At any given moment, thousands of companies around the world trade publicly.
For investors looking to pick individual stocks, that raises a crucial question: How do you choose which stocks to buy?
While many investors choose to simply buy index funds as an easy way to “invest in the market” and likely earn average historical stock market returns, others aim to beat the market by picking individual stocks.
They may simply look to day trade, darting in and out of the market for quick returns. Or they may seek to buy and hold individual stocks for long-term gains and dividends.
You own shares of Apple, Amazon, Tesla. Why not Banksy or Andy Warhol? Their works’ value doesn’t rise and fall with the stock market. And they’re a lot cooler than Jeff Bezos.
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That’s where stock screeners come in handy.
The Best Stock Screeners
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with screening stocks?
Try the following stock screeners, and for the services that charge money, keep an eye on their free trial policies before committing long term.
Best Overall: Seeking Alpha Premium
Seeking Alpha Premium is trusted by seasoned buy-and-hold investors, day traders, and market analysts alike. That’s due in part to its best-in-class stock screeners.
As a Seeking Alpha user, you have access to around two dozen proprietary Seeking Alpha screeners, including:
- Top Growth Stocks
- Top Yield Monsters
- Most Shorted Stocks
- Top Stocks by Quant (all stocks across the quant universe, ranked by quant score)
- Sector-specific top stocks lists like Top Technology Stocks and Top Healthcare Stocks
Or, if you prefer, you can build your own Seeking Alpha screener using the criteria most important to your investment thesis, style, and objectives.
And Seeking Alpha Premium offers far more than an endlessly customizable stock screener. It’s a comprehensive market intelligence suite built to make you better at what you love: investing.
For an annual plan at $19.99 per month — a savings of $120 per year versus monthly billing — Seeking Alpha Premium gives you these unbeatable features and more:
- Unlimited access to premium content from Seeking Alpha’s expert contributors
- Key metrics like Seeking Alpha Author Ratings and Author Performance
- Proprietary quant ratings
- Unlimited earnings call audio
- Unlimited earnings call transcripts
- Information-rich article sidebars with key data, charts, and ratings
- Investment idea performance tracking
Sign up for a three-year subscription and save even more, at a rate of $14.99 per month.
For more information about Seeking Alpha, check out our Seeking Alpha review.
Best Free Stock Screener: Zacks
The Nasdaq stock screener is now powered by Zacks, which offers a substantial set of free stock screening tools. In fact, it comes with more filters than Finviz (another great stock screener — more on them later).
Zacks particularly shines by letting you enter a custom value or range for its screening filters rather than selecting from a drop-down list of preset ranges. That gives you far more precision in your screening results.
Additionally, Zacks offers more earnings-per-share (EPS) search criteria than most. For example, you can delve into EPS surprise percentages, including the last EPS surprise, previous EPS surprises, and the average EPS surprise (from the previous four quarters).
You can also save search settings and export results to a spreadsheet for further parsing and analysis.
Zacks also provides multiple screening criteria for analyst ratings, including upgrades, downgrades, or specific rating changes. Unfortunately, this feature and many others require a premium account to use.
Many of Zacks’ most interesting and flexible features, such as preset screening criteria based on formulas used by famous investors, require payment. Premium accounts cost $249 annually, and they offer several more expensive services as well.
For more information, check out our Zacks Trade review. And while you’re at it, consider signing up for Zack’s free financial newsletter.
Best Free Brokerage for Screening Tools: TD Ameritrade
Unlike Vanguard, which is a favorite among long-term buy-and-hold investors, TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage account built and designed around day trading.
Toward that end, it offers no fewer than six platforms. Its thinkorswim platform in particular combines flexible data analysis with fast, easy trading.
It doesn’t hurt that TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge any commissions on trades, either. It was among the first online brokerages to go commission-free.
Embedded in its platforms lies a wealth of free tools, including its Stock Hacker tool for both filtering and real-time scanning. For instance, you can set up scans for technical patterns like channels, wedges, and flags and then immediately act on them by buying within the platform.
All for free. It’s especially notable that it lets you practice trading with fake money with its paperMoney feature. But you do have to open a brokerage account with them to access these tools.
For more information, check out our TD Ameritrade review.
Best for Day Trading & AI: Trade Ideas
Limited Time Offer: Save 20% off a new Trade Ideas monthly or annual subscription when you use coupon code TESTDRIVESALE.
For real-time scanning and screening, it’s hard to beat Trade Ideas.
The platform is exceptionally fast, with its data centers strategically located near major stock exchanges. It also provides a wealth of preset scans, which you can customize and combine with your own unique criteria.
For convenient, direct trading from the platform, you can connect it with several investment brokerages. You can also backtest algorithm ideas for investing and trading to see how they would have performed in the past.
Trade Ideas sets itself apart with its artificial intelligence. Its AI tool, named Holly, uses technical, fundamental, and social data to scan thousands of trading opportunities and alert you when it finds one with strong upside potential. That helps you find opportunities you would never have otherwise noticed.
Trade Ideas only works with U.S. and Canadian stock exchanges. Although the service offers a free demo, most features require a premium account. And it’s not cheap, either: plans start at $84 per month and cost as much as $167 a month.
Read our Trade Ideas review for more information about this powerful trading software.
Best for Swing Trading: Benzinga Pro
Benzinga Pro offers all the usual trappings: real-time data and news alerts, plenty of predefined stock screeners (including a dividend stock screener), integrated charting, sentiment indicators, and a real-time stock scanner.
Arguably its most interesting feature is its Audio Squawk feature. When relevant market news hits, it doesn’t wait for you to see it — it announces it to you over audio. If you have this feature turned on, of course.
Benzinga has a reputation for getting financial news to you faster than competitors. In fact, it offers an entire news feed called WIIM: Why Is It Moving? The feed helps you understand the cause behind wild price swings for companies or sectors.
Its customizable calendar suite also helps you track the timing of important news, so you never fall behind the eight-ball.
Like many of its competitors, Benzinga offers a freemium model. There’s a limited free account, then several Pro pricing tiers ranging from $27 all the way to $347 per month. Yikes. But that latter price point is for options traders and includes mentoring and advanced algorithm trading models, among other perks.
Read more in our Benzinga Pro review.
Best for Buy-and-Hold Investors: Stock Rover
Another outstanding option, Stock Rover excels at U.S. and Canadian stock screening.
The online software offers over 150 screening filters and makes it just as easy to screen exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as stocks and mutual funds. You can create complex equations, combining multiple filters with if-then logic to fine-tune your results.
Stock Rover also provides robust scanning features, with its data, watchlists, and filters updating every minute if you like.
Stock Rover works particularly well for long-term buy-and-hold investors. It can integrate with your brokerage account, including most major brokers, such as Vanguard, Charles Schwab, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade.
Once integrated, it offers more robust reporting, portfolio rebalancing recommendations, correlation testing for your asset allocation, and portfolio analysis.
The Stock Rover rating system creates succinct feedback for you to review. On a scale from 1 to 100, it displays several categories of rating scores for each security: overall, growth, valuation, efficiency, financial strength, dividends, and momentum.
Stock Rover serves day traders less well. Compared to its 150-plus financial indicators, it only offers nine technical indicators in its screener. It better serves value and income investors.
In a nod to Warren Buffett’s emphasis on fundamental analysis, it even comes with a “Buffettology” screener preset to find companies with a strong margin of safety and fair value indicators.
Like many others, Stock Rover operates on a freemium model. Its free account option works well to help you get started, but for full functionality you must pay for a premium account. Fortunately, they start at only $7.99 per month, and the most expensive is $27.99 per month.
Best for Beginners (and for Visualization): FINVIZ
As a stock screener, Finviz (a portmanteau of “financial” and “visualizations”) is largely free.
Its Finviz Elite plan adds a real-time stock scanner, aftermarket data, correlation data between stocks, and backtests, which apply a prospective trading or investing strategy to the past to see how it would have performed. The plan costs $39.50 per month, discounted to $24.96 if you pay annually.
But its free plan requires no sign-up and includes a broad range of screening filters. The only real downside is a delay in updating the data, which impacts day traders more than buy-and-hold investors. The latter can use Finviz after markets close.
With its intuitive, simple online platform, Finviz makes a particularly easy starting point for new traders and investors. Its selection of 29 fundamental filters and 17 technical criteria are enough to help you learn the ropes but not too many to overwhelm.
Historically, Finviz did not allow users to select multiple options within the same filter field simultaneously. For example, you couldn’t select two economic sectors — you could either select one or all but not a specific few. Finviz has since rectified this for its Elite subscription members, adding more flexibility to the screening platform.
Consider Finviz a perfect platform for learning on, and for learning how to use visual charts. As you become more sophisticated, you can explore more advanced options as needed.
Best for Global Investors: TradingView
Although slightly overwhelming for new traders and investors, TradingView offers an incredibly flexible screening platform at a low or no cost.
You can start screening stocks and ETFs with no sign-up required and familiarize yourself with the many options available. With over 150 fundamental and technical filters, you can sort stocks with precision. And if you want to only look at stocks or ETFs, you can switch easily between the two.
One area where TradingView excels is the breadth of securities and investments it includes.
To begin with, it includes international stocks and funds from all over the globe, letting you compare American and foreign stocks with the same set of tools. Beyond international securities, it also provides access to cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange (forex) currency comparisons.
TradingView also offers a simple rating system for securities, indicating whether it’s a “buy,” “sell,” “strong buy,” or “strong sell.”
One particularly neat trick up TradingView’s sleeve is comparing broader economic indicators with company-level data. For example, you can compare a company’s performance with the national unemployment rate over time to look for patterns.
TradingView operates on a freemium model, with both free and premium options. The free version includes ads but also allows most premium functionality.
To access the real-time scanner feature and export data, you need a paid subscription. However, the platform offers a 30-day free trial, and premium accounts start around $15 per month.
Best Desktop Software & Charting: TC2000
For nearly 30 years, TC2000 has excelled at stock screening and scanning.
It offers a broad range of fundamental and technical screening criteria. But TC2000 also allows you to create your own custom screening criteria, which you can then layer on top of existing stock charts. The ability to layer customized data into visual charts makes its charting unsurpassed in the stock screener field.
TC2000 also lets you customize alerts better than most screeners to let you know in real time when your custom combination aligns just right. Combine that with fast real-time scanning, and it makes for an outstanding platform for day traders.
Unfortunately, TC2000 only works with American and Canadian stock markets. It comes as downloaded and installed software, and some users complain its web-based platform fails to live up to the installed version.
Like other screeners, TC2000 offers both a free version and premium options, with the latter starting at around $10 per month.
Note: TC2000 bought FreeStockCharts.com and integrated its features as part of its free service, if you’ve ever used that site before.
Best Portfolio Tracking: Atom Finance
Atom Finance aims to deliver institutional-level power with retail-level usability. And it largely succeeds.
You can connect your other brokerage accounts to your Atom account. That creates a bird’s-eye view of your entire investment portfolio — similar to Mint or Personal Capital — so you can see your full asset allocation and suggestions for where to diversify.
But it doesn’t stop there. Advanced stock screening tools help you research individual stocks and broader trends starting with real-time stock quotes and institution-grade financial news feeds.
Available company data include equity research from all major banks and financial firms, SEC filings and transcripts, analyst forecasts and recommendations, and detailed historical financial data. Atom’s advanced document search lets you search for phrases across multiple news articles, filings, and transcripts to unearth hidden trends and patterns.
All of that combines to create a comprehensive portrait of a company’s performance over time.
Another neat feature is Atom Hubs. Taking the concept of watchlists a step further, hubs let you compare stocks by your metrics of choice, allowing you to choose among dozens of relevant data points. Those comparisons come to life visually through charts and graphs detailing different stocks’ performance.
Your hubs also aggregate relevant news, documents, and events for your selected stocks. You can even share them with other investors to collect feedback.
Those hubs highlight a final strength: their community of investors and chat features. Find chat channels most relevant to your investments and style, and collaborate with other investors for better results.
For $6.99 per month, you can access their Premium features, which include analyst commentary, price change explanations, equity research summaries, and price target updates.
Learn more in our Atom Finance review.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Stock Screeners
Not all stock screeners are created equal. Different screeners excel in different ways, so here’s how we reviewed them.
First and foremost, look for robust screening filters. A stock screener is only as good as its ability to help you find stocks based on precise criteria. A few standard screening filters include:
Many traders start with U.S. stock exchanges and never expand beyond them.
But if you want to trade stocks from all over the world, you need a stock screener that supports more than just U.S. markets. Full stop.
The best stock screeners combine flexibility with ease of use.
Stock screeners should ideally let you narrow your search with exact precision without an overly complex or cumbersome interface. Even beginners should find them intuitive to use.
Speed matters for stock screeners. You need up-to-the-second data to know exactly when to get in and out of a trade.
That goes for financial news as well. The best stock screeners include intuitive, real-time news flash features to keep you posted about market-moving updates.
Most stock screeners charge a fee, so cost becomes a factor. If you’re new to stock screeners, start with free services to familiarize yourself with how they work before shelling out a hefty subscription fee.
Stock Screener FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
With thousands of dollars on the line, you need to know what you’re getting into before you start slinging trades.
Make sure you understand the answers to these questions before choosing a stock screener and trading your hard-earned cash.
What Is a Stock Screener?
Stock screeners help investors narrow down the thousands of stocks available on the market, based on filter criteria.
For example, if you’re looking for high-dividend stocks paying 5% or more each year, you can filter based on dividend yield. Or you can filter by earnings per share, or market cap, or industry, or any of a hundred other characteristics.
The point: to find stocks meeting your specific criteria.
What Should You Look for in a Stock Screener?
Start by looking at the factors listed above: screening filters, markets, usability, timeliness, and pricing.
But only you know your exact needs. There’s no singular perfect stock screener — choose one based on your investing strategy, budget, and personal preferences.
Do Stock Screeners Work?
They do, but with limitations.
Stock screeners are just data filtering tools. You can use them to narrow a list of stocks based on your search criteria, but that doesn’t mean those stocks will earn you money.
Although they can help with technical analysis, they don’t help you gauge more qualitative aspects of a company, such as the experience of their leadership team, their company culture, labor relations, and so forth. Do your own investment research before buying companies, especially if you plan to buy and hold rather than quick stock trading.
Are Stock Screeners Worth the Cost?
It depends on how much trading you do. Full-time stock traders need the best trading tools available on the market, while someone like me who just does a little swing trading with “fun money” can use a basic brokerage trading platform.
And, of course, it depends on the cost. Most of the solutions above offer free membership levels, and some offer premium tools for just a few dollars per month. Others cost hundreds of dollars each month, so you need to understand your own needs and priorities.
How to Choose the Best Stock Screener
Day traders and individual stock pickers need access to more complex data analysis than buy-and-hold index fund investors. To sift through the hundreds of thousands of stocks in the global market, they need outstanding screeners.
Start with a free stock screener option like Finviz or TD Ameritrade if you’re new to the game. As you grow in confidence and expertise, you can try out more robust screening tools like TradingView and Stock Rover.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun trading in the market. But never trade with money you can’t afford to lose. Think of it as gambling, not investing.
Start low and go slow when you start trading with real money rather than pretend dollars.