NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Does the regular financial commentary from your broker seem too sanitzed? And analysis in major newspapers too mainstream?
It might be time for you to check in on what's being said on financial blogs, the wild west of business commentary.
Technorati, a California-based blog tracking firm, estimates that there are over 13 million blogs today, from 100,000 two years ago. Thousands are financial in nature. So chances are, if you want to invest in it, there's a blog that covers it -- from analysis of Chinese Internet stocks to investigations of juicy items buried in corporate SEC filings (how long has the CEO's son-in-law been on the payroll, anyway?).
The challenge for investors is to cut through all the noise.
"The best blogs have an authentic personality behind them," said Lee Rainie, director at Pew Internet & American Life Project, a Washington, D.C.-based Internet-tracking firm. "Like subscribing to a great financial newsletter, the best bloggers are people who ferret out information and make sense of it in a way to help you figure out what to do with your money."
Despite the grassroots nature, blogs are on the radar screens of corporate America. Earlier this year, Apple Computer won a court order to unveil the identities of bloggers who posted confidential information about a product in development. And Google, Delta Air Lines and Microsoft have all reportedly fired workers for blogs that hit too close to the work front.
But no matter how juicy the information you come across, you have to consider the source. Just like the chat rooms and message boards that became so popular during the Internet boom years, you can't trust everything you read on blogs.
Blogs can provide fertile ground for pump-and-dump schemes, where authors buy a stock, tout it online, and sell after other buyers push the price higher (and then get stuck in the downdraft).
Take a look at some of the top financial blogs below. If all the punditry, trader talk and personal-finance tidbits inspire you, it's easy to start your own blog. Blogger.com and blogit.com are two sites that will get you started.
The best blogs
1. Seeking Alpha -- This is a good place to start blogging, because it's essentially a collection of different blogs. The site provides links to everything from analysis of media and Internet stocks to investing in China. The "Sound Money Tips" link offers simple financial strategies for every day life, from buying versus leasing a car, to selling a home without a realtor.
2. The Asset Allocator! – This site's "SmorgasBoard" section provides a handful of links, each day, to articles on top business stories, and that's just the beginning. Hundreds of links are posted for various categories. They include everything from corporate blogs, top business news sites, U.S. Government office sites, and investment resources. This site is not about original content, but rather one-stop shopping for financial information.
3. CANSLIM Investing - Yes it's a long web address, but also worth bookmarking. This site contains many easy to read pieces on stock suggestions, chart analysis, and market commentary using the CANSLIM approach to investing. (The seven letters each stand for an investing criteria, for example, "L" represents choosing an industry leader over a laggard.)
4. The Kirk Report – The site is written by an individual investor, Charles E. Kirk, who promises more food for thought than blind recommendations, and delivers on that promise. Viewers can sign up for a free, weekly e-mail newsletter. And unlike many financial blogs, the site is ad free!!
5. Big Ben's Investing Blog - This site, although anonymous, is called Big Ben's Finance and Investing Blog. There's good, specific information on certain stocks here, including profit expectations and results. Other recent standout posts include advice on finding an online stock broker, and specs and photo of a new Motorola device reportedly in the works.
6. The Thinking Bull - This anonymous site offers a compilation of online financial articles. The screen is split between articles on trading and investing, and it's a useful stop for articles on various investing strategies.
7. Random Roger's Big Picture – This is a good site for investors looking for investing ideas beyond U.S. stocks. Author Roger Nusbaum is an investment advisor representative for Your Source Financial. His posts include insightful commentary on recent print articles and televised financial segments, and so give readers more than one view point on a topic. His writing style is very down to earth, it feels like you're reading personal letters from your neighbor.
8. Footnoted.org – Author Michelle Leder is a veteran financial journalist who has published a book on spotting red flags in corporate documents ("Financial Fine Print: Uncovering a Company's True Value.") The site's subject matter is in the same, investigative vein, setting the site apart from other blogs. Visitors can search for information by company name, and thus make a quick and easy stop here to find corporate dirt and other tidbits.
9. Stock and commodity trading – This anonymous site is technically oriented, covering day to day stock market activity, gold and currency markets. Interesting links like 'coin stories' (includes posts about coins during the era of Alexander the Great, a 17th century coin with a UFO like design) are fun to read.
10. Thinkblog - This is from ThinkEquity Partners, a research and investment banking company. It's of the more straight and sophisticated blogs around, with high quality commentary from CEO Michael Moe and other luminaries. There are also dozens of links to the brightest minds in business, from economist Larry Kudlow of CNBC fame, to tech writer Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal.
-- Carrie Lee is a business news correspondent for CNN Headline News in New York.