“Nice to Have” features
Once you find stock screeners with your personal “must
have” features, the benefits associated with the nice to have and advanced features can make a difference. Take into account your personal preferences as well.
Remember, screeners are stock screening tools and you
are looking for the best tool for the job.
The nice to have features
The following features may be requirements based on your
investing strategies. But whether they are must have or nice to have, they are worth considering:
- Track screen performance – many stock
screeners provide access to a portfolio where the results of the screen can be tracked. Using the online broker Folio Investing is another way to track performance going forward. More on Folio Investing.
- Restrict the number of results – a screen that provides
too many results defeats the purpose of screening. It is possible to restrict the results manually but it is nice if the screener provides the
- Percentile ranking of criteria – ranking, like relative
comparisons, eliminates the need for absolute values and allows the screen
to function under diverse market conditions.
- Create a view of data that is independent of the
screening criteria – you should consider viewing more than just the data
used in the screen. If you believe other data may be useful for further analysis,
now is the time to save it.
- Sorting the results by any data field – if the
screener does not allow sorting in the screening process, you may need to export the results and finish the process externally. Sorting is actually single variable ranking.
- Weighted criteria - assign weighting to criteria as you feel they are more or less important in the ranking process.
- Multi-factor ranking of passing companies - instead of using a single factor to select the best companies, use a combination of factors to create a company ranking. Criteria can also be weighted. For more detail, see Stock Ranking Systems.
- Technical analysis – if your strategies rely on technical
indicators as part of the screening process, having this built into the
screener eliminates the need to check the results in another screener.
- Advanced logic – screeners default to “AND” logic. This means that all conditions you specify must be met. Suppose you want to screen for stocks with either a PE ratio less than one “OR” a Price/Sales ratio less than one. “AND” logic screens will provide only stocks with both conditions – not what you were looking for. Some stock screeners provide “OR” logic which allows either condition (or both) to be met. Custom formulas can sometimes accomplish the same thing.
- Custom formulas – if the exact data point you are interested in is not available, it may be possible to generate it from other data if you can create a calculation.
- Video support - screeners are comprehensive tools. "How To" videos illustrating available features can significantly reduce the learning time.
- User forums - it is very useful to converse with other users about ideas, techniques and issues.