The Seeking Alpha Interest Index: What's Hot, What's Not?

by: Tim Plaehn

Seeking Alpha provides some great information on individual stocks. This discussion is about how many readers are interested in that information. Seeking Alpha has about 500,000 visitors each day, with over 3 million page views.

As you probably know, when you set up a portfolio here on the Seeking Alpha website, you can elect to get an email update every time a new article is posted about one of the stocks in your portfolio. You may have noticed pages about individual stocks list the number of email subscribers. A look at the universe of stocks based on the number of Seeking Alpha subscribers paints an interesting picture of what interests investors on this site and, to me of more interest, the stocks which draw very little interest.

I directed an assistant to go through a listing of stocks and note how many email subscriber there were for each individual stock. The list ended up covering basically the Russell 1000 list of largest companies trading on the exchanges plus the major L.P. and REIT stocks not included in the major indexes. I think the results are interesting and a reflection on the interests of the mass investing public.

Of the roughly 1,000 stocks, the number of email alerts range from well over 30,000 readers for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the top of the list to American National Insurance Company (NASDAQ:ANAT) with 9 investors interested enough to receive email notices. Mega-stock Apple adds 300 to 500 email subscribers per day.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • Five stocks: AAPL, Citigroup (NYSE:C), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) have more than 10,000 subscribers. Citigroup is at about half of Apple's level and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is very close to the 10k number and will be there soon.
  • 26 stocks have more than 5,000 email subscribers and about 150 companies have news distributed by email to more than 1,000 subscribers.
  • At the other end of the list, 350 out of 1,000 stocks have less than 100 email subscribers. The median number of SA email subscribers is 188.

These numbers show the majority of investors follow a handful of stocks, leaving hundreds of possible investments off their list of potential investments.

Taking a look at the sectors populated by popular stocks, investors are interested in tech stocks, telecom stocks, more tech stocks, durable goods manufacturers, pharma stocks and energy companies. Outside of the two large-cap banking companies, the only other financial with high interest is mortgage REIT Annaly Capital (NYSE:NLY). Consumer goods are a reasonably popular sector with investors more interested in cigarettes -- Altria (NYSE:MO) -- than books -- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Yes, I put Amazon in the consumer goods sector.

Surprising stocks -- for me -- near the top of the list are Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) at number 10 and near to smallcap pharma company Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ:DNDN) at number 68 with over 2,000 subscribers.

Seeking Alpha reading investors are not at all interested in insurance companies. Dow 30 component Travellers (NYSE:TRV) is 320 rungs down the ladder with less than 400 email subscribers. The next least favored Dow 30 stock is United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) at position 122 with 1,200 subscribers.

Down at the bottom of the rankings live a host of small and mid-cap companies few investors have ever heard of but some names stick out. Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN) is well know to investor, but not as an investment with less than 50 subscribers. Energizer Holdings (NYSE:ENR) sells well-know battery and razor brands and has 65 subscribers. Cooper Industries (CBE) has a $10 billion market cap and 99 Seeking Alpha email subscribers.

Besides some interesting data to discuss, the point I would like to make is that the majority of investors -- using the Seeking Alpha interest numbers -- follow just a handful of stocks in a few market sectors. There is a whole lot of untapped potential out there for stock investors looking for hidden gems. I plan to dig out a few of those gems in future articles. If you like, list one or two of your favorite stocks in the comments and the number of SA email subscribers. Here's a chance get some more investors interested in your stocks.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.