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Computerized Investing > May/June 2004

Comparison: Web-Based Stock Screening Services

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by John Bajkowski

Jumping in and out of investments without any overall game plan or rules to help guide your decisions is a practice likely to lead to disappointing results. We have studied the investing processes of many investment gurus and, while they use different rules in selecting their stocks, they are consistent in employing a disciplined system to guide them along the way. Whether you are a short-term trader or a long-term buy and hold investor, a system to help overcome emotions and provide a consistent framework for making investment decisions is critical. Stock screening programs can be a very effective tool in a disciplined approach to investing by allowing you to quickly sort through thousands of stocks and identify a few that possess some qualities indicating that they merit further study.

The particular characteristics that investors seek out vary depending upon individual investment philosophy and even timeframe. A value investor may look for financially sound, large-cap stocks with a price-earnings ratio below 70% of all other stocks exhibiting a solid expected growth rate that has been revised upward recently. On the other hand, a growth investor may seek out smaller stocks with strong earnings growth and increasing price momentum.

Beyond identifying stock ideas, fundamental screening systems are also surrounded by company and industry data that serve as a framework to investigate any investment tips or ideas that come your way in an organized, consistent fashion.

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