Earnings are arguably the most important single number on a company's quarterly financial report. Wall Street clearly dives into all of the other metrics and management's input, but the EPS figure helps cut through all the noise.
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.
Hunting for 'earnings whispers' or companies poised to beat their quarterly earnings estimates is a somewhat common practice. But that doesn't make it easy. One way that has been proven to work is by using the Zacks Earnings ESP tool.
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 Seagate?
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. Seagate (
STX Quick Quote STX - Free Report) holds a #2 (Buy) at the moment and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $1.85 a share 29 days away from its upcoming earnings release on July 27, 2021.
STX has an Earnings ESP figure of 2.13%, which, as explained above, is calculated by taking the percentage difference between the $1.85 Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.81. Seagate is one of just a large database of stocks with positive ESPs. These 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.
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