In the dynamic world of investing, having the right tools at your disposal can be the difference between striking gold and missing out on a potential payday.
As the Canadian stock market continues to evolve, the importance of stock screeners can’t be overstated.
These digital tools filter the stock market based on specific criteria, allowing you to zone in on potential winners while weeding out the less promising options.
But with a plethora of choices out there, how do you determine which screeners are worth your time and effort? Here are our picks for the best stock screeners for Canadian investors.
What is a Stock Screener?
At its core, a stock screener is a digital tool that filters stocks based on user-defined metrics and criteria. Think of it as a sophisticated search engine specifically tailored for the stock market.
There are about 1,500 companies listed on the TSX and about 1600 on the venture exchange, and without a good stock screener, finding the right stock would be akin to finding a needle in a stack of needles. A good screener can cut down your research time considerably.
Instead of scrolling through thousands of stocks manually, you set certain criteria—such as market capitalization, P/E ratio, dividend yield, or sector—and the screener provides a list of stocks that meet those requirements.
How Does a Stock Screener Help?
- Time Efficiency: Gone are the days of painstakingly sifting through endless stock data. A screener rapidly narrows down the list, presenting you with options that align with your investment goals.
- Customization: Whether you’re a value investor hunting for undervalued gems or a growth enthusiast seeking the next big thing, stock screeners can be tailored to your specific needs.
- Informed Decision Making: By filtering out irrelevant stocks, you’re left with a more digestible list, allowing you to conduct deeper research and analysis on potential investments.
- Discovering Hidden Opportunities: Especially for those not always in the loop with every market move, stock screeners can unveil lesser-known stocks that might be the perfect addition to your portfolio.
- Risk Management: By setting criteria that align with your risk tolerance—such as avoiding stocks with high volatility or those in a particular troubled industry—you can better manage and diversify your portfolio
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Stock Screener
Not all stock screeners are created equal. Before committing to one, evaluate various factors to ensure it meets your investment needs.
- Data Accuracy & Updates: Reliable data forms the foundation of any decision-making process in investing. Ensure your chosen screener frequently updates its database, either in real-time or at regular intervals. Delayed or outdated information might lead to suboptimal investment choices.
- User-Friendliness: A stock screener’s interface should be intuitive. Consider factors like layout, speed, responsiveness, and the quality of visual presentations (e.g., charts and graphs). A user-friendly platform can significantly enhance your analysis efficiency.
- Customization: Every investor has a unique strategy. A flexible screener that allows you to set custom parameters or save your specific screening configurations can be a game-changer. This feature ensures you’re examining stocks that closely align with your investment thesis.
- Range of Metrics: A robust screener offers a comprehensive range of metrics — from basic financial data like P/E ratios to advanced technical indicators. This range ensures you have a holistic view of the stocks and can assess them from multiple angles.
- Cost: While free screeners can be enticing, they often come with limitations. Weigh the features offered against your budget. Sometimes, paying a premium can unlock valuable insights that can far outweigh the cost.
- Coverage: Not all screeners cover every stock exchange or security type. Ensure your screener provides information on the Canadian markets you’re interested in, whether it’s the TSX, CSE, or others.
Best Stock Screeners In Canada
Most of the stock screeners that are available on the internet are free, but few screeners also come with a paid version and some extra tools.
1. TMX Stock Screener
The TMX stock screener is offered by the company that owns all the major stock exchanges in the country, i.e., the TMX group. This Toronto-based company owns and operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture Exchange, and the Montreal Exchange.
This is important to note because as the owner and operator of the exchanges, the TMX is likely to present an accurate and comprehensive picture of the underlying stocks, and the quality of the underlying stock data would be relatively pristine and up-to-date.
And when you are using the screener to filter down your desired stocks, you can be reasonably sure that the data is accurate and timely.
But the strongest point in this stock screener’s favor is that it’s perfect for beginners. It’s as straightforward as screeners get and still offers a comprehensive range of metrics that one might need to short-list stocks.
The criteria elements you can use for screening are divided into 14 comprehensive categories that include dividends, growth metrics, and five technical indicators. The range of metrics and indicators might not be well suited for active day-traders, but it’s adequate for retail investors.
Once you have your list of screened stocks, there are 62 inputs, metrics, and ratios that you can use to rank order your selections.
2. Stock Rover
Cost: Paid/Free for first 14 days
In many ways, Stock Rover is quite different from the TMX screener. First of all, it’s paid. It’s not as straightforward as the TMX screener is, and while it does help you screen Canadian stocks, it doesn’t give you access to all Canadian securities.
But the reason it’s high up on the list is that it’s a powerful stock screener. It allows you to create your custom screeners using 554 metrics, including a wider range of technical indicators. But the best part is that you can create custom metrics using the existing ones.
This might seem overwhelming to many novice investors. Still, day traders and relatively active portfolio managers crave these features because it allows them to fine-tune their custom screeners and, by extension, create more meaningful watch lists.
More metrics and the ability to create your own metrics are not just helpful for traders but long-term investors as well. You can create a screener based on your ideal growth and valuation metrics (like stocks with powerful growth potential and histories but are currently undervalued). When one (or a few stocks) manage to pass through your stringent criteria, you can add them to your portfolio.
This is helpful because full-blown market crashes are rare, but industry and sector-wise disruptions are more frequent. And instead of keeping an eye on all sectors, you can create a screener to find your ideal stock.
3. Yahoo Finance Screener
Yahoo Finance has been at the forefront of financial information and news for a very long time, and its screener is also among the best stock screeners in Canada. Yahoo Finance offers almost the full range of Canadian securities, so you don’t have to worry about hidden gems falling through the cracks in your screener.
It’s also very simple and intuitive, and there is a compressive range of filters and metrics you can choose to create your screener. Unlike some other free screeners on this list, Yahoo Finance Screener allows you to set custom ranges for the values of your metrics to fine-tune your search.
One area where the screener lacks a bit is the dividend, where it only offers three metrics. It also doesn’t have filters for the past five years’ income growth or dividend growth. Additional metrics include ESG metrics and scores, which is a boon for socially conscious and responsible investors.
Like most others on this list, it allows you to save your individual screeners for later use. It also offers a cool way to get an overview of the results (visually) by creating a heat map. The securities appear as squire boxes, with sizes proportional to their market cap, and they are coloured on a scale of red to green, based on a one-day percentage change.
4. Bar Chart
Difficulty: Very easy
The Bar Chart is a free screener that comes with a paid version as well. It allows you to screen securities, mutual funds, ETFs, and options from five major markets, including Canada. The screener is easy to use for beginners, especially if you know the names of the metrics you need to find, because the categorization takes some time to get used to.
The screener also allows you to split your results based on the particular exchange security are trading on, so you may choose to ignore (or include) venture capital securities.
The range of technical analysis indicators and metrics is relatively more extensive, and you also have options to screen your results based on previous day prices. This makes it a good research tool for financial writers as well.
The company also allows you to add your own opinions and buy and hold signals to your screener. If you trust the company’s judgment and call on Canadian securities, it can make your screeners even more efficient.
The premium version of Bar Chart is costly, but it comes with many options and features that traders might find useful. However, it might not be worth the additional cost for most retail investors (unless you desperately want the ads to go away).
5. Investing.com Screener
Investing.com is another simple online screener that offers you access to the full range of Canadian securities, and the screener allows you to split your results based on sectors and industries as well. This can be helpful if you are looking for stocks only within a certain industry or if you want to diversify your investment portfolio (sector-wise) and want top security from every sector in your portfolio.
It has a decent range of metrics to choose from, including 12 technical indicators, but their ranges don’t extend past 14 days.
There are long-term metrics that help investors screen stocks for their past performance, especially for the last five years. Another great filter that comes with the investing.com screener is for splitting different types of equities.
So you can only see ordinary shares, preferred shares, or some other type of equity. Another amazing feature is the slider bar for range. For metrics that require you to put a low and a high range, you can either type in the numbers or use a slider to adjust your low or high range. The slider also comes with a graphical indication of where most of the securities are concentrated on the full scale.
6. Globe And Mail
Globe and Mail can be considered a rudimentary version of the Bar Chart. It follows almost the same pattern for filters, primarily because Globe and Mail use Bar Charts tech for their screener.
Simplicity and the presence of long-term metrics (like five-year dividend growth) are perhaps the two strong features of this screener because otherwise, its free version is quite limited, especially compared to most other free screeners on this list.
Though you can use it without signing in, that’s the same as the TMX screener, and the choice of metrics there is relatively extensive. There are no technical metrics whatsoever, though it also has separate fund and ETF screeners.
The stock screener also allows you to create watch lists, but if you are limited by the metrics offered in the free version of the screener, you might not be able to create very helpful watch lists. There are only about 66 metrics you can screen for, divided into six categories.
That includes annual dividend yield and all the other basic and long-term metrics. The lack of technical metrics might be annoying for investors who use them primarily to screen for their favourite stocks.
Finviz is another screener that has both a free and a paid version (called Elite). It’s a powerful screener with an extensive range of metrics, especially when it comes to technical indicators.
The interface is quite different from most other screeners, and you can tweak your metrics relatively merely because of its interface. However, it might take some getting used to, especially for investors who are habitual users of other free screeners. Finviz falls short as a free stock screener in two areas.
One is its severely limited range of Canadian stocks. At the time of writing this, Finviz only displayed 191 Canadian securities. The second limitation is that you can’t set custom ranges for your metrics in the free version.
But if you are willing to look past these issues, Finviz is worth a try. It offers values for metrics like PEG, which you can’t find on many other screeners. The screener also keeps refreshing every three minutes (you can turn it off), which can be helpful for traders.
You can customize your screener result lists quite extensively. But the lack of the full range of Canadian stocks would mean that you might be missing out on some amazing companies that tend to fly under the radar.
How to Buy Stocks in Canada
The cheapest way to buy stocks is from discount brokers. My top choices in Canada are:
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To learn more, check out my full breakdown of the best trading platforms in Canada here.
We hope this list of the best stock screeners in Canada will come in handy if you ever try to create and manage your own investment portfolio. A screener can be only as potent as your investment knowledge, so keep learning. With adequate knowledge and the right screener, you can cut your stock research time to a mere fraction.