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This week, we offer a refresher course on our Options Screener (Old Version). Since we introduced this product in early 2003, it has greatly enhanced the user-friendliness and flexibility of our service. Many new subscribers (and even some long-standing ones) are not aware of all the attractive features that this screener offers. In this report, we review these features and try to answer questions that you might have.

About our “Old” and “New Screeners”

Our New Screener has several advantages over our Old Screener. First of all, it can screen for an unlimited number of options. Secondly, it allows subscribers to access our expanded option profile pages. However, we continue to use the Old Screener because it offers a number of features that are not yet available with the new version (such as allowing you to save as many sets of screen criteria as you want). For purposes of this report, we will be focuses on our Old Screener.

Getting Started

To access our Old Screener, click on the tab marked “Resources,” and select Old Screener. This takes you to the page shown in Figure 1 on page 4. Subscribers to the Value Line Investment Survey will notice that the format is similar to Online Stock Screener, also available at www.valueline.com. We designed the Options Screener so that you can operate it without having to read extensive instructions. Here is a walk-through of what you get. You will notice that there is a box that allows you to enter the underlying stock (or ETF or index) ticker code or codes. You can enter (or copy) as many tickers as you want into this box. Just make sure to separate each ticker code with a space. You will also see a box with 11 Preset Screens. The first two VLIS 1700 and VLIS Small & Mid-Cap denote whether the underlying stocks are ranked in the regular (larger cap) edition of the Value Line Investment Survey (denoted with a Timeliness rank) or in the Small and Mid-Cap Edition of the Survey (or in the Value Line Database, both denoted with a Performance rank). You can also specify if you want just Calls or just Puts. If you want, you can restrict your search to Longer- Term Options (Leaps). Also among our preset screens, you will find our Selected Options for the 6 basic strategies (Naked Call Buying, Naked Put Buying, Naked Call Writing, Naked Put Writing, Covered Call Writing and Married Put Buying).

The box on the left allows you to select an industry - or if you wish - any number of different industries. To select more than one industry, simply press the “Ctrl” key while clicking on the desired industries.

Ranks

Below these boxes are our 8 rank selectors; Common, Technical, Naked Call Buyer’s, Naked Put Buyer’s, Naked Call Writer’s, Naked Put Writer’s, Covered Call Writer’s and Married Put Buyer’s. Clicking on more than one rank in a particular row gives you all the options that meet any of the selected criteria (e.g. Common ranks of 1 or 2). Clicking on boxes in different rows will search for options that meet both criteria (e.g. Common rank of 1 and Naked Call Buyer’s rank of 1). Notice that in Figure 1, we have selected all options with a common rank of 1 or 2 and a technical rank of 1 or 2. To the right of the Common rank boxes, you will see two boxes marked “Up” and “Down.” Click on either of these boxes, if you want only options on stocks whose ranks have changed over the past week. “Up” denotes an upgrade in rank (e.g. from a 2 to a 1), while “Down” denotes a downgrading in rank (e.g. from a 4 to a 5). Note: these common ranks are updated every Monday with 10 a.m. run of Value Line Options.

Additional Option Information

In the 10 boxes below, you can select more than 40 different criteria fields for your screens. (These fields are listed in the six different groups in Figure 2 on page 5.) You can select your data field via these six groups via Click to select a field name. This will give you a separate dropdown menu for each. Alternatively, you can click on Please select a field name here. This will give you the field names in alphabetical order. You then need to select a Minimum Value and/or a Maximum Value. Click Remove in the right hand column, if you want to erase a particular selection. Notice that in Figure 3 on page 5, under Additional Option Information, we have specified that we want (1) covered call/put writes with a per-annum yield of 25% (enter .25), (2) covered call/put write protection with a minimum of 7% (enter 0.07), (3) an expiration date of between 3/1/2012 (minimum) and 6/30/2012 (maximum), (4) writer’s under/overpriced minimum of 0 (i.e. not under-priced) and (5) % in- Out-of-the- Money maximum of 0 (meaning the covered call is not in-the-money).

Display Options

When you do a screening, the default display is the options ticker code plus the data fields that you have selected. For instance, if you screen for the following: Common rank 1, Technical rank 1, and Put Writer’s rank 5, the default display will return only the ticker code information plus these 3 columns of information. For more complete displays, you can use the Edit Display Option feature. Just click on it and the box shown in Figure 4 on page 6 will appear. Notice you can save these display options, and then reload them. You can make these display options your new default by clicking on the box marked Always use saved displayed columns in result window. Also notice that you are given a choice of which field you can sort by and whether this sort will be in ascending or descending order. (In Figure 4 on page 6, we chose to display the options in descending order of Cov’d Call/Put Write Return in descending order – i.e. the highest yielding options first.) Finally, notice that you can select the number of options per underlying stock that meet our criteria. In our example, we have selected 1 option per stock.

Options Profiles and Add to Portfolio

As you can with our regular interactive options page, you can tag the boxes on the left of the options ticker. Then click on View Profile. Notice that you can tag all the boxes just by clicking on the option ticker box at the top of the left-hand column. You can also click on Add to Portfolio just by clicking on the link so marked. These options will then be tracked in our User Portfolio in Interactive Options.

Saving Your Screen Criteria

Going back to the top of Figure 1, notice that you can save your screens (i.e. set of selection criteria) to use another day. The default name is My Screener Filter.Txt. You can save as many screens as you like, but always make sure you use a separate name and the .txt filename subscript
(e.g. “CoveredCall.Txt” for the screening used in this report).

Saving Your Screenings

You can also save your actual screenings as spreadsheet friendly comma separated (CSV) files. If you click on Export Results you save the output as it appears on your screen with the columns you selected in Display Options. If you click on Export as Port.Csv, you save the options in our standard spreadsheet format with all 50+ fields of data. (Note you can if you wish change the name of the file as you save it in the dialogue box that appears.)

Questions and Answers

Q: Can I use the Screener to narrow down my search from Selected Options for the basic strategies?

A: Yes. Just mark the Selected Options you want under Preset Screens and then put in your desired criteria and display options.

Q: Can I use the screener to find the best options from a particular list of stocks?

A: Yes you can. Simply enter or copy the stock ticker (or tickers) in the box marked Stock Ticker(s). Make sure to separate the tickers with a space.

Q: Can I use the option screener in conjunction with the Value Line Stock Screener?

A: Yes, with the stocks you have selected with the Stock Screener, you can automatically open you Options Screener with this selection of stocks.

Q: Can I save and use different screens for different strategies?

A: You can save as many different screens as you want.

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.