Did you know that only about 29% of Canadians have stocks in their TFSA? The situation is even more dismal for the RRSP (22%). Apart from cash, mutual funds are the primary asset residing in the tax-deferred accounts of millions of Canadians.
One simple explanation is that relatively fewer investors manage their own investment portfolios, even though it has gotten significantly easier nowadays. Thanks mostly to tons of free investment advice, commission-free trading, affordable and intuitive investment platforms, and research tools like stock screeners.
If you like to direct your own trades and manage your own portfolio of TSX stocks, you need to be familiar with the best stock screeners Canada.
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Stock Screener: What It Is And How It Helps
Whenever we search for something on Google or in a database, or even on our computer, we have options to “filter” our search. We can set specific time periods, type of file, and a number of other filters to narrow down our list of results that best meet our expectations and what we were looking for in the first place.
This is basically what a stock screener does for stocks. If you have set criteria for what kind of stocks you want to look for (undervalued stocks, growth stocks, long-term holdings, high-yield stocks, etc.), a screener helps you find the stocks that fit that criteria.
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.
Still, it’s important to understand that a stock screener is not a tool that helps you learn the basics of investments and the many metrics you need to understand to analyze stocks; it’s a tool that lets you apply that knowledge.
Best Stock Screeners 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 straight forward as screeners get and still offer 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 straight forward as 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 fore-front of financial information and news for a very long time, and its screener is also among the best stock screeners 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. And 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 past-five year’s income growth or dividend growth. Additional metrics include ESG metrics and scores, which is a boon for the 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 colored 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 is 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 want 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 the 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 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 a 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 some long-term metrics. The lack of technical metrics might be annoying for investors who use them primarily to screen for their favorite 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, the 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
My two favourite ways to buy stocks in Canada are the following:
- Questrade – Canada’s leading discount broker, I use Questrade to trade most of my stocks. It has a desktop and mobile trading platform. It will cost between $4.95-$9.99 per stock trade in commissions. With this special offer, you can get $50 of commission-free stock trades here.
- Wealthsimple Trade – Better known as a robo-advisor, Wealthsimple has now released this fantastic trading platform that now comes in both desktop and mobile versions. All Canadian stock and ETF trades are commission-free. Get a $10 signup bonus when you sign up here.
We hope this list of best stock screeners in Canada would 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.