The 5 most popular stock screeners for filtering top stocks
Many private investors still believe that selecting promising stocks is an almost impossible task due to the large amount of data to be considered. It is almost impossible to sift through the countless metrics, financial data and key figures, evaluate them and factor them into the purchase decision. How did the last fiscal year go? Were profits up? How did the share price develop? Professional investors, on the other hand, would have an easier time of it, since they often work in a team that researches the necessary fundamental data, key figures, markets and companies in detail before investment decisions are made. This assessment is certainly not entirely unfounded, since until a few years ago, usable software was reserved for true professionals. However, private investors can now also access the necessary financial data of the stock markets with a so-called stock screener. This does not even require the installation of any software. Most stock screeners are cloud applications. Some even have free access. Stock screeners allow investors to sift through a large amount of structured company metrics. The display is either tabular or even graphical. The user can link the key figures to conditions in order to develop investment strategies from them. The strategies then decide when to buy or sell securities. In this article, we would like to show how screening works with five selected stock screeners.
What is a stock screener?
Stock screeners are helpful tools that help investors and analysts select suitable stocks for their investment strategy. In just a few seconds, the screener sifts through millions of pieces of data to find the right stock for the investor's search criteria. In doing so, the fundamental analysis takes into account numerous metrics and data, which the user can apply their own rules and validations to. In this way, it is possible to filter securities for different investment strategies, maturities, risk tolerances and, in some cases, personal preferences such as environmental friendliness. For inexperienced investors, there are usually proven investment strategies to try out. Those who are ambitious can delve deeper into the world of finance by familiarizing themselves with the significance of fundamental indicators such as price-earnings ratios (P/E ratios), equity ratios, market capitalization and cash flow and using these in their own strategies.
Stock screeners should not be confused with stock scanners. Even though both tools look similar at first and also offer similar functions, they are different from each other. Stock scanners provide traders with real-time data and information from the stock markets that are currently happening. A stock screener, on the other hand, provides quantitative data on past price performance up to the present and a history of fundamentals from annual reports. These help to literally screen the "intrinsic value" of a security and check its suitability for medium to long-term investment. A stock scanner is mainly used by day traders, scalpers and swing traders who have to make buy and sell decisions at lightning speed, possibly also on the basis of price differences on different stock exchanges.
How are stock screeners operated?
With few exceptions, screeners today are web-based applications, also called cloud applications or software-as-a-service (SaaS). After registering and authenticating with the screener of your choice, in most cases you are taken directly to the search screen for companies and can start selecting your filter criteria. Metrics such as revenue growth, profit margin, price, market capitalization and trading volume can be built into one's query with targets. The more parameters are selected, the more precise the selection of suitable stocks becomes.
From the filtered out shares, the user can then also have the historical development of relevant key figures displayed graphically. For example, an investor interested in dividends can see for himself whether the amount of dividends paid out has increased regularly over the last few years.
What a good stock screener has to offer
A good stock screener should be easy and intuitive to use. It should allow access to as large a period of time as possible, over 10 years into the past. Some investors rightly ask themselves where the data actually comes from. Ideally, the sources should be transparent, easy to see and reliable. However, since most screener providers buy their data from third parties, they cannot offer transparency. This is because they themselves have not extracted the data from the annual reports. It remains to be mentioned that not all stock screeners target the same audience. Many screeners specialize in one or more investment strategies and offer features here that others lack. While buy-and-hold investors will find a lot of valuable data with one provider, it is quite possible that another tool will better fit the needs of a day trader. Therefore, before choosing the right stock screener, investors should be clear about which strategy they want to use to invest their money.
What a stock screener can do
Basically, the use of screeners to minimize risks in securities trading is here to stay. They allow to sift through a large amount of objective data on the valuation of stock companies and facilitate the decision on which stock titles will ultimately make it into the investor's portfolio. However, it is important to keep in mind that stock screeners can only perform quantitative analysis. They can screen companies based on metrics from annual reports, share price performance, trading volumes and other objective indicators. For a qualitative view of a security, which value investors perform, a stock screener can contribute little. The management, the image of the company, the products, the market environment and the expected future development play a major role in the evaluation of an investment. It is also possible that a stock appears cheap from a purely quantitative point of view, but that this is due to market reasons, e.g. a new technology trend makes the company's product appear unattractive (as Nokia once did). These rather subjective criteria, however, must be gathered by the investor from other sources. Investors should consider stock screeners as a useful tool for quantitative pre-selection of suitable stocks. A final valuation should take into account not only quantitative and qualitative ratings, but also other factors such as the mood on the stock markets (sentiment).
Five popular stock screeners for investors
Now that we have explained how stock screeners work and what added value they offer investors, we would like to describe the screeners from leading providers on the market. In the following sections, we present five popular stock screeners in detail.
Addendum January 2023:
The largest and most popular stock screener is offered by the company TradingView. TradingView is especially convincing with its incredibly large selection of stocks, ETFs, cryptos and other investment opportunities. Other providers tend to focus on specific regions or industries. In the global environment, the TradingView platform is clearly superior to these providers. The tool covers securities from over 130 exchanges worldwide. Due to this enormous selection, TradingView is particularly suitable for investors who want to invest globally and broadly diversified in the international financial markets.
As far as reach is concerned, no other provider can hold a candle to the American company. The user numbers of the financial portal quoted in various sources range from 2 to 30 million. The provider convinces with over 100 fundamental and technical data, which can be set and filtered as desired. The possibility of visualizing company key figures and the price development has a very high level. The analysis possibilities increase from the free access to the paid versions. Due to the high number of users, a very active community has developed over time, where participants can exchange information with each other.
In order to become familiar with TradingView, users have the opportunity to test the program for 30 days free of charge. After the trial period, users can either downgrade to the free "Basic" version or opt for a subscription. The user can choose between three different subscriptions with monthly or annual payment. Customers get the basic "Pro" version for US$14.95 per month. Only five indicators per chart and two charts in one layout are available to the user here. The Pro+ and Premium versions, on the other hand, have ten and 25 indicators respectively. However, the Pro version is sufficient for a quick overview of possible investments. The Pro+ version is also expanded to include intraday charts, which is particularly interesting for day traders. Customers also have the possibility to export their charts to other programs. The premium version costs US$59.95 per month. The number of usable indicators in a chart is quadrupled and an unlimited number of charts can be saved. If you need real-time data of stocks or futures, you can add them to Tradingview starting with the Pro version for a fee.
If you are looking for a free alternative for your stock screening, the provider Zacks is the right address. Over the last few years, Zacks has built up a reputation for offering one of the best free screeners. Even the free version is sufficient for simple analyses. With Zacks, users can define their own modified criteria and thus obtain even more accurate results. A unique feature is Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction), which lists companies whose current earnings are expected to deviate from forecast expectations. This can help filter stocks that could experience surprise price gains or losses in the near future. In addition to the very good price-performance ratio, the large number of metrics and the broad data base stand out positively in Zacks. Only the chart analysis function leaves something to be desired.
The free registration allows users to access many searches, the newsletter, news and expert opinions. Those who want to work with even more research tools and have access to exclusive expert analyses and premium screens are well served by the Zacks Premium version. This version can initially be tested free of charge for 30 days when a credit card is deposited and is then available for US$249 annually. In this version, the customer has access to the best research tools for the most popular investment strategies. The Zacks Ultimate version is the access for ambitious investors. In addition to long-term investors, day traders and short term investors get their money's worth here. For long-term investors, there are exclusive reports and recommendations on a wide range of companies and investment strategies such as value or ETFs. Those who mainly want to invest in certain sectors or future trends will find a large number of expert analyses and recommendations here. The biggest drawback of the Ultimate version is certainly the price. After you can test the access for 30 days for one US$, the access costs from then on US$ 299 per month, i.e. US$ 2,995 per year.
3. Trade Ideas
Anyone who is a day trader will probably have heard of this tool. The software of the company Trade Ideas (TI for short), founded in 2003, offers one thing in particular; a fast AI network that provides information in real time. Thanks to various interfaces, TI's software can be connected to well-known brokers and thus offers many possibilities for trading. Day trading is all about speed.
Image Source: stockscreenertips.com
The software's AI system uses both chart and fundamental analysis to suggest the securities with the greatest return potential to its clients in real time. Since TI's servers are directly connected to major and important exchanges in North America, trades can be tracked and tested to help day traders make investment decisions. While many beginners should work with a standardized mask, experts have the ability to change the parameters of their mask on their own to identify even better opportunities. A special feature of TI is the testing area. Here strategies can be tested and evaluated in real time and on the real exchanges. Thanks to the possibility to work in multiple screens, it is possible to switch back and forth between the test trades and the real trades in a flash.
The outstanding technical possibilities of Trade Ideas have their price, of course. The cheapest subscription is the so-called Swing Pack. However, this is not a software, but rather a kind of newsletter, which provides new ideas for day trading every Sunday for 17 US$ per month. The cheapest version of the software already costs 84 US$ monthly, but offers only limited access to the numerous research tools at TI. Some AI tools and signals are not available in this version and the backtest functions are also limited. The premium package for an average of 167 US$ per month, on the other hand, offers everything a day trader's heart could wish for. If you want to take out a monthly subscription, you will have to pay as much as US$228 per month for the premium version. Even with the standard version it is still 118 US$ per month.
4. Stock Rover
The provider Stock Rover offers an incredible selection of fundamental data and facts and figures on company histories. Hardly any other provider is so well positioned in this segment. It offers ready-made screeners for a wide variety of long-term investment strategies and is therefore ideally suited for buy-and-hold investors. The scoring system developed in-house evaluates securities in terms of their suitability for various investment strategies. A small drawback: Only stocks from American and Canadian stock exchanges can be examined.
With regard to international diversification, this is a certain disadvantage that US-focused traders can certainly accept. When it comes to day trading, Stock Rover can't hold a candle to competitors like Trade Ideas by a long shot. Short-term investors definitely have better options than Stock Rover. However, the simple analysis and research tools offered by the company, which was founded in 2008, are very popular among buy-and-hold investors. With over 500 filters and the possibility of complex combinations of individual factors, hardly any other tool in this area comes close to Stock Rover. For trading, Stock Rover can be linked directly to reputable brokerage houses.
There is no possibility to use or test the Stock Screener of Stock Rover for free. With the so-called Entry Plan, customers already have access to over 4,000 ETFs, 40,000 funds and 8,500 North American stocks. Here, too, a high-quality screening can already be accessed. Many important features are already included in this plan for US$7.99 per month. For 17.99 US$ per month you get the premium version. Here there are over 90 additional metrics and other valuable tools, such as correlation analysis. While investors in the entry-level package can only access five years of history, the premium package already includes ten. Even the most expensive version, Premium Plus, is still relatively inexpensive at US$27.99 per month. If you really want to get deep into the analysis of long-term investments, you should also get this version. With over 650 metrics, it offers almost twice as many as the Premium version and has more powerful analysis tools for a wide range of investment strategies.
Last but not least, we would like to introduce you to TC2000 Stock Screener. As the only solution presented here, TC2000 does not offer a real cloud application but primarily a desktop app for Windows and Apple. The "Web Platform", which can be selected on the homepage under Downloads, is actually just a web console in which the Windows desktop app is loaded in the background. In this respect, you notice that the user elements are ultimately those of a Windows application. That's why the application doesn't always react without delays. Especially when moving internal windows, like the screener (EasyScan®), the browser needs some time to render the changed content.
TC 2000 offers a broad base of fundamentals coupled with indicators and selectable technical analysis. In 1995 TC2000 had won the award for the best stock screener, but that was 27 years ago. TC2000 is still logical and clearly structured, but the layout and thus the user experience is no longer up to date.
TC2000 is suitable for investors who want to place their money on North American stock exchanges in the medium to long term. The outstanding combination of fundamental and technical analysis provides a solid decision-making basis for identifying suitable short and long positions.
For US$9.99 per month, customers receive access to all basic functions as well as charts, watch lists and trading tips. Those who want to work with TC2000's proven research tools must upgrade to the Gold version. This subscription costs US$29.99 per month. It includes access to the most important screening tools, such as the EasyScan® stock & option screener, a chart drawing tool and the ability to work on multiple monitors (which, of course, any competitor web-based solution can already do). For those who really want to dive deep into the material, the Platinum subscription is suitable for 89.98 US$ per month. It offers the investor additional options, especially in terms of data from past trades and tests and tracking notifications. The Platimum version is therefore most suitable for investors who want to get the most out of their stock investments.
Like Stock Rover, TC2000 has the disadvantage that only symbols of the USA and Canadian stock exchanges are listed.
Addendum January 2023:
6. SimFin Analytics
A new stock screener was released by the company SimFin Analytics in early 2023 after 16 months of development. SimFin was until then only known as a supplier of fundamental data via API or bulk download. SimFin's new stock screener allows filtering stocks based on rules, including over 70 indicators and metrics. Here, the user can not only achieve exclusion through filtering, but can also create individual investment strategies by defining conditions and weightings of criteria. Users can also program their own so-called "custom indicators" to expand the range of key figures. As a result of the screening, the user receives a list of results. However, the stocks listed therein can still be ranked according to an overall score. Securities with a high score fulfill the set conditions par excellence, securities with a lower score only partially. The score ranking thus quickly reveals which are the top stocks. The historical development or statistical position in the overall market of each defined criterion can be directly inserted in the screen as a line chart, scatter plot or box chart. SimFin recalculates over 28 million data points every day (7,000+ per stock) to provide a day-by-day resolution.
SimFin starts with about 4,000 shares of North American stock exchanges. The PRO version offers 20 years of history. By the end of 2023, SimFin plans to expand its proprietary database to include European stock exchanges, so that around 10,000 stocks will then be available.
The highlight of the application is that the screener result can be backtested against historical data with a simple mouse click. This is even possible with the FREE version of SimFin. The backtesting allows statements to be made about whether, for example, an investment of 10,000 US$ 10 years ago, with the strategy previously defined in the screening, would have brought profits or losses. Daily, weekly and monthly re-balancing intervals are available for backtesting. The performance over time of this fictitious dynamic portfolio, which can contain any number of stocks, is displayed as a graph. As benchmarks, the user can display individual stocks or indices, such as the S&P 500, in the chart.
The paid versions of SimFin are available from US$37 per month. Thanks to Google's BigQuery technology, they have an incredibly fast data connection. Even complex evaluations can be completed in just a few seconds.
A unique selling point of SimFin is the transparency of the data. Since SimFin generates and validates the fundamental data itself via AI processes, every key figure can be stored on the company detail pages, with a clickable link to the original annual report. This feature should be particularly appealing to professional investors who value high-quality data.
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