In the current article, we aim to highlight the necessity of shortlisting a few companies for detailed analysis, out of the thousands of companies available to an investor. We would also learn about various tools, which an investor can use for shortlisting these companies.
Why Shortlisting of Companies is Necessary?
At April 18, 2020, there are 8,484 stocks listed on Bombay Stock Exchange. Each of these stocks represents a company running a unique business. The business of each of these companies is different from all the other companies whether they are from the same or different industries.
For example, a pharmaceutical company will have a business entirely different from a telecom company. Moreover, within the pharmaceutical companies, a company selling its products in the Indian market will have a very different business from another company, which sells its products in overseas markets. Among pharmaceutical companies, which focus on overseas markets, a company, which sells its products in US & other developed countries will have a different business than the company, which sells its products in Africa & other developing countries. Therefore, investing in any company will expose an investor to a business that would be very different from investing in any other company.
Therefore, investing in stocks of one company will produce very different results than investing in stocks of any other company. Therefore, it is suggested that an investor must be very particular about choosing the companies in which she invests her hard-earned money.
An investor should analyze a company in detail before adding it to her portfolio. However, it is very difficult for any investor to analyze all the companies available for investment. Their number stands at 8,484 today and is expected to increase in future. Therefore, every investor should use a process for filtering out all the companies that do not meet her requirements. She should then focus on the remaining companies to find out the companies, which she feels are the best. Such companies will prove to be great investment opportunities for her.
The process of shortlisting companies is necessary so that an investor can focus her limited time and effort on a few targeted companies. Shortlisting companies before analysis helps an investor get the maximum benefit out of her effort.
Different methods for shortlisting companies for detailed analysis:
There are many different methods used by investors to shortlist companies for analysis. Some of the common methods are described below:
- Magazines: There are many magazines that are focused on stock markets e.g. Dalal Street, Capital Markets etc. These magazines regularly publish many articles with a basic analysis of companies. If an investor reads these magazines regularly, she can select the companies mentioned in these magazines, which she likes, for detailed analysis. However, an investor should not invest in any company just because it is recommended by these magazines. These magazines should serve merely as a source to select stocks for detailed analysis. The final decision should always be based on the investor’s own analysis.
- Newspapers: Similar to magazines, many newspapers have business sections and publish stories about different companies. If an investor likes any company based on a news article, she should analyze it further in detail, before making an investment decision.
- Television: Many TV channels have special programs, which give coverage to growing companies. Such programs present a good analysis of the company’s history, its brands, its customers etc. They also feature interviews with the company’s management. These programs can be a good source of information for selecting companies for detailed analysis.
However, all these methods, which use mainstream media to shortlist companies have a limitation. Mainstream media usually covers those companies, which are famous and the market has already recognized the value of their stocks. Therefore, stocks of such companies usually sell at a premium and potential for the future price increase is generally limited.
Therefore, many investors try to use sources where they can find companies, which have the potential for high growth in their business and whose stocks are not yet recognized by the markets. Some of such methods are mentioned below:
- Local Marketplace: Many investors try to find companies suitable for investment by focusing on bestselling products in the local markets. They visit malls, shops etc. to find out about the most selling products and the shops that sell them. One of the successful investors, Peter Lynch, has written that he had taken many investment ideas by observing the products bought by his wife and children. If an investor decides to follow this approach, she should find out whether the companies, which make the highly demanded products, are available for investment on any stock exchange. If yes, then she should analyze these companies in detail. This approach is best for identifying companies in the consumer goods industries.
- Online Stock Screeners: Stock screeners are tools provided by different websites, which allow investors to search for companies that meet their investment criteria. Once an investor mentions her stock-picking criteria, these websites show her a list of companies meeting her search criteria. Then, the investor can analyze these companies further. An investor should select her stock-picking criteria based on the investment approach that she finds suitable to her as detailed in part 2 of this series.
My Method of shortlisting companies for detailed analysis
I follow a bottom-up fundamental analysis approach in which I look for high growth companies available at attractive stock prices. After reading books of successful investors and based on personal experience in stock investing, I have prepared a list of stock-picking criteria. These criteria can be used with the stock screening tools of different websites. These criteria help me in shortlisting companies for detailed analysis, which are growing fast but are yet to become famous.
I am confident that at the end of this series of articles “Selecting Top Stocks to Buy”, all the readers would be able to make their own stock-picking criteria, which would help them select stocks based on their stock-picking approach. Such criteria would reflect the personal approach of every reader and will help her proceed on her stock investing journey.
Online Stock Screeners available to Investors:
Once an investor has formed her stock-picking criteria, all she needs is a tool for searching companies based on these criteria. Now a day, there are many websites, which offer online tools to investors for shortlisting companies based on their criteria. These websites are paid as well as free ones:
- Paid Websites: E.g. CMIE, Capitaline. These paid websites charge an annual fee of a few lakh rupees for providing their services.
- Free Websites: E.g. screener.in, equitymaster.com, askkuber.com
Paid websites offer more features than the free websites. However, an investor should consider paid websites only if she has a very large portfolio. Free websites are good enough to meet the analysis requirements of an individual investor. I believe that if an investor’s portfolio is smaller than INR 10 cr, then she should not use paid websites, as annual charges of paid websites would be a significant cost to her portfolio.
My favourite online stock screening tool is www.screener.in. It is very simple to use the website. It has very elaborate instructions for helping the first time uses.
I have given below a few screenshots demonstrating the step-by-step approach for using its stock screener. I have used a sample set of stock picking criteria for this demonstration.
In the above screen, I have searched for companies where:
- Sales have grown by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 10% for the last 10 years.
- Net profit has grown by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 10% for the last 10 years.
- Debt to Equity ratio is less than 1 and
- Cash generated from operating activities is positive
Once an investor clicks on “Run this screen”, the website will provide her with a list of companies whose stocks meet the criteria specified above.
One can see that there are 152 companies out of the total more than 8,484 companies, which meet the sample shortlisting criteria. An investor would notice that 152 companies are still a large number and it would be very time consuming to analyse these companies in detail. Therefore, an investor can further tighten her screening parameters to reduce the size of the filtered list. For example, increase the sales growth parameter to 15% and net profit growth parameter to 30%:
- Sales have grown by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 15% for the last 10 years.
- Net profit has grown by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 30% for the last 10 years.
- Debt to Equity ratio is less than 1 and
- Cash generated from operating activities is positive
An investor would now notice that on tightening the criteria, the number of filtered stocks has come down to 34, which is a manageable number of stocks to start the analysis.
Now an investor can focus her time & effort on analysis of these 34 companies and ignore the balance 8,450 companies.
Whenever an investor believes that her search criteria are not giving her a reasonable number of filtered stocks, then she should tweak her criteria. If the number of stocks on the initial search is very high, like in the above example, then she may tighten the parameters. On the contrary, if the list of filtered stocks on the initial search is very low, then she may relax the parameters.
The aim of the screening process as a starting point of investor’s analysis process is to provide a short and manageable list of companies where the investor will do the detailed analysis.
*Please note that the screening process is to shortlist stocks for further detailed analysis. The screening process is not to simply pick up stocks from the list and invest money straightaway.
An investor can now click on each company’s name to find out more details about each company in the search results.
Profit & Loss details for the last 10 years:
Balance Sheet details for the last 10 years:
Cash flows details for the last 10 years:
Thus, we can see that now a day, some very useful tools for information on stocks & companies are available to every investor. Stock selection is no longer a field reserved for only a few big investors. Any common investor, including you and me, can search for great companies and analyze them in detail.
In the current era, to become a successful investor, all we need is the right approach towards stock investing, some amount of hard work and an internet connection!
Answers to Investors’ Queries
CAGR or “year on year” growth rates
Hello, doc sir. One question comes in my mind after reading your article about the analysis of stocks, while looking sales growth or NPM, you are saying that one should look at CAGR of last 7 to 10 years. So, I want to ask whether I have to look year by year like if I look sales growth year by year then it’s not above 15 % in all the years, which is your criteria but the CAGR of sales growth is 25%.
So what should we see, Sir? Each year or only CAGR?
Similarly, if we see NPM, then the CAGR might be there above 8%, however, year on year, it might be sometimes 3 % and sometimes 4%. Please clarify. Thanks a lot.
I am a small investor and a new learner. Nowadays, I am reading your blog sir and some queries have come to my mind so please don’t mind to help me to the learning process. thanks.
Thanks for writing to me!
Year on year performance is expected to vary significantly as the business environment keeps on changing year on year. Therefore, an investor should primarily focus on CAGR, however, she should also take care that the entire CAGR should not be because of abnormal growth in any one or two years.
Hope it clarifies your queries!
All the best for your investing journey!
Dr. Vijay Malik
Using Sales Growth as a Screening / Shortlisting Criteria
I have attended your workshop in Mumbai and I must say it was one of the best class I have ever attended.
I have many doubt sir, which I encountered after returning home. I will send you my query one by one.
Right now, my doubt is related to sales growth. Sir, is it necessary to keep sales growth > 15% for the past 10 years or the range of 12-15% is also enough.
Thanks for writing to me! I am happy that you found the workshop valuable.
Choosing the criteria for the selection of stocks is purely an investor’s prerogative. I would prefer the growth rate to be as high as possible unless it crosses >30% at the level the growth rates become a bit unsustainable in the long run. However, if an investor believes that a company that she has found has all other good parameters in place and is growing within the 12-15% range, then she may go ahead with that company.
You may ask any of your queries here.
All the best for your investing journey!
Which parameters should be focused while screening stocks?
Your post & blog is very useful to all learners of fundamental stock investing. I want to know, as a learner when I scan stocks in Screener, which critical parameters should be focused like p/e, debt to profit, debt to equity, PB x PE etc.
Thanks for your feedback! I am happy that you liked the article and the website.
Before using the stock filtering feature of the screener, you need to decide what parameters of the stocks that you consider, are the best indicators for a fundamentally good stock. Once you have identified those parameters, then you can set the objective values in the filtering tool of the screener to find out the stocks that meet your parameters. Such objective parameters can be PE, D/E etc. as mentioned by you.
I have written dedicated articles on the website about financial analysis, valuation analysis, business analysis and management analysis. In each of these articles, I have explained the vital parameters to judge the fundamental position of any company. Many of these parameters are objective in nature where an investor can assign a threshold value like P/E <10, D/e <0.5, sales growth rate >15% etc.
You can find a compiled list containing all these parameters at a single page here:
Ideally, I would prefer to invest a stock which meets all the parameters. So I would set filter levels at the threshold value of each of these parameters and then analyse the resultant stocks presented by the screener.
You should go through the articles on “Selecting Top Stocks To Buy” and you would find detailed step by step process about the way an investor should approach stock investing.
I believe that the links I have shared above would give you a good insight about stock selection. Take your time to understand each concept discussed in these articles. I am sure by the time you would finish reading them, you would have decided your own checklist of parameters.
Dr Vijay Malik
How to generate stock ideas for investment?
How to make decisions about small companies with less information?
Dear Dr Vijay Malik,
I have been following you for quite some time and look for some sort of guidance on investing. First of all, I want to thank you for the articles on your blog.
I am reaching out to you to seek guidance on broadly two basic points below.
1) First of all, how does one generate ideas: general walks of life as Peter Lynch says or by using stock screeners?
The investing process articulated by you can be followed only by having some research universe in place. I have read your blog wherein you have suggested screening using the following queries:
- Sales have grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% for the last 10 years.
- Price to earnings ratio is less than 10
- Debt to Equity ratio is less than 1
- Cash generated from operations is positive and
- Market capitalization is greater than INR 25 cr.
I also look for the last three queries. However, I need your wisdom on the first two.
What I mean essentially is, if a company has posted 15% CAGR in sales for 10 years, it would have reached some reasonable scale and one might not be entering in early as a decent price appreciation would already have happened.
- How do we spot companies which would post 15% sales CAGR for the next 10 years? I mean how to find that very inflexion point in a company’s business operations?
- Can you share your experience on how you spotted your good picks such as Mayur Uniquoters Limited etc.?
- Do you read all BSE announcements?
- What are the pointers you generally look at?
In order to look for stock ideas, I read magazines such as Capital Market, Dalal Street, MoneyLife etc. However, this is something, which I am not liking anymore. I want to do some primary research (I am definitely finding Screener very useful). Could you suggest some process/habits?
2) Having found your research universe, how do you gather information for these early-stage companies which are thinly traded and tracked?
I mean for micro-cap companies (say a market cap of less than Rs. 100 crores), you don’t find quarterly presentations, con-call transcripts or detailed website. Some of them do publish detailed annual reports; however, you get them only after a year. The quarterly results of most of these companies is a mere one-pager P&L account with just numbers and no management commentary. How do you conduct detailed due diligence and monitoring/follow-on research in such circumstances?
In my quest to get the answers to the above questions, I have been trying to meet/talk to successful investors and taking their valuable guidance.
I look forward to your guidance on the above queries and getting connected to you.
Thanks for writing to us. We are happy that you found the articles useful.
1) We use Screener’s filtering function to generate ideas. However, there is no absolute right or wrong way for idea generation. If an investor feels that she likes primary research for idea generation, then she should follow it.
In “Peaceful Investing” we do not make future projections. We analyse the past performance and believe that management is the best judge for the future. We try to find out the reasons for good past performance. If we are convinced that the good performance is because of the strength of the business and the management, then and we associate with the management for our future investment journey while staking our faith on the management to do the best for the business and the shareholders.
We read all the announcements made by companies to stock exchanges.
The following series of articles will help you understand the process used by us in making a stock selection:
You may choose to take guidance from the same.
2) The information about small companies, which is available in the public domain, is less than the large companies. Therefore, an investor has to make a decision based on limited information. Many times, it is the constraints of deciding within the realm of less information, which is the reason for resultant higher returns obtained by investors in small companies as many investors avoid these companies due to lack of information.
On our part, whenever we need clarifications about any aspect of the business of companies we write to them by email.
All the best for your investing journey!
Dr Vijay Malik
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Registration status with SEBI:
I am registered with SEBI as a research analyst.
Details of financial interest in the Subject Company:
I do not own stocks of the companies mentioned above in my portfolio at the date of writing this article.