Some of those quality blue chips that occasionally offer themselves up at decent yields have been looking fully valued of late. With the FTSE closing at 6,154 last week, its highest level since May 2008, it sometimes feels like some of my best ideas are running away from me.

Take Reckitt Benckiser (LON: RB.) for example, a company which I admire as it has proved exceptional at generating shareholder value over many years, delivering excellent earnings and dividend growth from a combination of its strong portfolio of everyday consumer branded products and good management. I tend to keep quality shares like this on a watch list and try to patiently accumulate them whenever the yield looks attractive relative to the market. I see from my records that my last purchase of Reckitt Benckiser was in April 2011 when the share price took a small tumble following the resignation of its well respected CEO, Bart Becht, when it was available on a yield of 3.7%. But with the share price having increased by over 30% since then and the dividend growth slowing down, its yield of now barely over 3% holds less appeal. It’s a similar story for other quality consumer staples such as Unilever (LON: ULVR) and Diageo (LON: DGE). Quality or not, no share is worth paying any price for and the value investor in me (or miserliness if you like!) will begin to shy away when those yields drop below that of the market. It usually means there are better ideas out there.

As shares move in and out of fashion and fortunes change, it is always worth keeping an eye out for new ideas. Sometimes I will read the financial news and be inspired to look into a company, but more often than not my research will initiate from a simple share screen.

Share screeners

There are just too many listed companies out there to manually wade through for ideas. There’s about 600 in the FTSE All Share alone, but taking into account other listed companies and AIM shares, never mind the possibility of international shares, there are potentially thousands to choose from. Fortunately, with modern technology, share screening has become a lot easier in recent years as there are many online resources to help us look up lists of shares and have some way of whittling them down to a more manageable size to…

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