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Why Investors Need to Take Advantage of the Zacks ESP Screener

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Quarterly financial reports play a vital role on Wall Street, as they help investors see how a company has performed and what might be coming down the road in the near-term. And out of all of the metrics and results to consider, earnings is one of the most important.

The earnings figure itself is key, of course, but a beat or miss on the bottom line can sometimes be just as, if not more, important. Therefore, investors should consider paying close attention to these earnings surprises, as a big beat can help a stock climb and vice versa.

Now that we know how important earnings and earnings surprises are, it's time to show investors how to take advantage of these events to boost their returns by utilizing the Zacks Earnings ESP filter.

The Zacks Earnings ESP, Explained

The Zacks Expected Surprise Prediction, or ESP, works by locking in on the most up-to-date analyst earnings revisions because they can be more accurate than estimates from weeks or even months before the actual release date. The thinking is pretty straightforward: analysts who provide earnings estimates closer to the report are likely to have more information.

Now that we understand the basic idea, let's look at how the Expected Surprise Prediction works. The ESP is calculated by comparing the Most Accurate Estimate to the Zacks Consensus Estimate, with the percentage difference between the two giving us the Zacks ESP figure.

In fact, when we combined a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better and a positive Earnings ESP, stocks produced a positive surprise 70% of the time. Perhaps most importantly, using these parameters has helped produce 28.3% annual returns on average, according to our 10 year backtest.

Stocks with a #3 (Hold) ranking, which is most stocks covered at 60%, are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. But stocks that fall into the #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, or the top 15% and top 5% of stocks, respectively, should outperform the market. Strong Buy stocks should outperform more than any other rank.

Should You Consider New York Community Bancorp?

The last thing we will do today, now that we have a grasp on the ESP and how powerful of a tool it can be, is to quickly look at a qualifying stock. New York Community Bancorp (NYCB - Free Report) holds a #2 (Buy) at the moment and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $0.28 a share eight days away from its upcoming earnings release on April 28, 2021.

By taking the percentage difference between the $0.28 Most Accurate Estimate and the $0.27 Zacks Consensus Estimate, New York Community Bancorp has an Earnings ESP of 2.02%. Investors should also know that NYCB is just one of a large group of stocks with positive ESPs. All of these qualifying stocks can be filtered by ESP, Zacks Rank, % Surprise (Last Qtr.), and Reporting date.

Using the Zacks Earnings ESP to your advantage is just the start. Make sure to check out the Earnings ESP Home Page for even more earnings-related tips and tricks to design a winning investment portfolio.

Find Stocks to Buy or Sell Before They're Reported

Use the Zacks Earnings ESP Filter to turn up stocks with the highest probability of positively, or negatively, surprising to buy or sell before they're reported for profitable earnings season trading. Check it out here >>


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