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The Zacks Rank methodology is a great way to identify the best companies to invest in, and is a useful tool for beginner and more experienced investors alike; it discovers companies both big and small that have the right characteristics to produce superior gains.

When a company earns that coveted Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) title, its means they have a high probability of outperforming the market over the next one to three months. But, achieving this high rank is not an easy thing to do, as only 5% of companies within the Zacks Rank universe earn this position.

Below, we highlight a stock that has persevered in a notoriously volatile industry, and by following our ranking system, investors could have realized major gains.

GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes SA (GOL - Free Report)

Brazil’s largest airline, GOL is an industry leader that carries 33 million passengers annually on over 700 daily flights throughout its home country, broader South America, and the Caribbean. It’s popular loyalty program, Smiles, is one of the largest coalition loyalty programs in Latin America, with more than 13 million registered members; Smiles lets its clients accumulate miles and redeem tickets to roughly 700 locations worldwide.

Heading into the company’s first-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings report on May 10, GOL was a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company surged past bottom line estimates, reflecting a positive earnings surprise of about 607%. Total net revenues reached R$2.6 billion, and ancillary and cargo revenues grew 27% sequentially. As a result, it moved up to a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank on May 19. Management announced a guidance increase soon after, with EBITDA margin and operating margin, in particular, expected to gain. At the closing bell on May 19, the company’s stock price was $4.90 per share.

However, GOL’s path to Strong Buy status was just getting started. It eventually hit the jackpot on July 21—and maintained the top rank for a good run—due to a solid second quarter earnings report a few weeks later on August 9. Earnings beat the Zacks Consensus, and revenues grew significantly year-over-year; passenger revenues were up 5.3% as well. And, GOL’s total load factor, which represents the percentage of seats filled with passengers, was 77.9%, up from the year-ago quarter. Three months after becoming a #2 pick, the company’s stock price increased 19.18% to $5.84 per share.

GOL was added to the #1 (Strong Buy) list again after it reported another great quarter on November 8. Both the top and bottom line outpaced our consensus estimate, while total revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) grew about 5% year-over-year. Net passenger revenue per available seat kilometers (PRASK) rose 9.2%, and net operating revenues per available seat kilometers (RASK) grew 8.3%, which boosted the top line. At the closing bell on November 24, when GOL became a #1 again, its stock price was $8.83 per share, surging over 50% since hitting ‘Buy’ territory.

The international airline giant remained a #1 (Strong Buy) for the better part of January, but slipped to a #3 (Hold) on February 9. However, GOL closed at $10.20 per share that day, which reflects a roughly 108% gain in the last nine months or so. It’s currently trading at around the $12 mark.

Here, this table demonstrates the price performance of GOL (in green), as well as the 12-month forward looking EPS estimate (in red) from when the stock became a #1 (Strong Buy) until the close of the bell on February 26.

By utilizing the Zacks Rank, investors are able to easily identify elite stocks that are best positioned to beat the market on a consistent basis, and how to hold those top stocks as they continue to grow.

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