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Bull of the Day: Huron (HURN)

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Huron Consulting Group Inc. (HURN - Free Report) is a global consulting firm that operates in an array of areas. Huron executives have set the company up for success as the U.S. and many other countries and regions around the world face economic challenges amid persistently-high inflation.

HURN shares have surged in 2022 even as the market tumbles. And its highly-ranked consulting industry is poised to remain resilient during an economic downturn.

Huron Basics

Huron is a consulting firm that, like every company in the field, aims to help its clients optimize their performance to run stronger, more successful businesses and organizations. Huron boasts that it’s focused on thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo, with a concentration on creating sustainable long-term change, success, efficiency, and beyond.

Part of Huron’s core focus is helping clients who are attempting to figure out ways to adapt and succeed when “facing disruptive and regulatory” challenges and changes. HURN works with clients across healthcare, education, life sciences, financial services, energy, manufacturing, the public sector, and other parts of the economy.

Huron is designed to help its clients “accelerate their strategic, operational, digital, and cultural transformation.” The firm’s core areas of expertise includes broader concentrations such as business operations, digital, consumer transformation, research enterprise, and more.

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Growth Outlook

Huron posted another strong quarter at the end of July, topping our Q2 estimates. The firm has now beaten our bottom-line projections in the trailing five periods.

Huron executives also felt confident enough to boost their FY22 guidance in the face of macroeconomic unknowns as its digital transformation offerings continue to attract clients. Huron’s digital segment jumped 47% in the second quarter and 42% for the first six months of the year.

Huron’s positive FY22 and FY23 earnings revisions help it land a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) right now. Zacks estimates call for its revenue to jump 18% this year and another 9.4% higher in FY23 to reach $1.2 billion to outpace inflation.

HURN’s bottom-line outlook is even stronger, with its adjusted earnings projected to climb 26% and 20%, respectively to hit $3.92 per share in 2023.

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Other Fundamentals

Huron shares have climbed roughly 28% in the past 12 months. This includes a 33% run in 2022 to crush the S&P 500’s 20% downturn and the larger Zacks Business Services Sector’s 30% drop. HURN’s 95% jump in the past five years matches its Consulting Services industry.

HURN shares are trading not too far off from the 52-week highs they hit in August. Plus, the current average Zacks consensus price target offers over 15% upside to the roughly $66 per share Huron trades at right now.  

Despite outperforming its Zacks Econ sector, Huron trades at a discount of 18.1X forward 12-month earnings vs. 22.1X. The stock is also trading at a 30% discount to its own decade-long highs and not too far off from its median. And it offers 15% value compared to its highly-ranked industry. 

Huron’s Consulting Services industry sits in the top 9% of over 250 Zacks industries. This is potentially crucial for investors looking to outperform the market in the fourth quarter and beyond because it’s proven that being part of a strong industry leads to better price performance.

Bottom Line

On top of its Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), all four of the brokerage recommendations Zacks has for Huron are “Strong Buys.” Huron also has a solid balance sheet and operates a business that should be able to hold up well during the current macro backdrop.

It’s worth stressing once again how key it is to find companies that have been able to buck the market’s downtrend in 2022. And Huron’s ability to lift its guidance when most sectors outside of energy have lowered their outlooks is impressive.


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