Getting Started with Screeners: How to Find Potential Investment Ideas

Getting Started with Screeners: How to Find Potential Investment Ideas

Key Takeaways

    The screener tool allows investors to find potential investment ideas by filtering through stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs

    Screeners can help investors focus on equities that meet their investing strategy and criteria

Selecting a good stock or mutual fund to invest in isn’t always easy. Oftentimes, the selection process can be overwhelming for new investors because of the sheer volume of companies available. Even seasoned investors looking for a new stock to potentially invest in can find it difficult to discover companies that meet their investment criteria and strategy. In the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq alone, there are around 6,000 companies that are publicly listed in the United States. So how do investors sort through the large number of stocks?

One helpful tool available to TD Ameritrade clients is the screener tool, which allows investors to filter through stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs, using specific criteria they’ve selected. Screeners are especially helpful for investors when they have an idea of the type of company they’d like to invest in but need help narrowing down their choices.

Getting Started with Screeners

First, log in to your account at, and then go to Research & Ideas > Screeners. You’ll notice you can choose from a selection of predefined screens under the Stock, Options, Mutual Funds, and ETFs tabs, or you can create your own custom screen using criteria you select from an extensive menu of filters. 

Creating a Custom Screen

To create a custom screen, select the Create a Screen tab at the top of the page for the stock, option, mutual fund, or ETF you’d like to filter through. Next, select the criteria you want to use by checking the relevant boxes on left column. You have a lot of filters to choose from such as technicals, fundamentals, and ratings, which can help narrow down your matches. Once you’ve selected your criteria, the column on the right will display the number of matches based on the particular filters you’ve selected for your screener.

Are you looking to invest in a stock in a particular industry? Say you’re looking for some semiconductor stocks that trade on the Nasdaq to add to your list of potential investment opportunities. To find your matches, under the stock screener, select the Exchange and Sector, Industry & Sub-Industry boxes on the left, then select Nasdaq under the Exchange listing. Next, select Information Technology > Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment > Semiconductors under the Sector, Industry & Sub-Industry listing. To view all the matches under the filters you’ve selected, select view matches (see figure 1).

Getting Started with Screeners: How to Find Potential Investment Ideas

FIGURE 1: STOCK SCREENER. To create a custom stock screener, select the criteria you’d like to use by checking the relevant boxes from the list on the left. Source: TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only.

Similarly, you can use the mutual funds screener to drill down to funds by specific category. For example, if you check the Morningstar Category filter, you’ll see a menu that lets you narrow the list down to specific types of funds such as Financial (see figure 2).

Getting Started with Screeners: How to Find Potential Investment Ideas

FIGURE 2: MUTUAL FUNDS CUSTOM SCREEN. Use the mutual funds screener to drill down to funds by specific category. Source: TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. 

Finding Investment Ideas with Screeners

Your time is valuable. And you don’t likely have the time or the patience to sort through thousands of stocks. Thankfully, with the screener tool, you don’t have to. The screener gives you an objective list of securities, based solely on the criteria you’ve selected, in a matter of seconds. You can use this information in several ways:

    RESEARCH: Compare similar securities directly from your screen. Hover over a ticker symbol to see a chart of the stock or select the symbol to learn more about the company on the Stock Profile page.SAVE FOR LATER: Select the Save screen button to save the criteria you selected, allowing you to come back later and search for the same type of securities again (see figure 3).WATCH LIST: Create a watch list by selecting the Add to watch list button that lets you track the securities over time.

Getting Started with Screeners: How to Find Potential Investment Ideas

FIGURE 3: SCREENERS FOR FUTURE USE. Once you’ve created your custom screen, you can save your screen for future use or add it your your watch list. Source: TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only.

Do Your Homework

Screeners are a great tool for investors to begin their research on a particular equity, but remember, this is only the first step in the research process. Investors should take the time to fully research the equity they’re investing in before making any decisions. 

Carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. A prospectus, obtained by calling 800-669-3900, contains this and other important information about an investment company. Read carefully before investing.

Mutual funds, closed-end funds and exchange traded funds are subject to market, exchange rate, political, credit, interest rate and prepayment risks, which vary depending on the type of mutual fund.

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