So many stocks…So little time

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This is a practitioner’s post for someone looking for help to develop their own investment process, using a freely available resource: screener.in

The Calm Investor | Stock picking in India

Rule #1: Don’t f*** up

The financial newspapers have a section on them everyday – top ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell’ recommendations from brokerages. Financial news channels have a segment called something like “Top Trading Ideas for today”. During other segments, every interviewee, whether head of research at a brokerage / mutual fund house / hedge fund gets asked this question about top stock picks to invest, in India. They all oblige, with a fresh set of stocks (companies), every day, that will benefit from some overnight development, be it auto stocks with GST, export stocks with rupee devaluation, oil marketing stocks with oil price declines and so on.

Those new to investing, get swept up in the barrage of information, trying to keep up with what the “experts” say. Those who’ve been at it longer, know not to drink from the fire hydrant. If you’re a successful professional investor, you know the flurry of information is so damaging, you relocate to a different country and set clear rules of value investing for yourself.

As a broad rule, to not f*** up, Do not buy something because financial news media told you to.

While this awareness helps with the preliminary hurdle of not reacting to the whims of Mr. Market, it doesn’t solve the value investor’s problem.

If the stocks everyone is talking about are the wrong stocks given they are likely to have run up in price already, and if the right stocks are those that no one is talking about right now, how does the value investor develop his own list of stock picks?

Developing your investing “technique”

All unsuccessful investors are alike; every successful investor is successful in her own way – The Calm Investor

The first stock I ever bought was recommended to me by my father. I then added stocks from an industry sector I had worked in previously, thinking my superficial familiarity would be an advantage. But I knew this was really like a drunk man looking for his keys under the streetlight because it was too dark to look where he had actually dropped them.

What followed was the quest for the ideal process, from going top down (picking sectors then companies), going contrarian (looking for stocks at 52 week lows), even using price movements (gasp! technical analysis), to name a few. I was unable to develop any conviction in any of these methods, thus rendering me susceptible to switching back and forth, a sure recipe for disaster.

This was the time I came across the traditional investing tomes by Ben Graham – The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis. These books provide the essential foundation of being able to think about the company behind the stock symbol, essential to be any kind of successful investor, and especially one that looks to buy low and sell high.

Books by Graham, annual letters sent to Berkshire stockholders are immensely valuable in equipping you to arrive at an opinion on the value of a given company and the pitfalls to watch out for. Taking the principles from those and applying the fantastic lessons from surgeon Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto : How to Get Things Right, I devised my checklist for evaluating potential investments; The checklist approach to investing

However, in a investment universe of thousands of companies, they do not give you the tools to know where to look to begin with.

Where / How to look

Peter Lynch’s One Up On Wall Street offered a way to think about potential investments from what you already know. Which led to this framework for thinking about buying your first stock, in the Indian market.

While the “buying what you know” framework is a great way to get started, it is limited to consumer-facing sectors, thus leaving out large parts of the investible universe. It also works mostly for companies you’ve already encountered, often, for a large part of your life.

What I felt I needed was a quick and dirty way to classify companies into the “Maybe” and the “Do not touch” pile. Only companies in the “Maybe” pile warranted further analysis and a deeper look at their business. For example, if a company’s interest payments have been increasing and account for the bulk of its pre-tax profits, as an equity holder, I have no interest joining the very back of a long line of those having a claim on the company’s earnings, irrespective of whether it is the next hot thing.

Unable to resist using catchy monikers, I called it the TCI Rapid X-Ray, outlined in a previous post with a similar theme: So many stocks, so little time – an approach to stock selection. I received a flurry of emails on this post asking to share the tool. However, the problem was this was a very manual process, involving importing financial statements into a google sheet template with formulae. However, this is an error-prone process and the output is not easily shareable. Also, when moneycontrol, the site from where I imported the financial statements changed their format, it meant having to rebuild my scoring template from scratch.

That was until I discovered the screener.in

Using screener.in to automate the TCI Rapid X-Ray

screener.in, as the name suggests, is a stock screening tool, i.e. a tool that users can use to filter stocks based on your set of metrics. Depending on your own philosophy as an investor, you can use a bunch of pre-defined screens or create your own. Users can add their own screens for public consumption. As of last count, there are 25 pre-defined screens. With an intuitive and clean interface, it is one of best screening tools for Indian markets.

But that’s not why I fell in love with the site. What blew my mind is how it let me automate my process of scoring any given company on the TCI Rapid X-Ray. Here’s how:

Entering the name of any company in the searchbox, takes you to a page with the summary about the company’s stock price performance followed by a peer comparison on key parameters and financials at quarterly and annual level. screener lets you download the financials in a neat spreadsheet by, you guessed, clicking the ‘Export to Excel’ button.

The Calm Investor | Stock Picking

Clicking the button downloads a comprehensive amount of financial information to your computer in excel format. Shown here the numbers for Voltas Ltd.

The Calm Investor | Stock Picking

I’m guessing you’re wondering what’s the big breakthrough here? A few different sites including moneycontrol let you access financial information, maybe not as conveniently.

Assessing the viability of any one of hundreds, if not thousands of potential companies would need sifting through the financial statements, to identify weaknesses. And the time taken to do that makes the task prohibitive for most DIY investors.

This is when screener.in gets really interesting. The site allows you to customize the excel download to your own requirements. I added a new tab to the spreadsheet, to summarize and calculate the key metrics I’m interested in. I added automatic formatting, and trends to literally get the picture in a glance.

The Calm Investor | tci-rapid-x-ray

So, after a bit of fiddling about, I’m able to use the comprehensive financial data from screener.in to develop a composite picture of how strong a potential investment the company is. Not much good if I had to do that for every company I wanted to consider.

This is where screener is brilliant. I just need to upload the new customized spreadsheet to screener using the link screen below.The Calm Investor | Stock Picking | Screener.in

Now, when I export the financials for any listed company in sceener’s database, I see my newly added tab with the summary scores! See below the download for another company (Lupin), automatically populated with the TCI Rapid X-Ray tab.

The Calm Investor | tci-rapid-x-ray | screener.in

There you have it. Now, when I come across the name of a company as a promising investment, before spending any time thinking about it, I open screener.in, download the customized excel report and look through the TCI Rapid X-Ray tab to decide if I want to go any further.

Email me if you’d like to utilize the TCI Rapid X-Ray template to upload to your own screener.in accounts and I’ll be happy to send it to you.

65 Comments

  1. I would be interested,pls send it to me on ajit8d@yahoo.com

  2. hi please tell me your email id

  3. and this is a wonderful blog aboutt value investing

  4. Sent Ajit. Cheers.

  5. Hi will be glad if you could send it to me aswell at abhinav.pal@gipe.ac.in

  6. Hi please email the same to me as well .. amit.singh5189@yahoo.com

  7. Please send it to my email

  8. Hi i am interested in the template..could you please send me to sivap515@gmail.com. Thanks

  9. Your blog is really amazing for a novice investor like me. Could you please send the file to me as well? My email is: sat_iyer@yahoo.com

  10. Thanks Satish. Sent you the template.

  11. pls sent me the template

  12. Pl send the template to me vijaymajali@gmail.com

  13. Hi, thank you for this note. I have been using screener.in with my own version of a customized excel. Would be keen to see what parameters you track. Please could you send a copy of your excel to vigneshbabu.ram@gmail.com.

    thanks in advance!

  14. Excellent writeup. Very useful for novice like me. Could you plz share the template with me. Thanks.

  15. Thanks Ramesh!

  16. Please send it to presi.deepak@gmail.com. Appreciate the help.

  17. Hi.. Request you to send the template on nav_chandra_86@yahoo.co.in

  18. Hi, thanks for the post. Please email me the things rapid xray template.

  19. Please mail me as well the template at whirlingwoods@yahoo.in. Thanks

  20. Please send me the template at whirlingwoods@yahoo.in . Thanks .

  21. Kindly share the TCI Rapid X-Ray template. Thanks much in advance.

  22. now if you could show us foreigners which one of those many India stocks are to be bought, I would be all ears. High ROIC % – no debts – lots of free cashflow + surplus cash coupled to a PEG ratio no higher than 1 and a P/S lower than 1 would be fantastic. EV/EBITDA below 8 is a plus.

  23. There’s a few India stocks (not too many given the recent run) that fulfill those criteria Alain. (except I’m not a believer in PEG given it is forward looking). Haven’t published my picks here though 🙂

  24. Hi i am interested in the template..could you please send me to anopshares@gmail.com. Thanks

  25. Hello…I am interested in the template. Would you please share? My email id is: somnath4uall@gmail.com

  26. please send me too.

  27. Hi, For past 1 year I have been reading the fundamentals of value investing. I am also a big fan of screen.in but I am not very fluent with excel sheets. So if you can you share your template on my email id: jha_1490@yahoo.co.in that would be great.

  28. Excellent article. Keep up the good work. Can you send me the template.
    also . ramschari@hotmail.com. Also is the excel upload available in screener.in..cant locate it.

    Many thanks

  29. Thanks Ram! Have emailed you.

  30. Hi. Big fan of your blog. Please send me the template at rananurag.5@gmail.com. Thanks a ton.

  31. has anyone here received the excel sheet here?

  32. Rishabh, everyone here (and who reached out by email) have received the template

  33. Wow, very insightful!! Exactly what I was looking for. Please share the template with me jvaibhavj@rediffmail.com. Many Thanks.

  34. Hi!
    I’m currently making the second mistake you mentioned – looking at 52-week prices to decide my buying strategy, and trying to include top-down “insights” from macro signals received from news. 🙂

    That line grabbed my attention, and I read through the article, which was tremendously rewarding.

    Please share the template with me – arunsreelalan@gmail.com

  35. Email Sent.

  36. Thanks for excellent post. Can you please share excel to Praveen.veeragandhi@gmail.com

  37. Excellent!!Please send at zeeshansyed47@gmail.com

  38. Could you please share with me souvikbonnerjee@yahoo.com

  39. great..please share your customised sheet at Chhajerhimanshu384@gmail.com

  40. Please share the customized sheet at vivek_kool@yahoo.com many thanks in advance

  41. could you share the worksheet at chakolajacob@hotmail.com

  42. Excellent article. Could you please share the template at jilani.mydesk@gmail.com

  43. hello
    Could you share the template to qqcq6s59@gmail.com

  44. thank u so much for the sheet sir…

  45. Can you share the TCI Rapid X-ray template with me

  46. Your postings are interesting, and explore the TCI Rapid X-ray template. Can you share at sezhilmaran@gmail.com. Thanks in advance

  47. Emailed to you Ezhilmaran

  48. You just added one more admirer.. please send the TCI Rapid X-ray template

  49. Thank you, your website has introduced me to many concepts, applicable to real situations even outside investing. – Ezhilmaran S

  50. hi there,

    i would be interested, i hv used this site screener.in but what u hv presented seems interesting !

  51. Hi ! Can u please Email me the template at vlsnse@gmail.com .Thanks

  52. Hi,
    Please send the template with TCI Rapid X-ray at capt_rakeshshah@yahoo.co.in

  53. Please send your tci rapid x ray template on anand_gupta@live.com. Regards

  54. Interesting post and catchy name for a template!! Can you share your template with me?

  55. Can u pls mail me the template at vlsnse@gmail.com . Thanks

  56. Thank you very much for sending the template.

  57. Sent Vivek.

  58. Thanks JJ. Emailed you.

  59. You’re welcome Sir. Cheers!

  60. Hi Calm investor,

    Would love to have your template !

  61. Sure. But need an email id to send it to my friend 🙂

  62. Hi Calminvestor,

    I mentioned that in detail box. Here it is dradesh1980@gmail.com.
    Thanks !!

  63. Great post. Could you kindly send the template to prabhuilangovan@yahoo.com

  64. Hello Sir,
    I am new to investing and came across your blog. I read couple of your blogs and I must say they are really excellent. I am also interested in your customized template. Could you please share it with me at jijogk@yahoo.com
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  65. Could you please share the template to jijogk@yahoo.com

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