Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stock Screeners

You've decided to do it.  You are going to invest in stock--you are going to buy shares in some company, rather than a mutual fund of ETF.  Now, how do you pick which one.  One way that has been successful for many people is buying what you know--if there is a business you patronize and love, buy a part of it, or at least use a list of such companies to begin your research.

Another way is to set some basic criteria, run some computerized screens on those criteria and then further research the results of those screens.  The advantage of this method is that it can call to mind companies you had no idea existed.  While a computerized screen should not be your only criteria for investing a substantial (definition of "substantial" varies by person) amount of money in a company, computerized screens are good for eliminating companies from consideration.  Let's take a look at some available on-line stock screeners.


Finviz  is the screener that seemed the most intuitive to me.  Above is a screenshot of their screener.  offers both paid and free accounts.  The paid account costs $24.96, and this chart compares the free and paid versions:

To use Finviz, you simply go to their homepage, click on screener and, for the most complete screen, click on "All".  (The other choices are "Descriptive" "Fundamental" and "Technical").  Click the boxes on which you want to screen, enter the criteria that interest you, and then look at the results list.

As an example, I want to invest in a small cap company that is profitable, has increasing earnings per share and has a dividend above 3%.  I'm not saying this screen will result in outsized earnings, I just needed something to start with and that's what I picked. 

Finviz' screener covers 7319 companies.  Screening for small cap reduced the number to 1564.  Asking for dividend yield over 3% cut that to 372.  When I added in positive earnings per share growth this year, the number went down to 148.  Setting "net profit margin" to positive, further reduced the list to 107.

Once I've gotten a number of stocks with which I can work.  I can design my own report using the screening criteria I used, or another criteria.  For example before I buy this stock, I want to know if their sales are increasing, and what the price/earning ratio is.  I go to the report tab, click those buttons, along with dividend yield and then I take a look at my report, which I can then sort on any criteria I've included in the report.  In this case, I decided to sort on Sales Growth in the last five years and Jupai Holdings, a financial management company from China comes to the top. 

Interesting; this would NEVER have come on my radar in much of any other way.  So, should I buy it?  Well, when I click on that stock, I get a page filled with data about it,and a quick eyeball shows that it is a growing and profitable company but that the stock price is volatile and down for the last three months, but that it doubled in the last year. If I continue down the page I see a slew of articles about the company, including one published this week on Simply Wall Street titled Top 3 Cheap Stocks This Month.  There is also a link to their annual report. 

The main downside to Finviz is I think the page is unattractive and hard to read.  Also, unless you buy the premium version there are ads, including videos and I hate video ads. 


Yahoo offers a stock screener as well.  While it does not say how many companies it starts with, when I clicked "Small Cap" I got 5245 results.  When I went to look for dividend yield, I couldn't find it, so I hit control-f and let the computer do it for me.  I found one that was dividend/stock price, so I clicked it.  For earnings per share I clicked net EPS--basic.  The trouble was that once I clicked those, instead of being able to set them where I was, I had to go to another screen, and though I set the dividend screen to what I thought was the equivalent of dividend yield, I ended up with stocks with dividend yields that were less than 3% (and some more) so obviously I did it wrong. In general I had a harder time navigating Yahoo's screener and I wasn't able to select criteria that I knew were equivalent to those I picked for Finviz (and vice versa).  I guess knowing something about finance would be useful. 

For whatever reason, CVA Covanta Holding Corporation was at the top of the list Yahoo gave me.  I clicked on it and was taken to Yahoo's page on Covanta where you can see there is a lot of information, including the fact that it is considered a strong "buy" right now.  This page is easier to read than the individual stock pages on Finviz, and seems to have much of the same information.  In short, I prefer screening the stocks on Finviz, and then reviewing the "winners" on Yahoo finance.  


Zacks is helpful because it defines the various screening criteria and tells you what it thinks are reasonable values.  I screened for market cap under 1000 per their criteria for small cap.  I picked a dividend yield of greater than or equal to 3%.  My screen selected 98 stocks.  Interestingly, neither of the stocks discussed above were on that list.  

Zacks listed the stocks in alphabetical order but allowed me to sort by any of my criteria.  I sorted by dividend yield and the top one was Independence Realty Trust, and clicking on the name took me to Zack's page  on it.  I found the page easy to read and liked the fact that one of the top things you see on the page is Zack's recommendation about the stock--in this case "sell".  The other thing I like is the little  buttons next to some terms.   

While Zack's is selling a premium service and therefore paywalls a lot of their information, there is still plenty available to those who do not subscribed. 

Are there any stock screeners you like to use?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


  1. I've never even heard of screeners! I feel like I'm always learning something new over here!

  2. Never seen this before. Who owns the site? How are they vetted?
    That it comes up with a Chinese investment firm as #1.....
    "Buy what you know and do your homework". My homework is done on Yahoo Finance and USAA's website- put in the names and get the information. This year has been wild for stocks- this week I am up a lot. This is the first time, in a very long time, I have thought that stocks feel much more like gambling then anything else.

    1. Finviz makes its money from selling subscriptions. As to why a Chinese investment company came up first, it was the sort I did. I certainly don't recommend buying Jupai holdings because it came up first on my screen. First, I don't know that the qualities I searched for equate, in general, to better returns. The data itself is verifiable in places, including Yahoo finance.

      As far as buying what you know, there is a lot to be said for it; however, at this moment the stock i own that has done the best for me was selected as part of a motif. I had no idea the company existed, or what it made. Hoewver, it has increased in value almost 1000 percent in three years. I don't know if it would have come up on any screens but some folks like numbers and numbers aren't necessarily a bad place to START looking at stocks; however, I'll be the first to say that you shouldn't select a stock to buy strictly but adding conditions to a screener until you are down to one stock.