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CR Bard Inc. (BCR - Analyst Report) is set to report its fourth-quarter 2012 results after the market closes on Thursday, Jan 31. Let’s see how things are shaping up prior to the announcement.

In the last quarter, the medical devices maker posted a 0.61% positive earnings surprise. The quarter generated moderate revenue growth accompanied by higher expenses.

Factors to Consider this Past Quarter

Bard is struggling to enhance its top line mainly due to sluggish sales in the U.S. market. Increasing competition and pricing/volume pressure in the U.S. economy along with the expected dilution from an expensive acquisition remain areas of concern.

Although the company is gaining traction in emerging markets, we remain on the sidelines due to the pertinent uncertainties in the global economy.

However, Bard’s well-diversified end markets as well as a vast product portfolio insulate it from fluctuations in any single therapeutic category. Meanwhile, we await more news on the pending Gore litigation.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Bard will likely beat earnings estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) as well as a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. This is not the case here as you will see below.

Negative Zacks Earnings ESP:  The Most Accurate estimate stands at $1.64, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is $1.67. This comes to a difference of -1.80%.

Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Bard carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which lowers the predictive power of ESP. This is because the Zacks Rank #3 when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. Moreover, we caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks of #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) before going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is experiencing negative estimate revisions.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider as our model shows that these have the right combination of ingredients to post an earnings beat this quarter: 

Cyberonics Inc. (CYBX - Analyst Report), Earnings ESP of +2.56% and Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

Resmed nc. (RMD - Analyst Report), Earnings ESP of +3.57% and Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX - Analyst Report), Earnings ESP of +3.25% and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

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