A friend of mine once called the internet “an ocean of crap with a thin layer of cream on top”.

The internet has democratized stock research and put the tools of professional investors into the hands of retail guys like you and me. In the past, people would pay exorbitant amounts to be able to get access to information that can now be reached at the click of a button. However, there is also a lot of garbage out there.

Here are the best stock screeners you should be using, measured by ease of use and breadth of screening criteria.

 

StockRover – Best All Round Winner

This web-based screener has pretty much everything you could want, including decile rankings, industry comparisons, and more financial ratios than FinViz. The software also has a bunch of pre-loaded screens, portfolios, and stock “grading systems” that can provide a starting point for your own research. The site has a more sophisticated feel to it than many of its competitors, and it surpasses them in ease of use, making it my go-to screener. The software also includes a pretty useful charting feature with graphical representations of events such as dividends or earnings, or max drawdowns over a specified period. Altogether, there are enough features in this screener to warrant keeping it open on one of your screens for most of the day.

 

FINVIZ – Best All Round Honorable Mention

This screener has about the same selection of fundamental and technical screening tools as StockRover.com, all packaged in an easy to use web-based form. This screener comes in a close second for the wide variety of things it can do, which should satisfy the majority of investors. One of my favorite features is the charts, where trend lines and support/resistance lines are automatically drawn on. However, a few minor gripes prevent this from being the standout winner.

Firstly, if you’d like to pre-load your own portfolio or watch-list, you are limited to 50 stocks. This is no big deal for most investors, but if you have your own larger list of potential stocks that you’d like to screen, you have to set up a number of separate portfolios.

Secondly, you can only filter by absolute values, rather than values relative to peers. If you want to work out which stocks are in the cheapest decile or quartile for their industry on a P/B basis, you have to work it out yourself.

Lastly, and less of an issue for many people, is that they don’t have EV/EBITDA. I understand they can’t accommodate every ratio for every investor, but given the growing consensus of this ratio as one of the best valuation metrics I would have expected to see it in this screener.

 

Google Drive/Google Finance/Yahoo Finance – Best for Customization

Google finance offers one of the simplest stock screeners out there, but when combined with Google Drive the power of the site is properly realized. Prior to using StockRover I made my own stock screener by pulling data from Google Finance and Yahoo finance into a spreadsheet on Google Drive. The data you can pull from Google Finance is fairly rudimentary, but once you have the data in your spreadsheet you can search and manipulate it the same way you would any spreadsheet data. Here is a quick idea of what you can do using Google Finance, and here is an even better version using Yahoo finance.

If you have enough time and desire to build your own screener, I would definitely recommend it, but just be prepared to do a lot of work on it. Currently I use Google Drive for monitoring my trades and maintaining records as the data is so easy to manipulate and filter, but I use standalone sites for normal stock-screening.