STOCK INVESTOR PRO > February 2009

Recent Improvements & Your Questions Answered

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Multiscreening Capability Added

For over 11 years, AAII has been tracking 50-plus stock screening methodologies. In following a given strategy, the hope is that the underlying characteristics of the stocks matching the screening criteria will allow them to outperform the overall market.

Taking this one step further, is a stock that passes multiple complete screening approaches more attractive than a stock that just passes one screening approach? Possibly, if the collection of screening approaches is based upon solid financial principles and diverse enough to capture unique, yet desirable qualities.

In order to allow users to identify stocks that pass multiple screening strategies, a Multiscreen Selector tool has been added to Stock Investor. It is available at the beginning of February 2009 with the monthly Stock Investor Pro update CD as well as with all of the weekly update files available for download from the Weekly Data Updates area of the Stock Investor section of AAII.com (www.aaii.com/stockinvestor/downloads/).

Stock Investor Pro

Figure 1.
The new Multiscreen
Selector allows you
to evaluate multiple
screens at once.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO
SEE FULL SIZE.

To open the Multiscreen Selector in Stock Investor, select the Tools menu from the top of the program window and then select Multiscreen Selector (Tools—Multiscreen Selector). Alternatively, simultaneously pressing the Alt and M keys (ALT + M) will open the Multiscreen Selector window (Figure 1).

The Available Screens list includes those screens that are pre-built into the software as well as any screens you have created and saved. Highlighting a screen from the Available Screens list and then clicking on the Add > button will add it to the list of screens to be evaluated by the Multiscreen Selector. Similarly, double-clicking on an available screen will add it to the list of screens the selector will evaluate.

As you add screens for evaluation, the Multiscreen Selector will indicate how many companies pass each of the screens (Figure 2). There is no limit to the number of screens the Multiscreen Selector can evaluate at once. However, the more screens you add, the less likely it is that any stocks will match all of the criteria of the selected screens. Also, sometimes after you add a screen to be evaluated, the list of available screens will disappear. Simply click on the area under Available Screens to see the list.

Figure 2.
The number of
companies passing
each chosen screen
is shown.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO
SEE FULL SIZE.

Once you have added all of the screens you wish to evaluate, click on the Apply button to see how many companies passed all of the screens. If at least one company passed all of the specified screens, the results will appear in the Stock Notebook. However, a message box will appear if the combination of screens you selected produces zero companies (Figure 3). Also, this message will tell you which screen was being evaluated when the query ended. In this event, the list of companies in the Stock Notebook is the set of companies that passed all of the screens up to the screen being evaluated.

By default, the Multiscreen Selector looks for those stocks that pass all of the screens selected for evaluation. This is indicated when the radio button next to Apply And in the middle of the Multiscreen Selector window is marked. However, you can also use the selector to identify stocks that pass any of the selected screens. You do this by clicking on the radio button to the left of Apply Or. When Apply Or is selected, clicking on the Apply button will then generate the list of stocks passing any one of the chosen screens.

Figure 3.
The Multiscreen evaluation
stops when it reaches
zero companies passing.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO
SEE FULL SIZE.

The results of the Multiscreen query are loaded into the Stock Notebook. From there, you can save the listing as a portfolio, sort the results, export the companies and data, or print reports.

Expanded Earnings Estimate Data

Last December, Thomson Reuters, the primary data provider for Stock Investor, stopped supplying week-ago consensus earnings estimate data. However, an additional historical consensus estimate—the mean estimate three months ago—was made available, so this figure has been added to the Stock Investor database. In addition, the prior quarter earnings surprise was added to the program, allowing users to now see surprise data for the last two fiscal quarters (Figure 4).

Figure 4.
Earnings estimate data
now includes the
mean estimate
three months ago
and the prior quarter surprise.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO
SEE FULL SIZE.

Weekly SSG Files Now Available for Download

In response to user requests, we have started offering weekly SSG (stock selection guide) files for download from the Weekly Data Updates area of the Stock Investor section of AAII.com (Figure 5). These data files can be used with NAIC/Better Investing products, including Investor’s Toolkit. The SSG files will be updated each week, along with the weekly Stock Investor Pro data files.

Here are the steps to download and extract the SSG files:

Figure 5.
SSR files are now
available for weekly
download and use with
NAIC/Better Investing
products.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO
SEE FULL SIZE.

  • At the Stock Investor download page, click on the SSG Files button to download the weekly SSG file (ssg.exe). If you have problems downloading the files, try clicking on the Secondary Server link below the SSG Files button. We strongly recommend that you download the file to your computer, preferably your desktop so you can easily locate the file when the download is complete.
  • When the download process is complete, double-click on the ssg.exe file (you may receive a Security Warning message, but you can click Run to continue).
  • You will be asked to confirm the directory to which the SSG files will be extracted. You can choose the default directory (C:\SSG) or change the path to a different location on your PC.
  • Click Unzip when you have selected the directory. While it may appear that nothing is happening, the files are being extracted to the designated location.
  • When the unzip process is complete, click OK.
  • You can then close the WinZip Self-Extractor window.

Answers to User Questions

Why is it that many companies in the database do not have depreciation data on their annual or quarterly income statements?

The financial statement data in Stock Investor is taken from annual (10-K) and quarterly (10-Q) reports that companies file with the SEC. More and more, companies are choosing not to break out their depreciation/amortization expenses on their income statement. Instead, they lump this in with SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expenses. If a company does not report the data as a specific line item on their financials, Thomson Reuters, the primary data provider for Stock Investor, will not break out the data for its datafeed; to do so would, in effect, create “manufactured” data.

Since companies do report depreciation/amortization on their statement of cash flow, we are investigating the possibility of adding this data to the cash flow statement data in the Stock Investor database in the future.

I make use of the full weekly data updates, but when I miss a week I want to be able to get the weekly update without having to install the full program/data update file that is in the data archive. Why don’t you also provide the full data update in the archive?

In order to avoid confusion, we offer only the full program/data update file in the Stock Investor Pro Data Archive (www.aaii.com/stockinvestor/downloads/archive/). The file itself is about 10M larger than the full weekly update file, but with a high-speed Internet connection, the added download time is negligible.

When installing a full/program data update from the archive, be sure to pay attention when going through the installation menu. You will be prompted to either retain your user files or overwrite them. If you have created your own portfolios, data fields, or stock screens, it is important to specify that you wish to retain your user files. Otherwise, they will be overwritten and you will have to start from scratch.

Is it possible to export data from Stock Investor to a spreadsheet?

If you are interested in manipulating Stock Investor data outside of the program, you can export fields listed in a view. To begin, make sure that the companies for which you wish to export data are in the stock notebook—the entire database, a portfolio, or the results of a screening filter. In addition, you can sort the data by a given data field—the order in which the companies will be exported. In Stock Investor, the default rank is by company name, ascending order. However, you can use the rank function (select Rank from the Tools menu) to order the companies in another way.

Next, select Export Data from the File menu. This will open an Export Data dialog box with pull-down menus where you can specify View, Type, and To (the location to which you want the data exported). Data can be exported to several file formats, including Excel spreadsheet, Xbase database, and comma-delimited and tab-delimited ASCII text files. Once you are finished, click the Ok button to start the export process.

When you export data from Stock Investor, two files are created during the export process. One file contains the exported financial data and the other is a so-called “key file” with a file name ending in _KEY. The key file contains the headings of the data points that were exported and consists of two columns of data—the short field name and long field name. The short name is limited to 10 characters—it is the data field name used internally for Stock Investor and it is exported with any export file. The long name is the “plain English” name of the data field that is visible when you work with the field within Stock Investor. You can open the key file, copy the field names, and transpose them over the short names in your exported file for easier identification and analysis.

I recently purchased a new computer and want to move my Stock Investor user data from my old computer to the new one. How do I do this?

Exporting your user-defined data from one computer to another is a two-step process; both steps use Stock Investor Utilities. (Note: Stock Investor cannot be running when attempting to open Stock Investor Utilities.) To launch Stock Investor Utilities, double-click on the Stock Investor Utilities icon on your desktop (if you placed one there at installation) or click the Start button (from your computer’s Taskbar) and choose Programs > AAII > Stock Investor > Stock Investor Utilities (assuming you followed the default installation settings).

The first step is to back up all the necessary files used to store your screens, portfolios, views, notebooks, and custom fields. After selecting “backup user files” and then clicking the Backup button at the bottom of the Utilities window, you will be prompted to enter a destination for the files. Type A: in the box provided to backup the user files to a floppy disk; select the ‘…’ button to designate a different drive location in the directory tree; or choose another drive such as a flash drive. If you choose a directory on your old computer, you’ll need to copy this directory to your new system.

Once you have backed up the files, the second step is to restore them on the new system. Open Stock Investor Utilities on the new system, select “restore user files,” and click the Restore button at the bottom of the window. You will then be prompted for the location of the backup files (floppy drive, flash drive, etc.). Once you locate the files, click OK to restore.

After the files have been restored, select Yes when prompted to “recalculate all custom fields.” Close Stock Investor Utilities (by clicking the Done button at the bottom of the window) when this is finished and before opening the Stock Investor program.

On-Line Only Subscriptions

Now that SSG files are available for download, all of the data provided on the monthly Stock Investor Pro update CDs are available on-line. This has allowed us to start offering an “on-line only” Stock Investor subscription to those who no longer wish to receive the monthly disks.

Going forward, those wishing to receive their data updates exclusively from AAII.com, and not receive any disks, can renew their Stock Investor Pro subscriptions at an annual rate of $198. This option is intended for those who have a high-speed Internet connection (cable modem, DSL, etc.).

For $238 a year, subscribers can still receive 12 monthly update disks, as well as have access to weekly and month-end data updates from AAII.com. This higher cost is our first price increase on Stock Investor in over 10 years and reflects the ever-rising costs associated with postage and disk fulfillment.

If it is not yet time for you to renew, you can still opt out of receiving the monthly Stock Investor Pro disks by contacting AAII Member Services via E-mail at members@aaii.com or by calling (800) 428-2244.

Stock Investor Technical Resources

Stock Investor subscribers have several resources at their disposal to solve any technical problems running the software, or to answer questions regarding the actual use of the program. The subscribers area of AAII.com gives you access to a Stock Investor “getting started” guide, information on pre-built stock screens, a troubleshooting area, answers to common user questions, current and archived issues of Stock Investor News, as well as program information and popular user topics. To access this information, visit our Web site at www.aaii.com/stockinvestor or go to the AAII home page and click on Stock Investor Pro in the left-hand navigation bar under the Publications category. When asked for login information, enter your 10-digit AAII member number as both your Login Name and Password (if you have not established personalized login criteria).

If the Web resources do not answer your question or solve your problem, you may also contact us via E-mail at TechSupport@aaii.com. In order for us to diagnose your problem and provide a solution in a timely manner, please be sure to include pertinent information in your message:

  • The exact contents of any error messages you may have received;
  • The operating system you are running (i.e., Windows 2000, XP, Vista, etc.);
  • The steps that led to the error; and
  • Whether you had the program previously installed on your system.

This detailed information will help us resolve the problem more quickly, without having to contact you for additional details.