Two factors often determine stock prices in the long run: earnings and interest rates. Investors can’t control the latter, but they can focus on a company’s earnings results every quarter.
We know earnings results are vital, but how a company performs compared to bottom line expectations can be even more important when it comes to stock prices, especially in the near-term. This means that investors might want to take advantage of these earnings surprises.
Hunting for ‘earnings whispers’ or companies poised to beat their quarterly earnings estimates is a somewhat common practice. But that doesn’t make it easy. One way that has been proven to work is by using the Zacks Earnings ESP tool.
The Zacks Earnings ESP, Explained
The Zacks Earnings ESP, or Expected Surprise Prediction, aims to find earnings surprises by focusing on the most recent analyst revisions. The basic premise is that if an analyst reevaluates their earnings estimate ahead of an earnings release, it means they likely have new information that could possibly be more accurate.
The core of the ESP model is comparing the Most Accurate Estimate to the Zacks Consensus Estimate, where the resulting percentage difference between the two equals the Expected Surprise Prediction. The Zacks Rank is also factored into the ESP metric to better help find companies that appear poised to top their next bottom-line consensus estimate, which will hopefully help lift the stock price.
In fact, when we combined a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better and a positive Earnings ESP, stocks produced a positive surprise 70% of the time. Perhaps most importantly, using these parameters has helped produce 28.3% annual returns on average, according to our 10 year backtest.
Stocks with a #3 (Hold) ranking, which is most stocks covered at 60%, are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. But stocks that fall into the #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, or the top 15% and top 5% of stocks, respectively, should outperform the market. Strong Buy stocks should outperform more than any other rank.
Should You Consider Applied Materials?
Now that we understand what the ESP is and how beneficial it can be, let’s dive into a stock that currently fits the bill. Applied Materials (AMAT) earns a #2 (Buy) right now and its Most Accurate Estimate sits at $1.95 a share, just 16 days from its upcoming earnings release on November 11, 2021.
By taking the percentage difference between the $1.95 Most Accurate Estimate and the $1.94 Zacks Consensus Estimate, Applied Materials has an Earnings ESP of 0.52%. Investors should also know that AMAT is just one of a large group of stocks with positive ESPs. All of these qualifying stocks can be filtered by ESP, Zacks Rank, % Surprise (Last Qtr.), and Reporting date.
Using the Zacks Earnings ESP to your advantage is just the start. Make sure to check out the Earnings ESP Home Page for even more earnings-related tips and tricks to design a winning investment portfolio.
Find Stocks to Buy or Sell Before They’re Reported
Use the Zacks Earnings ESP Filter to turn up stocks with the highest probability of positively, or negatively, surprising to buy or sell before they’re reported for profitable earnings season trading. Check it out here >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.