Stox is an investment
tool designed to help you manage and evaluate your stock portfolio. According to
Joesoft (a Prosoft company), the software is designed to meet the needs of students,
business people, retirees or wall-street moguls. Stox works with hundreds of online
resources and compiles color-coded charts, market specific news items, detailed trade
parameters, analyst opinions and performance reports. You can create virtual portfolios,
define watch lists and import existing portfolios.
- Mac OS X: 10.4 or
- Internet Connection
- 256MB RAM
I ran this test on an Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. When I first loaded Stox, I was
running OS 10.4. I have since upgraded to OS 10.5 and it has shown no change in compatibility.
Pop the program DVD of JoeSoft's Stox into your Mac and you get the following window:
Drag the Stox icon
to your Applications folder and you are ready to start using the program. As you
can see in the image above, the Stox manual is accessible online via your Internet
I tested version 1.0. As of late March 2008, there have not been any program updates,
but I have been assured that there are updates in the pipeline. I noticed a full
page ad in this month's MacWorld.
Before diving into the main features of the program, Stox leads you through a couple
of steps to get your initial portfolio set up. First you select your currency type,
which I selected U.S. dollars. Next, you use the portfolio wizard to enter investments.
The Portfolio Setup Wizard has two fields for adding stocks to your portfolio. The
first field is for the ticker symbol for the stock, and includes a lookup tool. The
second field is an optional scroll-down menu of Exchanges (American Stock Exchange,
Barcelona Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, Jakarta Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange,
etc.). For common US exchanges such as American Stock or NASDAQ, you will see the
simple symbol added to your portfolio. If you select one of the uncommon exchanges,
such as Chicago Board of Trust, a suffix is added to your symbol (e.g., FJIJ.CBT).
Once you click on
done, it asks you to name your portfolio and then takes you to the portfolio's main
At this point you are all set to start using the main features of the program. The
portfolio display is the meat of the program, providing you instant access to stock
quotes, charts, and news for each stock listed in your portfolio. Click on the stock
symbol to generate the details in the bottom pane of the window. Double clicking
a symbol opens a browser window of Yahoo Finance for that particular stock or fund.
Stox does not offer trading. It is intended to be a portfolio tool for tracking information
on stocks you either own or are interested in. When a portfolio represents a brokerage
account where you have active dollars invested (whether it is managed by a stock
broker or yourself, online or through an in-person brokerage account), you will enter
each of the symbols into that portfolio, and then you will add transaction amounts
(shares and price) that represent activity in your account (this includes your initial
cash deposit, which would likely be your first transaction).
Stox does not replace your online brokerage account (if you have one), not does it
access your online account. The advantage of accessing the account would be to obtain
all of your transaction data automatically. The disadvantage would be that you may
not wish to share your login information with a standalone application. Clicking
on the trades tab will show all the trades you historically made for the selected
stock, including details such as cost per share and effective gain. Of course, you
manually entered these transactions, so the data is only as accurate as what you
entered. Note, also, that funds such as mutual funds that pay off periodically and
reinvest will require manual entry of each transaction.
Once you have started Stox, you will have the option of having a little stock ticker
on your desktop.
Stox Desktop Ticker
Alternately, you can
choose to use a wider stock ticker to see more.
Stox Desktop Ticker (wide version)
You have a number
of options for customizing the Stox ticker using the Ticker Preferences.
You can choose to have stocks show up that are in your portfolios, in certain indices
(including news), or a combination of both. Each portfolio or index chosen is displayed
on its own row, and you can specify the background and text color as well as the
scrolling speed. You can have the ticker display titles, names, and closed positions,
as well as whether you want the ticker to be always visible or not. The ticker can
be changed to include only the items in the selected portfolio. To do so, you have
to go into the Preferences, find the Ticker Preferences panel, add an index, and
find your portfolio.
Stox Portfolio Overview
When you select the
Overview Tab, the window displays the general performance of the selected portfolio.
At the top it shows the long and short-term performance of the overall portfolio.
Below the performance are links to news about specific portfolio items, and below
that are the market indices and market news links. You can change the source for
market news using the scroll down menu where it shows "CNN Money" in the
image. Other sources include Google Finance, MSM Money, Reuters and Yahoo Finance.
Clicking on the Portfolio Tab gives you current data on the individual items in your
portfolio based on the data you have manually entered. Selecting one of the items
listed (e.g., Apple, Inc.) provides you with access to charts and news specifically
about that financial item.
Charting the stock "AAPL" (Apple, Inc)
As shown above, the charts can be changed using the parameters on the left for Type,
Range, Start Date and End date. Additionally, you can choose to view more data related
to the stock, such as Bid information, volume, EPS, etc. (see below).
Details for the stock "AAPL"
For one of the stocks
I put in my portfolio, MERKX (Merk Hard Currency), the program would track the day
to day changes, but it never was able to produce a chart (see below).
Would not product chart for "MERKX"
The Transactions Tab
shows an historical record of all transactions entered into the portfolio. You have
to manually enter every purchase with cash deposits. I found the transactions section
to be the source of some confusion and not very intuitive. Because I track my accounts
online, I didn't feel the need to also track my account balances with Stox.
One of the issues I had using Stox is upon opening the software in subsequent sessions,
I would encounter an error dialog. This dialog would report errors that occurred
while fetching news or other information related to certain portfolio items.
Errors when opening Stox portfolio
This would prohibit me from viewing the data or news about a certain stock for that
day. If I restart the program, the missing stock would often come back. After contacting
tech support, they asked me to download updated software from the web, and that resolved
During the initial
entry of my portfolio, I also encountered an error when attempting to save. I had
to recreate the portfolio in a subsequent session, and the next time there was no
error, and the portfolio was successfully saved.
I found the news links to be interesting. I especially enjoyed one called "The
Laptop and the Notebook, a Fable," from an Apple Corporation Stock link. There is also a profit/loss
report function that will summarize all the profits and losses from a portfolio.
This could be useful, but again it requires manual effort to make the calculations
correct. For example, if I am tracking a fund on my investment web site, my cost
basis is always automatically updated. In other words, the $2000 that I invested
in 2003 is not my cost any more - I'll spare the reader the economics lesson. Stox,
on the other hand, does not do this - or if it does, I couldn't find it in the user
Starting off the review, I hit a few stumbling blocks. In the beginning, after I
would return to the software the following day, the program would not start up. This
led me to re-installing the software, which also led to having to re-enter the serial
number. This particular problem was cleared up when I first spoke to tech support
and they provided an updated serial number. Another problem is that, after initially
creating a portfolio, I received an error during save, and the portfolio would be
gone when I started up Stox again.
Due to the problems
I experienced, I contacted JoeSoft tech support to try and resolve them. The support
line, open during Pacific Coast business hours, was always very patient and helpful.
JoeSoft Stox offers
some useful comparison tools and easy access to some useful news links. Stox does
a nice job of assembling tracking and graphing applets with links to some open source
trading advice. It does a good job of integrating financial information from a variety
of sources. There's a desktop ticker that looks cute and will make your less savvy
neighbor think you're a junior Wall Street broker. The news comes from sources like
Yahoo and Fortune/CNN. The graphics and overall interface looks very nice. However,
you must manually enter your transactions to keep your portfolios updated and current.
If you already use an online brokerage website, a lot of this input may feel redundant.
I also experienced a number of problems with the software, many resolved with an
updated serial number, and other issues are reported to have been resolved with the
Stox 1.1 update (which I have not had the chance to try yet). Stox, when working
properly, does integrate some useful stock reporting features in one place, and is
a nice tool to have for those that regularly watch stocks.
- Integrates financial
information from different sources
- Nicely organized
stock reports and graphics
- Helpful tech support
- Some intermittent
software bugs (such as losing portfolios)
- Must balance cash
flow manually (no integration to online accounts)
- Initial startup problems
(resolved with an updated serial number)
3 1/2 out of 5 Mice