit, I then looked at stocks who did not have accelerating growth but whose earnings growth year-over-year was at least still p…

Commission-Free ETFs now available from E*TRADE

E*TRADE recently rolled out commission-free trading of a select group of ETFs from Wisdom Tree, Global-X and Deutsche Bank (db-X funds).

No doubt, this is in reaction to a similar move that Charles Schwab made last year and that proved popular with investors and investment advisors alike.

In any case, this is good news for investors who happen to have an E*TRADE account. Not only does this reduce trading costs, it provides a wide-ranging set of ETFs that can be used to construct highly diversified portfolios. ETFs include target date funds, currency funds, numerous single-country and global ETFs and an interesting set of style-based ETFs. Examples of the styles available include dividend focused, earnings focused, small cap, mid cap and large cap and combinations of the above. The one drawback is that U.S. sector funds are largely absent. For example, there are no tech ETFs available.

The main question, though, is whether these ETFs are good investments. I can say that many of them, …