CFRA vs Morningstar 2023

By: Jeremy Biberdorf  
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It’s easy for you to get overwhelmed with all the stock investment information available, and knowing where to turn for reliable guidance can take time and effort. Luckily, research tools are available to help, such as CFRA and Morningstar.

CFRA is an excellent tool for investors looking for timely, proven guidance on the financial markets and the driving forces behind them. This tool can help you stay up-to-date on the trends and developments impacting stock performance, giving insight into when to buy, hold, and sell.

Meanwhile, Morningstar is an investment firm that provides a comprehensive research tool that analyzes mutual funds, stocks, and other relevant market data. This tool offers valuable insights into mutual funds and ETFs, making it an excellent resource for investors making informed investment decisions.

In this CFRA and Morningstar review, I’ll walk you through everything about both platforms, so you can feel confident in your investment decisions and stay ahead of the curve.

CFRA is Better for:Morningstar is Better for:
Analyzing mutual funds and ETFsPremium investment services
Providing comprehensive research on stocksPortfolio tools
Offer insights for making informed investment decisionsStock recommendations

To compare CFRA and Morningstar, assessing their distinct features is essential. While both platforms aid in informed decision-making, differences in their tools and offerings can make one more suitable for your needs.

Factors like investing style, goals, and objectives can impact your platform preferences. Consider the following features of each platform to make an informed decision:

CFRA Morningstar
Service Type Investment research Investment analysis
Fees $349 yearly $34.95 (monthly) or $249 (yearly)
Best use Trading strategies Asset research
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Save $50 on an annual membership with coupon code MM50
Modest Money Overall Rating
4.3 rating based on 5 ratings
4.5 rating based on 5 ratings

Factor 1: Free features

CFRA free features last for 90 days

  • CFRA free features are in the form of Outlook
  • Morningstar gives access to editorial pieces
  • CFRA free users have access to stocks and funds data


CFRA is offering a fantastic free feature for 90 days. During this time, you’ll have access to CFRA’s weekly online investment newsletter, The Outlook, and five equity and five fund research reports monthly.

This is an excellent opportunity to use CFRA’s expertise and insights without committing to a subscription. With The Outlook, you’ll receive weekly updates on the latest trends and developments impacting the financial markets.

Meanwhile, the equity and fund research reports provide valuable insights into individual stocks and funds, helping you make informed investment decisions.


Morningstar’s free version offers users access to its wide selection of editorial pieces. This means that even if you choose not to upgrade to a paid version, you’ll still be able to stay up-to-date on the latest financial news and trends.

While some of the free version’s planning and investing tools may be limited, this doesn’t detract from the value of the editorial content available. Morningstar is known for its high-quality research and analysis; the free version is no exception. Access to this editorial content lets you stay informed and make informed investment decisions.

Click here to read our full review of Morningstar.

Factor 2: Paid Features

Morningstar includes an X-ray feature

  • Morningstar gives access to analysts’ report
  • CFRA offers global ETF data and research
  • Morningstar provides investment research


CFRA offers a range of free features that can help investors discover new investment strategies and make informed investment decisions. With CFRA’s independent equity, mutual fund, and ETF research, you can explore various investment opportunities and identify companies and industries that may have reported financial results, operational metrics, or corporate governance problems.

In addition, CFRA access to global ETF and mutual fund data and research coverage can provide clear insights into your investments. This can help you make informed decisions and ensure your portfolio is well-diversified.


Morningstar Investor offers a comprehensive suite of features to support its subscribers in their investment endeavors.

  1. Independent Analysis: More than 150 independent analysts offer unfiltered, unbiased, and candid insights, bypassing the hype of Wall Street. This actionable analysis spans various investment types and solely serves the investors’ interests.
  2. Powerful Ratings: Morningstar provides powerful and insightful ratings across all investment aspects, including securities, managers, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), and more. These ratings are derived from a transparent and meticulous methodology, simplifying decision-making for investors.
  3. Investment Tools: Subscribers have access to a wide range of performance and valuation metrics, complemented by independent analysis and ratings. Users can also use pre-filtered investment lists curated by Morningstar’s expert analysts, helping identify the best potential investments.
  4. Portfolio X-Ray: The Morningstar Portfolio X-Ray offers subscribers a comprehensive understanding of their portfolios. It assesses investments from multiple angles including asset allocation, sector weightings, fees and expenses, stock stats, and more. This tool also helps identify any overlap within your portfolio that could influence your diversification.
  5. Seamless Account Aggregation: Users can connect all their accounts for a holistic, continuous view of their assets. This feature allows users to track their entire financial portfolio from one platform, simplifying asset management.
  6. Personalized Insights: Morningstar Investor offers personalized analysis, commentary, and news tailored to the user’s holdings, watchlists, and preferences. This personalized content can provide deeper context and inform better investment decisions.
  7. Watchlists: Users can create and manage watchlists to keep track of investment ideas. These lists can be updated from almost anywhere within the Morningstar Investor platform.

Investing in Morningstar’s subscription services not only provides access to an array of useful tools but also supports your investment journey with over three decades of experience in assisting investors. Their research and resources aim to bring clarity to complex financial decisions, making it easier for you to act on your investment strategy.

You should also read our MarketWatch vs Morningstar review or even our Simply Wall Street vs Morningstar review to see how they perform against competitors.

Factor 3: Subscription Cost

Morningstar has the Lowest Subscription Option

  • CFRA offers custom pricing
  • Morningstar Investor costs $20.75 per month when paid annually
  • CFRA subscription covers individuals and firms


CFRA offers subscription plans for individual investors, financial advisors and firms, and institutional clients with varying access levels to research and analysis tools. The cost for individual investors is $349 per year, while pricing for financial advisors and institutional clients is available upon request.


Morningstar Investor offers two subscription plans. The yearly subscription costs $249, which breaks down to $20.75 per month, offering a savings of 41% over the monthly plan. The monthly subscription is priced at $34.95 per month. Both plans offer a free trial for users to get a feel for the platform and its offerings.

Factor 4: Coverage

Morningstar offers a wider range of global coverage

  • Morningstar provides analysis of stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds globally
  • CFRA offers broad coverage of U.S. and some international markets


CFRA also provides broad coverage of investment options, but with a more concentrated focus on U.S. markets. They cover a large number of U.S. stocks and funds, providing deep analysis and ratings for these investments. While CFRA does cover some international markets, their strength lies in their domestic coverage.

Like Morningstar, CFRA offers detailed analysis of individual stocks and funds. Their methodology emphasizes forward-looking factors, and they provide both quantitative data and qualitative assessments of the underlying business and its prospects. However, their international coverage is not as extensive as Morningstar, which could be a limitation for those looking for in-depth analysis of non-U.S. investments.


Morningstar is renowned for its comprehensive coverage of investment products. It offers analysis for a wide range of securities including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. The coverage is not just limited to the U.S. markets, but extends globally. This international scope allows investors to explore and analyze investments from around the world, making it particularly useful for those interested in global diversification.

Morningstar also provides extensive coverage of funds, with data and ratings on thousands of mutual funds and ETFs. This includes both qualitative and quantitative assessments, looking at factors like fund management, fees, and historical performance.

Factor 5: Investment Rating System

CFRA and Morningstar offer distinct rating methodologies

  • Morningstar uses a star rating system based on predicted future returns
  • CFRA uses STARS (Stock Appreciation Ranking System) to predict future performance


CFRA uses a system known as STARS, or Stock Appreciation Ranking System, for their investment ratings. The STARS methodology involves comprehensive fundamental analysis and an assessment of the stock’s potential for future performance, rather than relying solely on past data.

CFRA analysts scrutinize the company’s financial health, industry position, and market conditions to predict how the stock will perform over the next 6 to 12 months. They then assign a rating from 5-STARS (Strong Buy) to 1-STAR (Strong Sell).

CFRA’s rating system is also forward-looking, placing significant emphasis on predicting the future performance of an investment. While it offers a thorough analysis, like all forecasts, it carries the inherent uncertainties of future predictions.


Morningstar employs a unique star rating system for its investment ratings. The methodology involves predicting future returns of funds and stocks. For funds, the star rating system is based on risk- and cost-adjusted past performance.

For stocks, Morningstar uses a proprietary methodology involving the concept of “economic moat,” or a company’s sustainable competitive advantage. The analyst team assigns star ratings to funds and stocks, and these ratings serve as a quick reference for investors.

One key characteristic of Morningstar’s rating system is that it is inherently predictive, meaning it is based on the analysts’ expectations of future performance, not past performance. This provides investors with a forward-looking assessment, though, like any predictions, it is not guaranteed.

CFRA vs Morningstar: Our Summary

After a comprehensive analysis of both CFRA and Morningstar based on the factors of free features, paid features, subscription cost, coverage, and investment rating system, we conclude that Morningstar stands out as the superior choice.

Although both platforms offer excellent resources, Morningstar has a slight edge over CFRA due to its expansive global coverage, the inclusivity of its paid features, and the robustness of its star rating system. Morningstar’s coverage of stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds across the globe is exceptionally comprehensive, allowing investors to perform thorough analyses regardless of geographical focus.

When considering paid features, Morningstar impresses with an array of options. Subscribers have access to over 150 independent analysts’ insights, portfolio x-ray tools, personalized insights, watchlists, and much more. These features extend beyond basic data and research, providing users with a suite of tools to facilitate informed investment decisions.

Morningstar’s subscription cost is also favorable compared to CFRA. With the lowest subscription option of $20.75 per month (paid annually), Morningstar offers significant value for its cost.

The unique star rating system utilized by Morningstar further distinguishes it. This system, built on predictive analyses of future returns, offers a forward-looking assessment that investors may find more helpful than simple analyses of past performance.

While CFRA is an impressive platform with its robust STARS rating system and specific U.S. market strength, it doesn’t quite match the comprehensive coverage and feature-rich offerings provided by Morningstar. Therefore, Morningstar edges out CFRA in this comparison, offering investors a superior platform for financial analysis and investment guidance.

Click here to sign up and take advantage of Morningstar.

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Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. After working many years in the website marketing industry, he decided to take on blogging full time and also get his finances headed in the right direction. Also check out his contributions to and Benzinga.