When it comes to picking your own stocks it can be hard to sift through all of the data and opinions in order to make sure that you’re buying stocks at the right price. For instance, if you like Canadian dividend stocks, some may choose to screen for low book values or payout ratios instead of buying based on yield. One way to do this is to use an online stock screener to filter results based on valuations that work for you.
What I look for in an online stock screener is the ability to screen based on numerous fundamentals. My personal favourite due to my preference for dividend stocks and my implementation of the Smith Manoeuvre is the exclusive screener that fellow Canadian personal finance geek Mike Heroux creates and updates weekly over at Dividend Stocks Rock.
If I were more of a value investing or growth investing type of investor, I’d probably go with one of the stock screeners below. The key for making the best use of these screeners (and really the key to your entire investment plan) is to have a really solid grasp on WHY you want to prize certain metrics over others in regards to choosing specific stocks and specific price points. Study after study has shown that when investors have a thorough understanding of their plan – and write it down – that it helps them when market turbulence kicks up.
Top Canadian Stock Screeners
- Questrade Market Intelligence/TMX Stock Screener – The TMX and Questrade Stock Screener both pull from the same database to the best of my knowledge. (See our Questrade Review for full details.) Although not the most powerful stock screener out there, it’ s perhaps as powerful as it’s going to get for Canadian exchanges specifically. This screener is 100% free, and allows for multiple custom criteria for the most advanced investor. On the results page, you can edit the columns to display different criteria as you please.
- Google Finance – Since MSN Money was retired (see below), Google has picked up the slack with their own version of a free stock screener. They have recently included Canada and the TSX. Their screening options are comparable to TMX but with an interface that just seems to flow a bit better. There are still issues with not having certain filter abilities that I’m not a fan of though.
- Globe Investor – This one is a popular Canadian stock screener, but the free version is very basic. You can choose between US or Canadian markets, but only gives you the option to screen for a few variables like earnings, book value and dividend yield.
- Stock Charts – For those of you who like to use technical analysis of stock charts when choosing your buy/sell points, stockcharts.com has a nifty stock screener based on technical analysis alone (including TSX). I like to use these pre-defined screens for momentum ideas for the “play” portion of my portfolio.
- Finviz (former #1 pick, but bumped due to limited selection of stocks) This is a relatively new stock screener that I’ve found while searching for ideas in my top stock picks post and is perhaps my favorite at the moment. What gives this site an edge is that it offers every imaginable fundamental and technical screen choices along with the option of the US or Canadian market. For example, you can screen Canadian dividend stocks with a particular dividend yield, low payout ratio, and trading above its 50 day moving average. Something that is very rare and best of all, it’s free! Note though, if you are a newer investor, then this site may be a bit intimidating. Update: Readers have pointed out that Finwiz only shows Canadian stocks listed on the NYSE, which is not ideal.
Other Notable Stock Screeners
- Yahoo Finance – While I don’t have much experience using Yahoo’s stock screener, it appears to have a similar interface as Globe Investor with limited options. As well, this does not screen Canadian markets.
- MSN – As mentioned before, the main stock screen tool in town was the MSN Money tool. While this tool does not screen Canadian stocks, it has numerous valuation metrics to choose. However, it appears that this tool was retired in Nov 2009.
For those of you who buy and sell stocks, do you use a stock screener? If so, which ones do you use?