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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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Morningstar $69 One year special

From an email. Don't know if it is limited to just one use or not. Go for it.


  • Pardon my ignorance, and I am inquiring sincerely here (not rhetorically):

    What is the value that PAID users receive from M*.....? What are the top 3 things that paid (vs. free) users find most useful...?
  • my top 2:
    Portfolio xray
    Fund analysis

    These are the two primary ones for me. I like being able to see how the top 25 holdings are distributed in my funds, it tells you how many funds have the same stocks ( and how much) trying to limit too much crossover. Some of the fund analyses can only be viewed as subscriber. I dropped the service for 6 months but realized I missed being able to use these two benefits.
  • Your local library may offer some aspects of M* premium for free.
  • One fund detail that seems to appear only in the fund analyses (albeit rarely even there) is whether (and how much) a fund hedges. Another is whether a bond fund makes significant use of interest-only derivatives. That's one of the things that originally caught my eye with FPNIX.

    To round out the list of top three useful paid features I would add the premium fund screener. Sure there are things like Schwab's screener that purport to give you access to many (but not all) of the same criteria, but they tend to limit you to predefined ranges (e.g. Sharpe ratio in fixed 0.5 ranges) that are often useless.
  • @slick, portfolio x-ray is available for free at T. Rowe Price even for those who are not customers.
  • edited December 2015
    For me, numero uno of the specific features by far is the premium portfolio info for oef's, etf's, cef's. Without that, I wouldn't pay for the rest of the features.

    Otherwise, I occasionally use fund analyst reports (more value there for etf's, for which the coverage is much wider and more detailed) and the premium fund screener (and once in a blue moon, that includes some of their pre-selected screens on the fund page and the ones they use to structure some articles). Used to use x-ray more, but it's not all that useful for a portfolio with a substantial slug of fixed income. (I did use stock intersection a lot in the past, but almost never now.)

    Bottom line, I could get everything I get from premium here & there, elsewhere, but it's a time saver, for what I want, to get it in one place. As far as value goes, I haven't paid the full asking price in years - although the last time I renewed, my request for a better rate got a chilly reception and some argument before they granted it.

    By the way, the link in the OP goes to a standard "for more info" page, no mention of the $69 rate.
  • Two things

    First, I will not even discuss anyone wanting to pay for M* research.
    Second, if not for MFO Premium, this "deal" wouldn't have happened.

  • First, no one wants to pay for anything, whether M* research or MFO premium; people would rather get everything for free. (They'd also like to get gifts from Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, but that's not going to happen either.)

    Second, I for one never said I was paying for M* research, simply that it has non-zero value, and is thus value received by paid subscribers. The object of Edmond's query, I believe, was to obtain information about the value side to be able to evaluate whether the value received was worth the cost.

    Regarding T. Rowe Price - is it the fund company or its investors that are fools? One of them must be, because TRP gives M* subscriptions to its Preferred Services customers. The implication by some is that this has zero value above what it already provides visitors for free.

    Then either TRP is the fool for giving away the farm instead of holding back some value for its preferred customers, or its customers are fools for falling for a "benefit" with zero (additional) value.
  • I have not been a premium subscriber for many years but I did find the top holding detail useful (that is the top holdings and how much was held by each fund as slick mentioned) along with duration information on fixed income. The information could have changed over time as it has been a long time since I was a premium member. I feel I get everything needed without being a permium member including duration detail.
  • Without premium membership, are you getting details about duration, or just a magic number?

    Here's a good writeup from Vanguard: Distinguishing Duration from Convexity
    "[W]e offer this brief paper as a fundamental, rather than a comprehensive, overview of the topic ... Duration ... captures only one aspect of the relationship between bond prices and interest... some bonds, such as callable bonds and mortgage-backed securities, have negative convexity at lower interest rate levels. ...

    "During the period from October31, 2007, through March 31, 2010, the duration of the GNMA portfolio— ... was significantly more volatile than that of the Treasury portfolio even though the initial durations were approximately the same. This difference in duration is due in part to the negative convexity of GNMA bonds rate changes."
    The M* analyst writeups won't give you all this detail either. But they often highlight significant factors in bond fund portfolios so that you know more of what to expect of the fund's reaction to market changes. The Vanguard piece also helps explain why I'm interested in knowing things like use of interest only bonds and why I repeatedly assert that investing in mortgage bonds in particular is not as simple as looking at duration and yield.
  • edited December 2015
    True, msf, though the fund reports aren't much to write home about, they do sometimes point out a wrinkle or two you wouldn't know from the parent co.'s material. Like just about everything, it takes a grain (or a bucket) of salt to get down to the value ...

    On the point about paying for "M* research," if it isn't clear, it should be: there's more to it than "research."
  • @sven,

    Thanks for that info, will check it out at TRP.
  • @msf I was just making general comments:D
  • Related to X-ray is portfolio tracking. See thread: "Buy and Sell transactions History".

    If all you want is a static watchlist (which is good enough for me, since I don't trade much), then perhaps the limited M* services that T. Rowe Price provides for free suffice. If you want the ability to add transactions, M* provides a porfolio manager (as contrasted with its watchlist).

    It doesn't seem to be easy to find a free service providing IRR (as opposed to time weighted returns). Perhaps Icarra? AAII (Oct 2015) wrote that M*'s portfolio tracker "is our Editor’s Choice in the portfolio tracking and optimization category."

    In 2012, AAII also lauded M*'s services, and in comparing them with two other trackers, Wikinvest (now SigFig) and SmartMoney (Wiki made the top 4 cut in 2015), noted that M* was the only one of the top 3 (for 2012) to calculate IRR. But for much of the rest, it looks like Wiki/SigFig might work.
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