By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe

In the latest frontier for on-line investing,
do-it-yourselfers with as little as $20 to $50 to
regularly put into the market can buy shares in
companies such as Kmart and Microsoft on the Internet,
for as little as $2 per transaction. A growing number
of corporations, including Allstate, Campbell Soup,
Caterpillar, Merck, Nokia, and Tandy, allow direct
stock purchases on line, through either their own Web
sites or other sites, such as

These on-line programs are typically extensions of a
company's existing dividend reinvestment program
(DRIP) or direct stock purchase program (DSP) - ways
of investing that predate the Internet and usually
require ownership of at least one share of the stock
already, or a minimum of a few hundred dollars to open
an account. Additional purchases at as low as $25 to
$50 can be made, with low or no fees.

But two of the newest investing sites for small
do-it-yourselfers - and - open up thousands of other
companies to individual investors, whether or not they
have a DRIP or a DSP. That means folks can get into
companies such as Microsoft, Dell Computer, and
America Online with a low or no- minimum investment,
and with fees ranging from $2 to $2.99 per purchase.

"The advent of the Internet is facilitating the
creation of more and more do-it-yourselfers," said
Charles B. Carlson, editor of the DRIP Investor
newsletter and author of such popular books as "Buying
Stocks Without a Broker."

Both and came on line
within the last three months and are privately owned., based in New York, has Carlson on its
board of directors, while, based in
Washington state, is part of the company that owns the Web site, which Carlson used to be
involved with.

Unlike traditional brokerages, neither site offers
stock recommendations, on-line research, or financial
planning advice, but they do offer education about the
wealth-building capacity of regularly investing a
little bit at a time, the power of reinvesting
dividends, and the advantage of holding for the long

"We're completely revolutionizing how people are going
to interact with the market," said Peter E. Breen,
chief executive of and formerly a
partner with Shareholder Communications Corp. in New

The site currently sells 1,300 stocks and has about
35,000 subscribers, according to Breen, who said that
in's first month and a half, a little
over $7 million in assets was invested.

Among's features: Open an account on
line and make purchases of as little as $20; a $2.99
transaction fee for purchase or sale of stock, which
is executed twice a day, morning and afternoon;
dividends reinvested at no charge; electronic
transfers from your bank account to fund purchases;
and on-line account statements. operates under the same basic concept
of empowering the little guy and also offers on-line
account statements and electronic transfer of funds,
but it differs in some of the details: no minimum to
open an account on line or make a purchase; a $2 fee
to buy shares ($1 for custodial accounts for minors)
on a once- a-week basis, and a $19.95 fee to sell or
buy shares on a real-time basis at current market
prices; free account for the first 12 months and then
$11.95 per year. currently offers more than 2,000
stocks but is not disclosing how many accounts have
been opened or how much in assets it currently has.

With, "you have a very easy to use,
very cheap way to accumulate stocks in over 2,000
companies," said Jeff Seely, president and chief
executive of Netstock Direct Corp., and a former
investment banker.

"It's a great vehicle for parents or grandparents
wanting to save money for their kids."