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Stock Screen Dream Team

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Stock screeners are priceless time-saving devices, able to identify diamonds in the rough; however, they are far from infallible and should really be used as only one aspect in a stock picker's arsenal.

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7. CNBC

As one would expect from the company that bills itself as "first in business worldwide," CNBC boasts a formidable free stock scanner. Five pre-defined screens, ranging from Small Cap Value to Large Cap growth, are available, along with the ability to customize to your heart's content. The data feed, pulled from Thomson Reuters (NYSE:TRI), is robust and surveys more than 10,000 companies.

Impressively, institutional ownership filters can be amended according to investment preference and company location. And screens may be saved for future use, an invaluable detail and something that is certainly not the case with all complimentary screens. Negatives? It could provide better background explanation of some metrics it uses. Also, annual consensus estimates are surprisingly only available for the current fiscal year. To summarize, the site is more functional and workmanlike than dazzling, but it certainly does the job.

8. InsiderCow

This Boston-based company is somewhat more specialized, but well worth a visit. It tracks insider trading, which a voluminous amount of academic research suggests is often a useful signal for stock sentiment. (To take a recent example, JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) COO Michael Kramer's purchase of 4,400 shares on August 16 at $23.74 each proved to be a bullish buy sign on the equity, now trading north of $26.00.)

The free platform contains realms of historical analysis, data that becomes much more real-time when one upgrades to premium membership. This costs $29.95 per month, with a 14-day free trial again available for first timers. Subscribers can screen by a variety of metrics such as "Companies with the most insider buys/sells in the last seven days." Especially impressive is InsiderCow's claim that it can categorize trades "within 30 seconds on average," which is well ahead of the standard turnaround time mandated by the latest SEC laws.

9. GuruFocus

This eight-year-old site was founded by a Ph.D. with a predilection towards value-based portfolio strategies. It aims to make the investor's job easier by culling from the best ideas of notable market mavens ranging from Carl Icahn to Wilbur Ross. The free tool provides entry to several simple pre-packaged screens, a decade's worth of financial data, and ample insider trading activity. There were technical issues the first time I tried to log on, but it quickly revealed itself to be a decent product. For upscale users, an "All in One" package will set you back $289 per year. It enables the user to drill down on assorted model portfolios and even select the "Most Convicted Ideas." (Hopefully this has nothing to do with prison sentences... but given the number of hedge fund heavies who have ended up behind bars, one never knows.)

Overall an impressive operation, even if the seven-day free trial of its premium product is on the stingy side by industry standards. And, given the spectacular fall from grace experienced by some of its self-appointed sages in 2012 (John Paulson and Michael Dell to name but two), many may be tempted to conclude that there is ultimately no such thing as an expert.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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