How to Use Stock Screeners?

There are thousands of options available in the United States stock market in which an investor can invest his money. There are more than twenty thousand publicly traded companies in the stock market in the US. Therefore, it becomes a very difficult task for any investor either a beginner or an experienced one to decide which company to invest in. It is impossible to know the names of all companies then how can it be possible to analyze all of them.So, the question arises, what do people use to decide where to invest and which companies to ignore? The answer is usually derived with something called a stock screener. A stock screener is nothing but a tool which is used by investors to short list the companies which are of their interest and where they can invest their hard earned money. Stock screening is a process of shortlist companies which have the potential to be in your portfolio. This screening is done based on the parameters provided by the investor himself.How the share screener works is very simple. Behind a screener is a huge database which has data about all the publicly traded companies. It contains even the historical data which goes past many years and decades. The investor would log on to the screener and give the parameters which interest him to shortlist the companies. The stock screeners act as search engines and bring out the list of companies which match the criteria provided by the investor. These criteria can be anything like minimum market capitalization, minimum revenue of the company, a particular sector, P/E ratio, profit margin etc.There are various stock screeners available in the market today. Most of them are online tools therefore, you just need a reliable and fast internet connection and you can download the stock screener to your computer. The screener makes use of the back end database and then provides the list of companies as per the criteria given as input.Some of the most popular screeners are available online on websites such as Yahoo Finance stock screener, MSN Money website and the Morning Star internet site. And the good part is that all these screeners are absolutely free of cost. There are basically two types of screeners – basic screener and customizable screener. For a beginner in stock market, the basic screener is sufficient while the customizable stock screener is often used by expert and experienced investors in the stock market.

The Great Paradox: Why Stocks Aren’t Getting Respect

Investors love to imagine their decisions are based on logic and foresight. But by using inconsistent arguments, investors have fooled themselves yet again, and created what I call the “Great Paradox.”For example, stocks have become the Rodney Dangerfield of investments: They can’t get no respect. Despite corporate earnings increasing 125 percent since 2009, many investors remain skeptical of the outlook for stocks. Bloomberg News reported recently that valuations for U.S. equities have been stuck in a remarkably long-running slump that hasn’t responded to this surge in profits, suggesting that investors don’t trust the growth to continue.That lack of trust is evident in the low Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio of the S&P 500, currently less than 13 times the 2012 earnings forecast. Compare that to the average historical P/E ratio of 16.4 times. If investors valued companies in the S&P 500 according to the historical average P/E, the S&P 500 would be 30 percent higher. But no such luck.Corporations proved their flexibility and adaptability during the Great Recession. Corporate profits have been very strong, rebounding much faster than GDP. Corporations now run leaner than they did a few years ago and will benefit greatly from any economic tailwind. Yet many remain skeptical that this profit resurgence will be sustained.On the other hand, bonds have performed extraordinarily well in recent years – so well, in fact, that many (myself included) see limited remaining upside. There’s not much of anywhere for long-term bond prices to go other than down, since those values run directly inverse to interest rates, which are currently nearly as low as they can be. Meanwhile, despite a worsening fiscal government outlook, U.S. Treasury bonds have done so well over the last 30 years that they have outperformed stocks. The last time that happened was prior to the Civil War.Still, investors have poured billions into bond mutual funds over the last five years, and have removed billions from stock mutual funds. According to data aggregated by TrimTabs, investors have removed money from U.S. stock mutual funds in each of the last five years, including approximately $100 billion last year alone. Meanwhile, investors have added money to bond mutual funds in each of the last six years, including more than $110 billion into bond mutual funds last year. Investors seem to think that bonds will continue to appreciate indefinitely; at the same time, they distrust that current corporate earnings will continue. They have fallen into the Great Paradox.Call me crazy, but I believe fundamentals matter. As Warren Buffett observed, “In the short term, the market is a popularity contest. In the long term, the market is a weighing machine.”There’s no reason to think stocks won’t perform well in a slow-growth economic environment and even better in a good environment. And unlike for bonds, being a strong performer isn’t an anomaly for stocks. For those with a sufficiently long-term perspective, clinging to bonds isn’t a position that makes sense. As Jeremy Siegel, finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia, told Bloomberg News, “The rally in bonds is a once in a millennium event, but it’s absolutely mathematically impossible for bonds to get any kind of returns like this going forward whereas stock returns can repeat themselves, and are likely to outperform. If you missed the rally in bonds, well, then that’s it.” (1)Why are so many people tempted to keep favoring bonds and avoiding stocks, ignoring solid reasons to do the reverse? One reason could be herd mentality. As my colleague Benjamin Sullivan observed, many investors follow the crowd, buying overvalued stocks when the financial media and Main Street are optimistic about the market, and shunning stocks when prices ebb, despite the fact that it makes more sense to buy low and sell high.Think about it. Should you buy stocks when everyone thinks the world is ending – say in March 2009, when the S&P 500 closed as low as 677 – or when everything is Pollyannaish – say in October 2007, when the S&P 500 closed as high as 1565?Though the timing is difficult to pinpoint, one should to try to buy near the height of pessimism and sell or reduce close to the height of optimism. As legendary investor Sir John Templeton once said, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria.”Investors may also be tempted to let past performance overly determine their expectations for future behavior. However, while it’s smart to glance in the rearview mirror from time to time, looking only backwards and ignoring the path ahead will inevitably lead to messy smash-ups.No one can forecast exactly what the market will do in the short term. But there’s no reason for the excessive pessimism that investors seem to apply only to stocks. This summer, Burton G. Malkiel, a professor of economics at Princeton, wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “We have abundant evidence that the average investor tends to put money into the market at or near the top and tends to sell out during periods of extreme decline or volatility. Over long periods of time, the U.S. equity market has provided generous average annual returns. But the average investor has earned substantially less than the market return, in part from bad timing decisions.” (2)Uncertainty is frightening, and it isn’t surprising that investors are tempted to cut and run at the first sign of trouble. Investors have clearly lost confidence in stocks in recent years. But post-recession, it seems many investors have gone a step farther than caution. I suppose two bear markets during the same decade are enough to make investors jumpy. Meanwhile, investors pile into a bond market with limited upside and considerable downside.Warren Buffet made the following analogy: “I’m going to buy hamburgers for the rest of my life. When hamburgers go down in price, we sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in the Buffett household. When hamburgers go up, we weep. For most people, it’s the same way with everything in life they will be buying – except stocks. When stocks go down, you can get more for your money, but people don’t like them any more. That sort of behavior is especially puzzling.” It’s not only puzzling; it’s costly.Hockey legend Wayne Gretzsky put it best when he said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” The puck has spent the last five-, 10-, and 30-year periods making money for bond investors. I suspect the next five, 10, and 30 years are going to be in stocks’ end of the rink.Sources:1) Bloomberg, “Say What? In 30-Year Race, Bonds Beat Stocks”2) The Wall Street Journal, “Don’t Panic About the Stock Market ”

Yahoo! Finance – What Sets This Finance Website Apart?

“What Obama Must Say Tonight,” “10 Tax Moves to Make in 2010,” and “Ailing Banks Favor Salaries Over Shareholders,” are all examples of the dozens of articles that could be found today at Yahoo! Finance. Yahoo! Finance is a finance website that offers lots of free information and tools all related to finance. There are many websites today that offers resources and tools related to personal finance and investing, so what does Yahoo! Finance have to offer?*Free- Although there are some services available for a fee, accessing the Yahoo! Finance website is free and so is the use of many tools.*Personalized Updates- If you choose to set up an account, you can get personalized updates when you log on about stocks or companies that you’re interested in.*Up to Date- This is one of the best things that sets Yahoo! Finance apart. Market indexes and updates are updated frequently and the “news” is fresh.*At a Glance- You can see Market index averages for the day including the DOW, NASDAQ, S&P 500 and more, as well as graphs showing the trend in these averages for the most recent working day.What’s Up at Yahoo! Finance?In addition to the Yahoo! Finance home page, you can find helpful pages on:-Investing-News and Opinion-Personal Finance-My Portfolios (if you choose to organize your financial information here)- A Tech TickerOn the Investing Pages at Yahoo! Finance:Find out about “Today’s Markets,” including recent earnings statements, recent stock splits and more.Mutual Funds, Stocks, ETFs, Options, Industries and Currencies are all explored furher. Find research, converters, calculators, articles and more.You can also learn more about world stock index levels, world news and exchange rates are under “International.”"Research and Education” offers a business term glossary, personal tutorials on finance and investing and more.Of course Yahoo! Finance also offer “Community,” a section where you can chat, ask questions or join groups.On the Personal Finance Pages at Yahoo! Finance:Get your personal finances organized at “Banking and Budgeting.” Free trials of online bill pay are available. Frequent offers include free for 6 months and $4.95 thereafter.More under Personal Finance…*Insurance*Taxes*Loans*Real estate* Family and Income*RetirementOn the News and Opinion Pages at Yahoo! Finance:Look for articles on…*Industry news*New technology*Top picks by expertsCreating a Yahoo! Finance Account:Creating an account at Yahoo! Finance is easy and free. Once you’ve created an account, you can personalize your logon so that the information that is important to you will be displayed including stock prices and relevant news pertaining to companies you are interested in.The Perks of Yahoo! Finance:Yahoo! Finance visitors and members enjoy that there’s so much financial information in one place and that the articles and financial charts on Yahoo! Finance are kept up to date. They also like that so many of the services available are free. Visitors also applaud Yahoo! for having limited ads.Popular Tools at Yahoo! Finance:There are rate charts and calculators for Mortgage, Home Equity, Savings, Auto Loans and Credit Cards for fixed loans and ARMs. You can see rates across the country as well view rates in your area.What’s not to love about Yahoo! Finance?While many users like the non-nonsense format at Yahoo! Finance, others find the finance web sites look to be drab, boring and unexciting with little more than two colors, black and blue, a limited photos.Still, Yahoo! Finance is recommended as a finance website that has a lot of helpful tools and resources that are well organized, up to date and more than not, free.