How To Start Investing: Scanning For Stocks

How To Start Investing: Scanning For Stocks

The Beginner Trader

How to find stocks

Regardless of the trading or investing strategy you decide to follow, both will need one key, and that is finding the stocks that meet your criteria. To find stocks you are looking for, you will need to use a stock scanner, or maybe more than one scanner to narrow your focus. 

Why do I need a scanner?

There are roughly 2800 companies listes on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Plus the 30 Dow Jones companies, and the hundreds of companies listed on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) – It would be impossible for you to sift through all those companies in any sort of timely manner to find good trading opportunities. 

Every trading stategy will have its own set of criteria to help you define what it is you’re looking for. For example, you may be looking for stocks that have gapped up, or gapped down. You may be looking for stocks that have just closed above their 200ma, or whose 50ma just crossed the 200ma in one direction or another. You may be looking for value stocks, and you need to find out which are trading below book value. There are almost countless ways you can filter stocks to match your criteria, you just need a filter. That’s where scanners come in. 

Below are some free scanners that you can use anytime. Most have paid version which give you access to additional filters. In some cases you may be able to combine the filters of one scanner with another to fill in the gaps the other is missing (or charging for). I use the free versions of these services as I also have access to my brokerages own scanning tools, and charts which offer just as many, if not more features. I just like the ease of these websites, so I also use them for my research.

Screen Shot Of offers a free screening tool that I use mostly for quick pre-market scans. However, it is much more than just a scanner.  You can use it for free with no account. You can use it free, with an account, which gives you access to watchlists and saving screens among other things. Or you can pay for their premiere version which give you additional filters, and features. 

  1. Stock Market News
  2. Market Performance (overall and by sector)
  3. Screener
  4. Watchlists
  5. Charting Software
  6. ETF, Options, Futures, and Currencies
  7. As of the writing of this post ($29.99/mo) – Discounts if you pay yearly. 
Screenshot of offers a lot of the same features as I do like their screener better and feel it’s easier to navigate and use. Like you can use the website for free, without an account. You can create an account to save your screens. Although you can’t create charts without upgrading to the paid version. I like to use Finviz to scan for swing trade opportunities, rocket stocks, and dividend stocks. A cool feature that Finviz has that other websites do not is their heat map (see pic above), which offers a cool visual way to take in how the market is doing on that particular day, broken up by sector.

  1. Stock Market News
  2. Market Performance (overall and by sector)
  3. Screener
  4. Watchlists
  5. Charting Software (paid version)
  6. Futures, FOREX, Crypto
  7. As of the writing of this post ($24.96/mo) – why not $24.95? I don’t know. 

Do you have a favorite scanner?

Do you have a favorite screening tool that I haven’t mentioned? Write in the comment section below and I’ll check it out. It could be a stand alone website, or even your own brokerages scanners, if you have one you like. 

    Investing Q&A of the Day: Float

    Investing Q&A of the Day: Float

    The Beginner Trader

    What is a stock’s “float”?

    A stock’s float refers to the amount of outstanding shares that are available for trade (buy/sell). To determine the amount of outstanding shares a company has, you can do a quick search on Yahoo Finance. THIS LINK will take you the Yahoo Finance “Statistics” page for the Coca Cola Company, stock symbol $KO. If you scroll down to the “Share Statistics” you will find the float. I have highlighted for you in the image below. 


    Highlighting where to find a stock's float.

    The “floating” stock is calculated by subtracting closely-held shares (insiders, major shareholders, employees) and restricted stock that may arise from an IPO.

    Why does float matter?

    Depending on your trading strategy, you will want to narrow your searching by float. In my day trading strategy I look for companies with less than 30-50 million shares. While that sounds like a lot of shares, that would be considered a low float stock. You can see in the example above that $KO has almost 4 billion shares of float, which is very high.

    In my day trading strategy I am looking for stocks that are moving quickly in one direction or another. A stock with less shares will be more volatile than a stock with lots of shares. This is simply due to the dynamic of supply and demand. If a low share, low cost stock has good news in the morning, lots of traders will pour into that stock, and since there isn’t as many outstanding shares, the price of the stock will fluctuate wildy in the first hour of the morning. Riding that volatility is where you can make (or lose) money in a short amount of time. 

    If you’re looking at a stock as more of a long term investment, float may not matter as much in your calculations. You would be looking at other fundamentals like ROIC, PE Ratios, ROA, etc. 

    To learn more about stocks and investing be sure to follow me on twitter @cchapeton.


    October 2020: Investment Update

    October 2020: Investment Update

    My Investment Tracker – October 2020

    From time to time I will be posting updates on my trading accounts. My P&L, current holds, and what I am thinking about moving forward. I am still in the learning process and trying out different strategies hoping to really hone in on 2 to 3 strategies that I can master. I started my IRA with $2800 in December 2018, and my brokerage account with $3500 in early 2020. Not included in the numbers below are my BTC holdings and general savings.

    My IRA (US Dollars)

    Brokerage Account

    Below are the overall results from my past 60 days of trading. I had been cruising at around 90% P&L for a little while, but finally sold off some losing positions to start to bring my numbers back to a more normal range. I am still working on getting rid of losers faster, as you can tell.

    Biggest Gainers (%)
    $TSLA: +97%
    $PLUG: +20.6%
    $GRWG: +15.71%

    Biggest Losers (%)
    $PRVB: -30%
    $SLDB: -22%

    Long terms holds: $TSLA, $NOBL
    Short term holds: $GE, $PLUG
    Speculative play: $RLFTF – my first venture into penny stocks. We’ll see how this goes.

    Lessons learned: Both PRVB and SLDB were dumb holds on my part. They didn’t need to be such big losses in terms of percentage. I think because I am still not playing with huge sums of money, I tend to let the losers go a while thinking “it’s okay, it’s only $x dollars, not too bad” but I have to be more disciplined and remember that every little bit counts. Most of the losing trades came from my brokerage account, which brought me back nearly to where it had started. 

    Always do your own investment research. My website is not meant to be investment advice. It’s just a way for me to track and keep accountable as well as to share my knowledge and experience. 

    60 Day Results - All Accounts