The best stock screener allows investors to quickly filter through thousands of stocks using their own unique criteria. It could be something as simple as a P/E ratio or dividend yield range. But most stock screens use several variables just to find that perfect stock for your portfolio. When you know what you’re looking for, the right stock screener will cut your research time from hours to seconds.
Back in the olden days (the early 90’s), the average investor had to pore over volumes of Standard and Poors. It could take hours or even days to find a stock that met your standards. Then the internet came along and knocked the time down to nanoseconds. You could spend a few minutes entering your search criteria and a second later it would spit out a list of stocks. If the list was too big, you just refined your search or added new variables.
Since then, tech changes have allowed for more complex stock screens. You can use complex algorithms, backtesting, and even preset criteria that try to mimic the greatest investors. Basically, the more you know and understand about each variable, the more accurate your screens and results.
For now, let’s stick to the basics. Access to predefined stock screens can go a long way when you’re learning. The only way to get familiar with all the variables is time. Once you have the basics down, a free stock screener might be all you’ll need.
Premium Stock Screener
If you’re new to stock screening, using a free screener might not be the best place to start. It can be confusing and have no explanation of how it’s used. This is why I recommend starting out with a premium stock screener. You’ll get better guidance on how to use the tools available, access to preset screens, and a wealth of other information that is well worth the money.
Finbox offers a complete financial toolbox with the premium plan. It allows you to screen for stocks across multiple markets — U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.
The stock screener has over 800 fundamental metrics. It includes data export in Google Sheets, Excel, or CSV file format and spreadsheet add-ons to pull Finbox data directly into your spreadsheets and models to instantly break that data down further. It also comes with preset screens, watchlists, charts, hedge fund portfolio trackers, and more.
It’s the most extensive screener I’ve come across for global markets. It’s also the screener I use. And you can sign up for free to test it out first.
Portfolio123 takes a unique approach that’s different from the other screening tools. It combines a ranking system with a screening tool to find stocks.
The ranking system allows you to create and rank a universe of stocks based on one or more metrics of your choosing. You then set up a screen to eliminate stocks from that universe. The screening tool is extensive. You can use simple metrics or create complex math formulas. It comes with preset ranking systems and screens or you can create your own, a backtesting tool to see how your screen would have performed in the past, and, for serious investors, you can implement the strategy by connecting to your brokerage account. There’s a learning curve but the tutorials and webinars do a great job walking you through the process.
Portfolio123 is the perfect tool for anyone who wants to research and create their own rules-based investing strategies. Sign up using their trial offer today.
FINVIZ Elite is one of the better premium stock screens online. It comes complete with real-time quotes and charts, pre-market data, and email alerts. You can screen for technical or fundamental data — even technical chart analysis, and correlations. Lastly, the ability to backtest the profitability of your custom screens against historical data is key to any worthwhile strategy.
The FINVIZ stock screener might be too advanced for someone just starting out, but it does offer a free version, discussed below, that you can spend as much time on before upgrading.
GuruFocus is a research site dedicated to the value investing ideal. It offers a wealth of free information. But the real value is with the premium membership. You’ll get access to value strategies, valuation tools, and the stock screener. The All-in-One screener has over 120 filters and several predefined value screens that include the Net-Net screener, the Buffett-Munger screener, and the Undervalued screener. In all, the site is built for value investors.
Morningstar is a leader in independent investment research. While it offers a free screener covered below, the premium membership is full of tools and information you won’t get anywhere else. The premium screener allows you to refine your custom screens with over 300 fundamental data filters and offers several predefined screens built by their top analysts. You can also save your custom screens too. Another great feature allows you to save and track any passing stocks through the portfolio manager.
The premium service is more than just a stock screener though. It includes the Morningstar stock analyst reports, stock grades, portfolio manager, and all of Morningstar’s proprietary information like star ratings, economic moat ratings, buy/sell prices, and more. You can look into the free Morningstar screener below or take advantage of the premium membership with this 14-day free trial.
Old School Value
Old School Value uses valuation and analysis software to help you screen for winning stocks. Subscribers gain access to a suite of tools that start with pre-built screens. You can customize the pre-built screen or start from scratch using several hundred different fundamental metrics. Once built, you can dive into stocks that pass your criteria.
You’ll find detailed financial statements on each company, 6 different valuation models, and the Action Score system that grades each stock based on quality, value, and growth. The site is built for analysts or anyone who wants to learn about valuation.
ValIdea takes a quantitative approach by building factor-based strategies backed by proven research. Some of the strategies are built to mimic the strategies of legendary investors like Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch and others take a pure factor approach. Altogether, there are 22 strategies that cover growth, momentum, value, small caps, shareholder yield, or a combination that has proven to produce high returns.
The best part is you can choose one screen to follow or take a collaborative approach with the guru stock screen. It lets screen for stocks that fit multiple strategies. Subscribers can access a number of ETF portfolio strategies and a trend-following strategy.
The Acquirer’s Multiple is a deep value stock screen based on the research found in the books Deep Value and The Acquirer’s Multiple by Tobias Carlisle. The site offers four separate preset screens — Large Caps, Small and Micro Caps, All Investable Stocks, and a Canadian screen of TSX Stocks — sorted by valuation. A few other metrics are included like buyback yield and shareholder yield.
The Acquirer’s Multiple is the perfect screen for those who have read either of the books or someone who prefers pre-built screens backed by sound research. It’s also great for anyone just starting out but eventually wants to learn to build their own stock screens. Lastly, anyone that wants to give the Acquirer’s Multiple a test run can sign up for the Large Cap screen for free.
AAII stands for the American Association of Individual Investors. Subscribing to AAII accesses a wealth of information on the site, local chapter events, and a ton of prebuilt stock screens. The screens are broken into two categories: gurus and factors. Factor screens are based on metrics — like value, momentum, yield, etc. — that research has shown to produce high returns. The guru screens are based on the strategies of investing gurus like Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Ben Graham, Philip Fisher, and others. In total, AAII has roughly 60 screens available.
AAII is a great place for anyone that wants to use the screens as a starting point to further research, wants to learn how to build their own screen, or just wants to follow a pre-built screen or two independently.
Free Stock Screener
If you have experience with stock screeners already, there are several free screeners available. However, most are limited in comparison to the premium screening tools.
FINVIZ offers the best free stock screener around. For beginners, this is the place to start, learn, and build your experience. If you already know what you’re doing, it might be the only screening tool you’ll need. It offers screening criteria for fundamental and technical data. FINVIZ doesn’t offer any preset screens and you’ll have to be a registered user to save any custom screens but registering is free.
TIKR added a free global stock screener to its platform recently. It includes 15 years of financial data and forward estimates, with over 1,000 data points, on over 50,000 stocks worldwide. And the filters can be applied in three ways: absolute value, year-over-year change, or annual growth rate. That’s a lot of screening power for free. But you also get earnings call transcripts, public filings, insider transactions, and more. Sign up to give it a try.
The Magic Formula
The Magic Formula is a screen built by Joel Greenblatt based on the findings in his book The Little Book that Beats the Market. The screen looks for the highest-ranked stocks based on the combination of quality and value. A strategy for buying and selling stocks is included. The screen is free to anyone how signs up. However, I recommend reading the book first before using the screen.
Morningstar also offers a free stock screener but you’ll have to register first (it’s free) to get access to it. Honestly, its worth it just for the free articles and market information. The free screener is a simplified version of its premium screener. It only includes 18 filters but does offer several predefined screens to use. Though you won’t be able to save anything. It’s obvious that Morningstar saves the best for its premium members. So if that’s something you’re thinking about, take advantage of the free membership and use that free trial mentioned earlier to test the premium features.
Yahoo! Finance has offered one of the more advanced free screeners for years. I’d recommend using the Java version, over the HTML version, since it’s more extensive and offers more options. The screening tool does come with 19 simple preset screens. From a user perspective, it’s not the easiest screening tool available. But it does offer a built-in mutual fund and bond screener, as well as the ability to export to a spreadsheet. You’ll have to be a registered user to save any custom screens, which is free to anyone.
The premium screening tools offer the best options and fit well with anyone wanting to learn. If you just plan to focus on simple stock screens, a free screener is all you need. Eventually, you want to find a stock screener that has the criteria and filters to match your investment strategy.