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Strategy Builder

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Strategy Builder

Screen, build and test unique investment strategies

Strategy Builder enables you to define and evaluate well-suited, multi-factor strategies for selecting investment candidates using both fundamental and technical analysis. Strategy Builder enables you to define and evaluate well-suited, multi-factor strategies for selecting investment candidates using both fundamental and technical analysis.

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Trading Central's global research team are here to help you harness the power of products! In the market updates below, our expert analysts use Technical Insight to find new opportunities!

Frequently asked questions.

How are the default Slider Range Values determined?

A. When a new criterion is added to a screen, the Value Range Slider Minimum and, Maximum values are preset and the Incremental Scale Values are marked on the scale. The following method is used to calculate the Slider Range Values: Strategy Builder determines the criterion values for all the listed companies, and sorts them highest to lowest. From the criterion values for all companies, the top 3% and the bottom 3% are excluded. The remaining 94%, sorted highest to lowest, comprise the total Slider Value Range for that criterion. Once the Slider Value Range has been determined, the lowest numerical value within the range becomes the Min Value and the highest numerical value within the range becomes the Max Value. The Slider Value Range between the Min and Max values is then divided into 5 ranges using a population distribution calculation. The boundary values for those ranges are marked on the Slider as Incremental Scale Values.

What do the alerts do?

Alerts will notify you as the top 10 list of stocks changes over time. Strategy Builder isn't just a stock screening tool; it's designed to help you follow a well suited strategy over time. When you turn on alerts for a screen, you will receive emails notifying you about which stocks have dropped off the top 10 list, and which stocks have newly made the cut. This saves you from constantly returning to find out the latest matches. When you decide what you want, it will just be emailed to you! To turn on alerts, you have to save the alert as your own so that it will appear in the "My Saved Screens" list. If you are building a new screen or looking at someone else's, you can save it by clicking the "Save Screen" button that appears in the top right of the screen. This will open a dialog box where you will see a “Toggle Alerts” toggle. Click the toggle to activate the alerts. You can decide if you want your updates Daily, Weekly, or Monthly depending on how often you revisit your investments. If you've already saved a screen and want to turn on alerts, just open the screen by clicking on its name in the "My Saved Screens" box and click on the alert icon beside the save button.

How are the Themes created?

All of our themes are created in one of two ways. Either they are custom curated by our team of analysts, or they are automatically recognized by “Felix”, Trading Central's artificial intelligence engine that digests news and social publications.

Why do the backtesting results for the same strategy change over time?

Backtesting is performed on a 5 year window on the latest available data, which means the 5 year window changes from week to week. So it's quite likely there will be some change in results from week to week. All backtests are run on weekly intervals, so they run from the most recent Friday, and then go back 5 years.The screen that is being tested is run once on a date 5 years ago, the instruments matching the screen are bought and held for 13 weeks, sold, then the screen is run again and the new instruments matching the screen are bought -- and so on, for the 5 year period. As the weeks pass, the starting date of the screening and backtesting changes and this, combined with the buy and hold period of 13 weeks, means that the historical screens never get run on the exact same days. It is quite possible that the latest backtest holds a completely different set of instruments ... and, even if they were the same, they would be held for different periods in their history. Considering this, it is not only possible to get different results from week to week, it's common. We believe running on the latest data is important. So to focus on a more likely returns figure, our backtesting filters out the outliers. Stocks that have an annualized return of over 200% over the test period of 13 weeks are rejected. Extreme results may still occur, but they aren't created by single extreme instruments. Instead they are created from a group of instruments with big returns, but not quite as extreme.

What is the difference between an Expert Strategy and a Preset Screen?

Expert Strategies are fine tuned, backtested screens developed by our team of analysts. Preset Screens are made up of commonly used criteria that can often be used as building blocks for creating a screen or to see quick lists of stocks (eg. Top Performers) without the need to build from scratch.

What do I do when my screen has too many or too few results.

If you feel that your list of results is unmanageable and needs further refining, adjust the minimum and/or maximum parameters on one your of your criteria, add criteria to your existing screen or try using another screen with a more specific set of criteria. If you are seeing very few or even no results, you can try reducing the number of criteria or expanding the range of one of your criteria. Remember, any stock that is included in the results must meet all the screening criteria, including multiple criteria in your screen may significantly reduce the total results.

Should I skip over screens that have a negative annualized return?

Strategies can have vastly different returns depending on the timeframe being evaluated. For example, while writing this response I am looking at a strategy called High Return on Equity. The Annualized Return is -7.7% and the long-term 5 Year Return (based on buying and holding over 5 years with cumulative effects) is -33.2%. However if you look at the near term analysis: 3 year return is +46.7%, 1 Year Return is +0.9% and 6 Month Return is +12%. The strategy suffered during the bearish market periods and performed respectably as the market recovered, and in the last 6 months the returns outpaced the selected benchmark index (in this case DJ Industrial Average). There isn't a perfect strategy for investing that will always provide the best returns. A prudent investor will continuously monitor the effectiveness of the strategies they're using and adapt them as market conditions change. For example, some strategies work best during trending periods, and not so well during sideways markets. Some work best during periods of strong economic growth, and not so well during recessions. We might not always recognize the shifts in market conditions that affect the usefulness of a strategy, but Strategy Builder can be used to tell us how the strategy has been working lately versus other time frames. Returns data is updated on a weekly basis to incorporate the results from the latest week, so you can see that the returns data changes over time. Sometimes these changes are minor; sometimes they can move a strategy from a positive to a negative returns situation. If a strategy was initially featured because it was positive, and then it becomes negative, then we don't necessarily remove it. It might become interesting again in the future.

When is the information on the backtesting platform rebalanced? I would like to "follow" the strategy the way it has been backtested and therefore need to understand the "rules".

The methodology for the backtesting is a 3-month buy and hold strategy. The test is run for 5 years, ending on the most recent Friday. So for example, a test run on April 27, 2011 will run for the 5 year window starting Friday April 28, 2006 to Friday April 22, 2011. It will run its first screen for Friday, April 28, 2006, hold the matching instruments for 13 weeks, rebalance on Friday, July 28, 2006, hold those for 13 weeks, rebalance on October 27, 2006, etc. Here is a breakdown of the process: At the beginning of the test period, the top 10 matching instruments are selected (or as many as match, if the number is less than 10). The beginning of the test window being 5 years prior on the Friday. A position is taken in each instrument, at a uniform distribution of available funds. Since all returns are measured in terms of percentage return, the total value of this initial pool is arbitrary. The instruments are held for 3 months (13 weeks), with the performance of the pool measured on weekly intervals for reporting purposes. At the end of 3 months, on the Friday, the instruments are deemed sold at the closing price. The process is repeated with a new set of instruments, distributing the total worth of the instruments from the previous period across the newly selected instruments (and so on), for the duration of the 5 year test period. There are no stops or any other adjustments to the instruments selected between rebalancing periods.

How are stocks ranked?

The rankings are specified after stocks are sorted and is based on the average for those criteria in the strategy positions of a stock's values within the criteria value distributions. Some criteria are considered ‘higher is better’, others are ‘lower is better’ and still others, such as Exchange, are not used in scoring. The stock with the highest average of graded positions will be ranked as the top stock in the results. Tied stocks are sorted by company name.

How accurate is the backtesting?

The testing is accurate based on the methodology used. The selection process at each rebalancing is the same as that used in the Screener, using point-in-time data for the date of rebalancing. The entry and exit price for each instrument is the closing price for the day of the rebalancing; the return for the period determined by the difference between the total worth of all investments at the beginning and end of each period. The dates of rebalancing depend on the date of the test. The backtest starts 5 years (260 weeks) prior to the most recent Friday at the time of the test, and moves forward in 13 week increments, rebalancing at the end of each period. As such, identical tests run on different weeks will see different results, as the rebalance date will fall on a different date and different instruments may be selected, having different entry and exit values. In addition to the timing, the 'accuracy' of the results, in terms of matching expectations, is also highly dependent on the criteria used. A test run one week with poor returns may show excellent returns when run at a different time. A small handful of instruments selected over the course of a backtest that performs exceptionally well (or poorly) will shift the overall results in the direction of their movement. This could result in a screen designed to find bullish instruments turning up more bearish ones instead. Our backtesting does filter out outliers in order to forcus on more likely returns. Instruments do not always move in predictable ways. The methodology of the backtests is followed rigorously. The results need to be looked at within the context of the methodology and the realization that a strategy does not always work as expected.

What are the benefits of trading within a strategy?

Top 5 reasons to follow a strategy We often hear about the same stocks as everyone else, but it's worthwhile to check how they stack up compared to others, and to discover those others too. You might be curious to learn how others evaluate stocks, what important data points do they consider that tell us about the business or price performance of a stock. By narrowing in on the selection criteria that you have come to gravitate to, you can benefit from automation with alerts that bring the latest opportunities to you, reliably by email as the rankings change with time. We focus on a basket of stocks to encourage some diversification. The performance of anyone stock can have any outcome. By taking several positions, we get the benefits of averaging out those many instances of possible outcomes. And though we acknowledge that past performance doesn't guarantee future results, we are curious to know the truth about how various stock selection methods compare to benchmarks. What can we learn by exploring the data offered by backtesting.

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