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Bull of the Day: Cliffs Natural (CLF)

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Earlier this year, the stock market took everything mining and oil related and pounded it into oblivion. Honestly, I love it when we get that type of apocalyptic market action. Inevitably the punishment subsides and we realize that we may have been a little too hard on a particular stock or industry.

This type of scenario is the perfect opportunity to lean on the Zacks Rank of a stock. There are plenty of reasons why the market can turn on a stock but in my opinion there’s really only one reason to stay down on a stock and that’s earnings. If a company goes from making $10 a share to losing money, then you’ve got a problem. It’s a problem that you should avoid like the plague.

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But what the Zacks Rank does better than any other rating system out there is it helps you understand when the tide may be turning. As we see analysts begin to increase their earnings expectations on certain stocks then we see an uptick in the Zacks Rank. Suddenly those downtrodden stocks begin to turn around and eventually the Zacks Rank confirms it. When I see that confirmation, I know it’s time to strike.

Today’s Bull of the Day Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF - Free Report) is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) right now because the turnaround story is in full effect. Analysts have been increasing earnings estimates on this stock as things have begun to look up for the industry. Cliffs Natural Resources is an international mining company and a producer of iron ore pellets in North America as well as a supplier of metallurgical coal to the global steelmaking industry.

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The iron mining industry is in the Top 8% of our Zacks Industry Rank because there are lots of stocks in the business that are turning the corner. There are also several analysts changing their tune on the stock. Just 90 days ago, our Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current quarter sat at a 25 cent loss. Current year estimates called for a 78 cent loss.

Since then, several analysts have revised their earnings expectations on the backs of some dollar weakness and an overall improvement in the industry. This has caused them to increase their estimates, jacking up our Zacks Consensus Estimate to breakeven for the current quarter and a whopping 68 cent gain for the current year.

Traders have taken note of the increased estimates as shares have roared back from just over a buck in mid-January to nearly $6 to end April. Since then, a retrace to support below $3 was followed by another bounce to $5. Shares have begun to retreat a bit since then but look to be finding some bidders here.

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