Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Screeners: Your First Line Of Review

Screeners are tools, usually found online, to assist the investor in filtering and sifting through the huge number of financial instruments using parameters, such as financial ratios, regions/countries, sectors/industry, etc. It is a very handy tool to start off looking for potential securities to invest in.

There are a number of screeners available on the internet. Some are free of charge, some are paid services, while others are somewhere in-between (i.e. getting basic information for free but require payment if you want to know more). The main difference between paid and free screeners is that the former tends to have almost all of the information and/or more in-depth parameters available within their one-stop platform (so-called data or information aggregation), with a majority of them providing graphics for data visualization. While one may argue that we are in the age of Googling and such data can be easily obtained without paying for it, the compromise would be the time spent in looking for them, as compared to giving a fee to save time and effort in finding and calculating the required figures.


Most screeners have one thing in common: they have an interactive interface for the investor to input and/or select the parameters and criteria. After these are keyed in, a list of counters which fit the bill will be displayed. Not all screeners, however, are built equal. There are those which are country specific, and there are those that cover only certain financial instruments, especially exchange traded funds (ETFs). Some screeners tried to be jack-of-all-trades and cover everything but lost out to certain niche screeners that have more coverage and relevance.


Here is a list of (free) screeners that I usually use in my research on equity, REIT and ETF securities. Bear in mind there are other good screeners, too, so this list is not exhaustive:


  • Yahoo Finance. My first go-to site to view ratios and summaries, Yahoo Finance has an extensive equity screener that covers a number of parameters (from the simple price-to-book ratio to the Altman Z Score) which I think is more than sufficient for a basic overview. They have other screeners for mutual funds, futures and ETFs, though for the latter I would prefer to use others (see below). Look out for “Screeners” in the main page heading.
  • SGX. Our very own Singapore Exchange has screeners for stocks, ETFs and structured warrants (from the main page header, Securities > Prices & Screeners) that are listed in itself.
  • Stockscafe. Stockscafe is a one-man, homegrown site and I used it to track Bob’s Bedokian Portfolio. It contains a screener that covers the United States, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong markets. The screener is available for use once you sign up a free account with Stockscafe.
  • ETF.com and ETFDB.com. For ETFs that are primarily listed in the United States, I would use either of these two sites to do my screening. In my opinion these screeners are more comprehensive than the ones mentioned above since they focus solely on ETFs, and their screeners included expense ratios, asset classes, number of holdings, etc. For ETF.com the screener is under ETF Tools & Data > ETF Screener & Database header while for ETFDB.com, the screener is located under Tools > ETF Screener header.
  • REITData and REIT Oracle. Though technically they are not screeners, they instead provide a one-look-can-see-all list of the locally listed REITs in a table form, and you could sort the various headers like gearing and yield in ascending or descending order to make comparisons. Furthermore, REIT Oracle provide information on other REITs listed in Malaysia and Thailand. For REITData, it also contains information on non-REIT trusts such as NetLink and Keppel Infrastructure Trust. 


Caveat And Conclusion


The use of screeners is just one part of your overall fundamental analysis process and it should not be the only determinant in your transaction decision. Further research and analysis are necessary such as looking deeper at the ratios, the sector and industry, the overall economic conditions, and geopolitical and natural factors at play. Sometimes different screeners may produce different numbers on the same stock/ETF/REIT, due to the source of the data and/or the basis of the ratio calculations, therefore warranting a more careful review.


Cheers and happy screening!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Inside The Bedokian’s Portfolio: iShares Global Clean Energy ETF

Inside The Bedokian’s Portfolio is an intermittent series where I will reveal what is actually inside our investment portfolio, one company/bond/REIT/ETF at a time. In each post I will talk a bit about the counter, why I had selected it and what lies ahead in the future.

Today, I shall introduce a sector-specific ETF and that is the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ticker: ICLN).


The Green Revolution


I had identified alternative energy as one of the sectors to go into back in Dec 2017 (here) after analysing the then-trends and formulating a series of educated guesses, or “guesstimates” as I liked to call them. Going green is nothing new as some organisations and activists around the world had been promulgating it for decades, but this movement had gained some serious momentum in the recent years.


During my “next big thing” analysis, there were some catalysts that prompted me to look in this direction; one of which was the increased awareness of climate change amongst the global population; another was the trend of electric vehicles that is going to be in the spotlight for the next decade; and yet another was the push for carbon-neutrality in some countries and organisations. Then of course later on, we had the famous “How dare you” speech by Greta Thunberg in Sep 2019.




There are a number of green ETFs available (not locally listed, though. You need to look for them in the U.S. markets), ranging from geographically focused (e.g. KGRN which is on China), energy type focused (e.g. TAN which is on solar power) to carbon focused (e.g. ECLN which tracks companies that seek or having a positive carbon impact). I had selected ICLN namely for three reasons:


  • It has a broad focus that includes manufacturers and providers related to alternative energy; covers different types of energy sources (wind, solar, fuel cells, etc.); and spanning across different countries (China, New Zealand, United States, etc.).
  • It has one of the lowest expense ratios (0.46%).
  • Its asset-under-management (AUM) is about USD 1.5 billion, which is so far the largest alternative energy ETF to date. An ETF with a large AUM tends to have higher trading volume and thus higher liquidity, which makes it easier to transact. An ETF with a high AUM also has economies of scale to reduce expenses, thus keeping the expense ratio low.


The Way Forward


The impetus to go green has never been this accelerated recently as compared to past instances. The awareness of climate change is quite widespread, probably thanks to social media platforms (read: technology sector) that enable messages to be shared far and wide. Some traditional oil companies such as Shell are moving into low-carbon or green energy, signaling a potential change of paradigm amongst the oil players.


Though the ICLN investment had almost hit the one-bagger mark (USD 19.08 as at 2 Oct 2020), it made up only about 1% of our portfolio. There is still some headway in the green/alternative energy sector, so I might be expanding this toehold by averaging up on this ETF in the near future.




Bought ICLN at: 

USD 9.58, January 2018