Stock Monitoring Services Grow

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Services that monitor trading and settlement activity in a company's stock are growing as investors become more vocal about corporate management.

Firms like Thomson Financial provide such "stock watch" services to provide firms with early warnings on trading patterns and investors accumulating stakes. John O'Brien, who heads Thomson's advisory services, told The Wall Street Journalthe business of such services is growing.

By scrutinizing data on where trades are being settled, the services can find hints about purchases by money managers and hedge funds, who don't have to disclose holdings of less than five percent until 45 days after the quarter's end. This helps executives avoid surprises about funds or other activists who may collectively own large blocks of shares, said Jim Montano of the Altman Group, which launched a hedge-fund tracking service in June.

Companies who've made use of these services include McDonald's, Wendy's International, Procter & Gamble, Rowan Cos., and Altria Group, the Journal said.

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