Today I found an interesting little free stock screener on MSN Money at <a href=”http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/finder/customstocksdl.asp” target=”_blank”>link</a>. A screener gives you the ability to find stocks you want based on a set of pre-determined criteria. You first determine what type of companies you want to find. For example if you like companies that are trading reasonably relative to their earnings you could choose a PE (Price to Earnings ratio) less than 15. If you only want retailers that could be another criteria. (Why is it that retailers are among my favorite stocks?) If you want companies that are medium to large since they tend to be more stable the criteria could be a market capitalization above $2 billion. I like to avoid companies without a lot of debt. In this case I would add a screening parameter that excludes such companies such as Debt-to-equity ratio <=0.25 meaning than the ratio of debt to equity is less than 25%. Now that some criteria have been entered simply click the button to run the screen. You can see how this can eliminate hours of research. If the screen reveals 500 companies that meet your criteria initially then add some additional criteria to reduce and refine the parameters even more so that the screen only comes up with the very best choices for what you are seeking. I like to have fewer than 50 or so because I then need to take a good look at each company’s chart to determine whether it looks like a reasonable time to buy the stock among other additional research. <br><br>Technical indicators can also be added to screens to refine them even more and thereby reducing the amount of time you must spend researching the charts. Screens are wonderful time savers and can be a lot of fun to play with. The possibilities are endless.