Using Google Drive’s Spreadsheets for Finance

The vast majority of quantitative analysis I do these days is either in Matlab or via the spreadsheets of Google Drive. Less commonly I’ll use Python if I need to distribute heavy web scraping among web servers or C++ if I want to use OpenCL for something very specific.

Recently I’ve been experiment with the spreadsheets on Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) and finding a lot of success. The Google Doc’s spreadhseet is a cloud based Excel analogue. There are several major advantages

  1. It is far easier for a non-programmer to use than scripting languages like Matlab or Python.
  2. A simple google finance protocol is integrated.
  3. Other web resources can be loaded and parsed through google’s servers, which mitigates connection flooding complaints and presumably creates caching opportunities which reduces overhead on the resource.
  4. It has all of the advantages of being cloud based: auto-saving, backup, easy collaboration, and remote access.

The major downsides are

  1. The number of calls to google finance or remote resources are limited.
  2. As spreadsheets go, it is moderately watered down compared to Excel.

“Well that sounds nice, but what can I actually do with it?”  - possibilities include, but are not limited to :

  • Automatically track the price of stocks and highlight those which reach a “buy” value you set.
  • Load any value from recent financial statements, allowing you to create customized valuation metrics.
  • Access historical price information about stock price.
  • Create charts tracking the performance of a portfolio of stocks over time.
  • Automatically load and update stock ratings from third parties (morningstar, motley fools’ CAPS)for a set of tickers.

During a series of forthcoming articles, I will explain how to achieve these effects in your own spreadsheets.

Formats under consideration

I’m weighing the advantages of several possible formats for stock ratings on this site.  Options include

  1. Tracking my personal portfolio.
  2. A 5 star rating system.
  3. A Buy/Hold/Sell system.
  4. Price targets.
  5. A user-interactive rating system.
  6. No rating system.

My inclination is to mix the first two; I’ll track my portfolio and post star ratings for other stocks that I follow.  The goal of this site is to share information and to demonstrate and refine my skill set.  It’s not to give investment advice (which #3 and #4 arguably lend themselves to), or to aggregate data from users (#5).

First post

Welcome to

This is my first blog, which I plan to use as an avenue for my ideas on value investing.  I expect my posts to highlight potential investments, discuss analysis techniques, and evaluate the macroeconomic environment.  My intention is to share ideas that have been percolating in my head in hopes of refining my methods, associating with like minded individuals, and finding new opportunities.