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Review of:
Pointcast Financial Capabilities
 
by John Woody

PointCast is a push program which provides users with the ability to develop a personal newspaper including financial information from several sources. Push programs are Internet programs which have data that is fed to users when asked for by the user. This data may or may not be free access. PointCast is set up to provide up-to-the-date information in a newspaper format. It is a complete program built around browser technology. It has its own dialer or can be used with Windows Dial-Up Networking (DUN). This is established in the setup process. The entire program can be downloaded from the PointCast Web site or can be purchased at computer stores. The purchased program contains a manual. The basic program is free. 

 Nine categories are available, each with several individual choices. The overall categories are News, Companies, Industries, Weather, Sports, Newspaper, Connections, CNNfn, Newspaper. PointCast is a free program for the download. It receives all of it's revenue from advertising. The program can be set up to run in the background all the time with constant updates or it can be updated when you want to do the update. Get the program at (www.pointcast.com). 
 
 

General Concept

I am running PointCast Business Network beta version 2.1. I have received an e-mail notice that version 2.5 is available for the download. PointCast needs large hard drive space. It will work on a 486-33 with at least 8 MB RAM. An analog modem is required with at least V.34 (28.8 Kbps) capability. It runs under the Windows 3.11 or 95 OS environment. It installed easily and I have been able to update it with no problems. It is a point-and-click program with minimum static data input from you. Type-in window boxes are usually provided for your input. 

 Setup is accomplished by opening the (Personalize) pull down menu and selecting one of three choices, (Add/Remove Channels), (Personalize Channels), or (Applications Settings). Each choice leads to further choices. The main screen contains three frames plus button and menu choices on the left side. The advertising is in the upper right corner of the screen. The left upper screen contains categories plus headings in each category. The main frame contains the headline and story. The main frame can be expanded in each category for easier reading. 

 First, news is available from Reuters and CNN as well as on-line newspapers sources. I have selected four news categories and two major newspapers in my setup as well as CNNfn. Each of the on-line newspapers and CNNfn have several categories of information. Next, you may personalize your financial portfolio by entering the financial symbols for each company or stock you want to track. I will cover this in detail later in the review. The third category is (Industries) which contains 44 separate categories for continual review. News from these categories is specific to the industry such as Aerospace/Defense. The (Weather) and (Sports) channels are self explained. There is a channel which covers the PointCast specific items. I have selected categories from each of two newspapers, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Both are newspapers of record and provide points of view from both East and West coasts. Finally, CNNfn gives eight categories which spell the current financial news in detail. 
 
 

Financial Capabilities

The (Industries) button brings up the financial status of the markets and individual company stocks. It is loaded by typing in each stock symbol from the (Add/Rem.) button at the top of the main screen. An individual (tab) is created for each stock listed. The main (Industries) left upper frame contains category tabs for a Summary and each individual stock. The main frame contains a spread sheet with each stock listed plus much of the stock market data included. There are four more buttons in addition to the (Add/Rem.) button which are (Summary), (Stock Statics), (Fund Statics), and (Holdings). Actual trades may be made from this Toolbar as well. Eight on-line trading entities are available through this service. The (Update Now) menu tab can be run any time a current stock quote status is needed. 

 The individual company (stock) pages have three frames as all of them do. Each page is a (tab). The upper left frame contains article heading of recently released stories about the company. The lower frame has four (button) choices, (Chart), (Overview), (Trade), and (Resources). Each takes you to another page with additional data. The (Chart) page has a Share Price chart with daily quote information for the past eleven weeks. There is a corresponding Volume chart to complete the chart data. The latest market data with price open, high, low, current, volume, and years volume is also listed. The (Overview) tab brings up the latest company data including Business Summary, Key People, Consolidated Financial Statements, and latest sales figures for past twelve months. The (Trade) tab brings up seven on-line traders, Ameritrade, CharlesSchwab, Datek On-Line, DLJ Direct, E-Trade, Fidelity Investment, and SurTrade. The (Resources) tab opens further on-line resources outside PointCast. 
 
 

  • The (Industries) button, (portfolio) button, (Summary) tab, (Summary) button spreadsheet of your holdings has columns for Symbol, Name, Last (price), Change, %Change, Daily High, Daily Low, and volume. This spreadsheet can be printed out. I use this data to talk to my broker with.

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  • The (Stock Statics) button changes to another spreadsheet which contains columns for stock data such as Symbol, Last (price), EPS (earning per share), P/E (price / earnings ratio), # of Shares (traded), Market Cap, 52 high, and 52 Low on each stock.

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  • The (Fund Statics) button changes to still another spreadsheet which provides for mutual fund data such as Symbol, NAV (price), YTD (yield to date), 1 year (percent earnings), 3 Year (percent earnings), 5 Year (percent earnings), Rating, and Category.

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  • The (Holdings) button changes to another spreadsheet which provides data on your portfolio in near real time. This spreadsheet contains the stock Symbol, Quality (shares owned), Avg. Cost, Par Value, Last (price), Cur. Value, Gain, and % Gain. Losses are shown in red as negative amounts. This is a summary of your stock holdings. 
  • You can sell or buy from the Portfolio frames.

Additional Financial Information

The CNNfn category opens up an additional source of financial information through the buttons and tabs within its set. The first button, (Hot Stories) has up to seven tabs with additional information. Each tab has an listing with the latest CNNfn article available for reading. The (Market News) button provides Wall street articles. The (Market Data) button provides chart data for Dow Jones, and the major market composite indexes. The (Interest Rate) tab gives U. S. Treasury interest rates for Notes, bonds, and Bills. The (Your Money) button has tabs for (News) and (Mutual Funds). The (Digital Jam) button, which I have not used, has a tab for (News). 

 I use the financial data from each of the two newspapers as part of my decision process. 
 
 

Conclusion

I use PointCast as a financial source. It is easy to set up and use. It is free to the user. I use my DUN connection through my ISP to make the connection. The data in the financial sections is easy to read and understand and I can update my portfolio as many times as I feel necessary to follow my stock investments. Download the program from (www.pointcast.com). JOHN WOODY IS A TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT SPECIALING IN SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS, NETWORKS, AND INTERNET BUSINESS TRAINING. JWOODY@TEXAS.NET