No. of Recommendations: 6
I'm new to Fidelity's discount brokerage service, but I noticed the other day that the S&P Stock reports are available on line to their customers for free. They are pdf files. You need Adobie Acrobat to read them.

I understand in a recent settlement on the analysts scandals, brokers agreed to make stock research reports from three independent firms available to their customers. Possibly that is what is happening. S&P Reports are now free. Check with your broker.

I have often recommended the S&P Corporate books in the library to check out terms especially call provisions of preferred stocks but also standing and details of corporate bonds. Unfortunately that information is not included in the S&P Stock reports I have seen so far. However, you do get a nice two page summary of the stock. I especially like the earnings history.

I prefer to look at 8 qtrs and 5 yrs of earnings data before making an investment. This lets you know if the company is a going business and doing well or fighting some problems. S&P reports give you that data. I have found it difficult to find on the internet otherwise. (Barrons used to be the source of this data for me, but they discontinued publishing earnings and dividends data a few years ago.)

Even so, S&P Reports are not perfect. I recall buying Pfizer stock some years ago based on a Value Line report. Its only after I got the annual report that I learned that at the time they were defendants in the antibiotics antitrust case. It took a while before that was resolved, and the stock did not perform until it was. Somehow, the antitrust case did not appear in the Value Line text that I read.

There's no substitute for thorough research. S&P Reports are a good place to begin when they are available. Sadly they do not cover all stocks.
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