Morningstar offers analysis of a range of investments, including stocks and bonds, mutual funds and ETFs, and more. Morningstar is perhaps best known for its mutual fund star rating system, which allows readers to quickly see how Morningstar judges a particular fund. You’ll also get information on past performance, the risk profile of a fund, the strategy of a fund (for example, seeking share price growth vs. seeking dividend income), and more.
The Morningstar Web site offers plenty of information free on its site, but ultimately the company would like you to pay for a subscription or at least register with the site so they can try to sell you a subscription later. In fact, if you search for information at the Morningstar site, many links will lead you to a form attempting to get you to subscribe or register. If you are searching a particular fund or stock, you can get around this by searching the stock symbol on a search engine along with “Morningstar” in the search box — this will usually take you to the publicly-accessible page for a particular symbol. However, this will not get you access to their rankings of the best mutual funds or other securities. For that, you’ll need to consider paying.
Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto began the company in 1984, tracking the performance of 400 mutual funds in a quarterly publication called The Mutual Fund Sourcebook. This publication was targeted directly at individual investors who wanted to make their own investment decisions instead of going through a financial adviser or broker. Morningstar has expanded greatly in the 30+ years since, becoming one of the best-known names in investment research. It is now a public company, trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker MORN.
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