Introducing PlanetAUX

I wrote a post a couple of years ago surveying the 20 biggest Australian listed companies in terms of how they syndicate the ASX announcements they make when they have news for the market.

All of the companies made their announcements available on their (or an associated) website, but that obviously requires that an interested investor or follower of the company regularly check the announcements page of each company they're interested in - not ideal, timely, or scalable.

"Push" or broadcast approaches are much more useful for this sort of thing, and back then 14 or the 20 did make their announcements available via email - which is useful enough - and 7 of the 20 also published RSS or Atom feeds, which are better still, because they're more lightweight, centralised, and standardised/re-mixable.

On the other hand, 7/20 is a pretty ordinary score, especially considering these are the biggest Australian listed companies. Smaller companies with fewer resources are presumably going to fare even worse.

Two years on the number of ASX20 companies with announcements feeds has now leapt to ... 9. :-/

And so towards the end of last year I decided to scratch this particular itch, and built an announcement aggregator site called PlanetAUX. It aggregates the announcements feeds of the ASX20 companies with them, and generates announcements feeds for those that don't have them.

Of the companies in the ASX20, there was only one whose HTML was so terrible that I couldn't manage to parse it. I figured 19/20 isn't bad for starters.

Plans are to add more companies as time and interest demands, presumably the remainder of the ASX50 initially, and then we'll see how things go.

Happy feeding.

ASX20 Announcements Review

Question: you're a small investor with a handful of small share
investments in Australian companies listed on the ASX. How do you
keep track of the announcements those companies make to the ASX?

There are a couple of manual methods you can use. You can bookmark the announcements page on the various company websites you're interested in and go and check them periodically, but that's obviously pretty slow and labour intensive.

Or you can go to a centralised point, the ASX Announcements Page, and search for all announcements from there. Unfortunately, the ASX only lets you search for one company at a time, so that's also pretty slow, and still requires you do all the checking manually - there's no automation available without subscribing to the ASX's expensive data feed services.

There are also other third-party subscription services you can pay for that will do this for you, but it's annoying to have to pay for what is rightly public information.

The better answer is for the company themselves to provide their announcements through some sort of push mechanism. The traditional method is via email, where you subscribe to company announcements, and they show up in your inbox shortly after they're released.

But the best and most modern solution is for companies to provide a syndication feed on their website in a format like RSS or Atom, which can be monitored and read using feed readers like Google Reader, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Omea Reader. Feeds are superior to email announcments in that they're centralised and lightweight (big companies don't have to send out thousands of emails, for instance), and they're a standardised format, and so can be remixed and repurposed in lots of interesting ways.

So out of interest I did a quick survey of the current ASX20 (the top 20 list of companies on the ASX according to Standards and Poors) to see how many of them support syndicating their announcements either by email or by RSS/Atom. Here are the results:

Table: Company Announcement Availability, ASX20
Company via web via email via RSS/Atom
AMP tick tick RSS Feed
ANZ tick
BHP tick tick
Brambles (BXB) tick tick
Commonwealth Bank (CBA) tick tick
CSL tick tick
Fosters (FGL) tick
Macquarie Group (MQG) tick tick
NAB tick
Newcrest Mining (NCM) tick
Origin Energy (ORG) tick tick RSS Feed
QBE Insurance (QBE) tick
Rio Tinto (RIO) tick tick RSS Feed
Suncorp Metway (SUN) tick tick RSS Feed
Telstra (TLS) tick tick RSS Feed
Wesfarmers (WES) tick tick RSS Feed
Westfield (WDC) tick tick
Westpac (WBC) tick
Woodside Petroleum (WPL) tick tick
Woolworths (WOW) tick tick RSS Feed

Some summary ratings:

  • Grade: A - announcements available via web, email, and RSS: AMP, ORG, RIO, SUN, TLS, WES, WOW (7)
  • Grade: B - announcements available via web and email: BHP, BXB, CBA, CSL, MQG, WDC, WPL (7)
  • Grade: C - announcements available via web: ANZ, FGL, NAB, NCM, QBE, WBC (6)

Overall, I'm relatively impressed that 7 of the ASX20 do support RSS. On the down side, the fact that another 6 don't even provide an email announcements service is pretty ordinary, especially considering the number of retail shareholders who hold some of these stocks (e.g. three of the big four banks, bonus points to CBA, the standout).

Special bonus points go to:

  • Suncorp Metway and Wesfarmers, who also offer RSS feeds for upcoming calendar events;

  • Rio Tinto, who have their own announcements twitter account.

Corrections and updates are welcome in the comments.

Transient RSS Feeds

As the use of RSS and Atom becomes increasingly widespread (we have people talking about Syndication-Oriented Architecture now), it seems to me that one of the use cases that isn't particularly well covered off is transient or short-term feeds.

In this category are things like short-term blogs (e.g. the feeds on the advent blogs I was reading this year: Catalyst 2007 and 24 Ways 2007), or comment feeds, for tracking the comments on a particular post.

Transient feeds require at least the ability to auto-expire a feed after some period of time (e.g. 30 days after the last entry) or after a certain date, and secondarily, the ability to add feeds almost trivially to your newsreader (I'm currently just using the thunderbird news reader, which is reasonable, but requires about 5 clicks to add a feed).

Anyone know of newsreaders that offer this functionality?