Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Use a Stock Screener to make a ‘buy’ list

The down trends in the Sensex and Nifty index charts have completed nine months, and are showing no signs of reversals. In fact, relentless selling by the FIIs in August ‘11 has turned a bad situation (from the bullish point of view) even worse.

Any sensible investor would stay far away from buying in a stock market that is showing all the signs of a full-fledged bear market. So, why a post about making a ‘buy’ list? If you have participated in the Boy Scout movement, then you wouldn’t need an explanation. The motto of the Boy Scouts is: ‘Be Prepared’.

Just as all good things must come to an end – like the heady bull run from the Mar ‘09 low did when it peaked out in Nov ‘10, bad times don’t last forever. In the not too distant future, inflation rates will start to moderate and interest rates will be lowered. The stock market will ‘discount’ the good news in advance and start to rise much earlier. That would be a good time to buy – provided you are ready with a ‘buy’ list.

Small investors face a big problem. With thousands of company stocks traded in the stock market, how does one begin to make a short-list of stocks for more detailed research? This is where a Stock Screener can come in handy. What is a Stock Screener? It is a software that allows you to use certain fundamental criteria to make a short-list of stocks that meet those criteria.

Which Stock Screener should you use? Every financial site probably has one, so there is a lot of choice. You have to do a bit of trial and error to find out one that works well for your style of investing. You can start with the Stock Scanner available at the BSE web site:


It is quite rudimentary, and has only four fundamental criteria that you can use: Last traded price (LTP), Market Capitalisation, EPS and P/E. Each of the four criteria has a range of values to further fine tune your search. Try out with different permutations and combinations to arrive at a short-list from all the stocks traded on the BSE.

Edelweiss has a Stock Screener (as do many other such sites):


This also has four fundamental criteria, with Dividend Yield in place of LTP. An additional feature is you can short-list by specific sectors. If you don’t mind registering at the site (it is free, but you will get periodic mailers), then you can add more criteria for your short-listing.

Let me add here that I’m not a great fan of Stock Screeners – mainly because the criteria I use for short-listing are not available in most of the free software. In any case, you have to do a detailed study of each short-listed stock to find out if it merits a place on your ‘buy’ list.

A Stock Screener can be a good first step for short-listing stocks for making a ‘buy’ list. Be sceptical of unknown stocks that get short-listed. Don’t think that you have ‘discovered’ a hidden gem that the whole world has missed. If you keep trying different combinations, you may get lucky and stumble upon an undervalued stock.

Happy hunting!


Jalal said...

I also found some more stock screener with more features . please check it.


The last one have separated Stock screener with Fundamental and Technical.

Subhankar said...

Appreciate your inputs, Jalal.

EkVeer said...

www.capital4.com provides the best stock screen I have seen till date.

Ganpat said...

A very useful post ,Subhankarji,Thanks a lot!

A word of caution to the users here.
Kindly check the data presented by any screener before concluding.
I have seen a few free sites do not upgrade informations on stock splits,bonus etc which invariably lead to wrong conclusions.
Good Luck to all

Subhankar said...

@EV: Thanks for your input.

@Ganpat: You have made an important point. If the database isn't updated, results from the screener will be erroneous. One more reason why a Stock Screener should only be the first step in stock research.