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Dean Foods Company (DF - Analyst Report) is set to report its fourth quarter 2012 results on Feb 13. Last quarter it posted an approximate +17.9% surprise. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors in the Past Quarter

Despite a decline of 7.8% in net sales, Dean Foods’ adjusted earnings for the last-reported quarter jumped 83% to 33 cents per share. The improvement was an outcome of disciplined expense control on all fronts throughout the organization. The company continues to make headway with its efforts to achieve the lowest cost position in the industry. We believe that the company has benefited from continued focus on cost reduction initiatives across its businesses. Further, as the U.S. economy is showing signs of stabilization, we believe that Dean Foods is well positioned to capitalize on the opportunity.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Dean Foods is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank #1, #2 or #3 for this to happen. That is not the case here, owing to the following factors:

Zacks ESP: ESP for Dean Foods is 0.00%. This is because the Most Accurate Estimate stands at 30 cents, which is in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Zacks #3 Rank (Hold): Dean Foods’ Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) lowers the predictive power of ESP because the Rank #3, when combined with a 0.00% ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with Zacks #4 and #5 Ranks (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider. Our model shows that the following companies have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Flowers Foods Inc. (FLO - Snapshot Report) has an Earnings ESP of +5.56% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

J&J Snack Foods Corporation’s (JJSF - Snapshot Report) Earnings ESP stands at +5.00% and it carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Adecoagro S.A. (AGRO - Snapshot Report) with an Earnings ESP of +71.43%, holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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