VectorVest and Zacks are research platforms designed to help active investors find the best stocks to buy. Both platforms offer stocks ratings that make it easy to find potential investing opportunities.
That said, VectorVest is more tailored for trading thanks to its built-in charting tools, market overview, and support for broker integrations. Zacks, on the other hand, is designed for self-directed investors interested in taking positions that may be open for several months at a time.
So, which platform is right for you? Our VectorVest vs. Zacks comparison will help you decide.
About VectorVest and Zacks
VectorVest was launched in 1988 by Dr. Bart DiLiddo, a mathematician who took an interest in finance and business. The platform uses a proprietary algorithm to score stocks based on their value, safety, and timing for trading. VectorVest covers more than 8,000 US stocks and an additional 8,000 international stocks from the UK, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Zacks Investment Research was founded in 1978 as an investment analysis firm. Today, it has a large team of in-house analysts who cover roughly 1,150 US stocks. Our comparison will focus on Zacks Premium, a subscription service from Zacks that includes access to analysts’ stock rankings.
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Investing Style & Research
VectorVest and Zacks have somewhat similar approaches to recommending stocks. At VectorVest, a proprietary algorithm rates stocks on three factors: value, safety, and timing. Each rating is on a scale of 0-2, where 1 represents the average for the entire universe of stocks that VectorVest covers. Based on these ratings, each stock is assigned a buy, sell, or hold rating.
Zacks also relies on three factors to rate stocks: value, growth, and momentum. These factors are graded on a scale of A-F, which is a little bit easier to interpret than VectorVest’s 0-2 scale. Importantly, at Zacks, all ratings are derived from human stock analysts, not from an algorithm. Every stock that Zacks rates comes with a full analyst report, which explains the rationale behind the grades and offers significantly more detail about a company than is available through VectorVest.
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Stock Recommendations & Lists
Both VectorVest and Zacks provide stock recommendations in the form of lists that are updated daily. On both sites, these lists make it significantly easier to sift through the wealth of stocks that are being analyzed.
At VectorVest, a list of recommended stocks is assembled by analysts on a daily basis. The list is combined with a market timing indicator, which suggests whether it is generally a good time or bad time to buy stocks based on current market conditions.
At Zacks, stocks are grouped into five different lists, ranked #1 to #5. Stocks on the #1 list are a strong buy, while stocks on the #5 list are a strong sell. The #1 list adds (and loses) around 20 new stocks each day, so it usually takes several weeks for the list to turn over completely.
Zacks also has what it calls a Focus list, which includes 50 stocks that Zacks analysts believe are long-term buys. Another list covers stocks for which Zacks expect an earnings surprise based on recent earnings estimates revisions by Wall Street analysts.
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Stock Screeners
Stock screeners play an important role at both VectorVest and Zacks. Both platforms offer a variety of pre-made screens that put their custom stock scores to work to help you find undervalued stocks that are poised for a price movement. For example, at Zacks, you’ll find screens for “highly ranked undervalued stocks,” “undervalued Zacks #1 rank stocks,” and “top ranked growth stocks on the move.”
Both platforms also let you create your own screens incorporating these stock ratings and a wide range of fundamental and technical parameters. We found the Zacks screener to be significantly more user-friendly, but the VectorVest screener offers more options for adding your results to a watchlist or quickly pulling up price charts.
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Trading Support
One major difference between VectorVest and Zacks is that VectorVest has a number of features aimed at day traders. For example, a technical charting interface is built right into the platform, and you can easily pull up charts from any stock page, watchlist, or scan results list. VectorVest also offers integrations with brokers like Ally Invest, Questrade and TradeStation so you can trade directly from the research platform.
Zacks does offer integrated charts from TradingView, but it’s hardly designed for active trading. Rather, the Zacks #1 rank list includes stocks that analysts believe are strong buys over a one to three-month period. Technical strength is considered in Zacks rankings, but on weekly and monthly timescales rather than daily timescales.
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Performance
VectorVest doesn’t offer any information about its performance, in part because there is no easy way to designate a single set of stocks as belonging to the platform’s portfolio. Recommended stocks change daily and there is little consistency as to whether the stocks that VectorVest recommends are suitable for day trading or medium-term investing.
Zacks, on the other hand, grades its performance based on the stocks in its #1 rank list. Since 1988, the #1 rank list has delivered an annualized average return of more than 25%,
VectorVest vs. Zacks: Pricing
VectorVest offers three pricing tiers: Basic, Enhanced, and Premium. The Basic plan costs $69 per month and includes access to all stock ratings, the daily recommended stock list, and VectorVest’s screening tools. The Enhanced and Premium plans, which cost $99 and $149 per month, respectively, add features for trading. These include stop-loss recommendations, a breakout scanner, and a trading strategy backtesting tool.
Which Service is Better?
While VectorVest and Zacks each have a lot to offer, we think Zacks offers a greater value. For a fraction of the price of a VectorVest Basic membership, Zacks Premium offers detailed analyst research, clear stock ranking lists, and highly actionable screeners. It’s easy to use and the #1 rank list has a strong track record relative to the broader market.
VectorVest could be a good option for more active investors who want new stock recommendations on a daily basis. However, the lack of performance data and the fact that stock ratings are largely based on a proprietary algorithm makes it difficult to fully trust this service. The intended timeframe for investments recommended by VectorVest is also highly variable, making it more complicated for medium-term investors to use the platform successfully.
Alternatives to VectorVest and Zacks
Morningstar offers in-depth stock analysis that’s similar to what Zacks offers, but is more focused on fair value and moats than on growth prospects or momentum. Morningstar also stands out for active portfolio building thanks to its ETF screener and portfolio analysis tools. Morningstar offers much of its research for free, but a Premium subscription costs $34.95 per month or $249 per year.
Motley Fool Stock Advisor
For investors who prefer a simpler service, Motley Fool Stock Advisor is a great option. Whereas Zacks and Vectorvest are focused on self-directed research, Motley Fool Stock Advisor provides members with straightforward stock picks. Stock Advisor members can skip the research and get two well-research stock picks from the Motley Fool team every month. As of March 2022, Stock Advisor stock picks have 4X’ed the returns of the S&P 500. The service is affordably priced at $199/year (with discounts available for new members).
For more active trading, you may want to consider a service like Marketsmith from Investor’s Business Daily. Marketsmith offers annotated charts to help you analyze entry and exit points, and it comes with top stock picks from a team of experienced analysts. Marketsmith can be pricey, though, as it costs $149.95 per month or $1,499 per year.
VectorVest and Zacks offer stock research and recommendations for active investors. We think Zacks offers a better value for most investors thanks to its strong performance, analyst reports, and actionable stock screeners.