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The Zacks Rank Explained: How to Find Strong Buy Oils and Energy Stocks

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Building a successful investment portfolio takes skill and hard work, no matter if you're a growth, value, income, or momentum-focused investor.

How do you find the right combination of stocks that will generate returns that could fund your retirement, or your kids' college tuition, or your short- and long-term savings goals?

Enter the Zacks Rank.

What is the Zacks Rank?

The Zacks Rank, which is a unique, proprietary stock-rating model, employs earnings estimate revisions, or changes to a company's earnings expectations, that makes building a winning portfolio easier.

There are four main factors behind the Zacks Rank: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise.

Agreement is the extent to which all brokerage analysts are revising their earnings estimates in the same direction. The greater the percentage of analysts revising their estimates higher, the better chance the stock will outperform.

Magnitude is the size of the recent change in the consensus estimate for the current and next fiscal years.

Upside is the difference between the most accurate estimate, which is calculated by Zacks, and the consensus estimate.

Surprise is made up of a company's last few quarters' earnings per share surprises; companies with a positive earnings surprise are more likely to beat expectations in the future.

These four factors are assigned a raw score that's recalculated every night, which is then compiled into the ranking system. Stocks are classified into five groups using this data, ranging from "Strong Buy" to "Strong Sell."

The Power of Institutional Investors

The Zacks Rank also allows individual investors, or retail investors, to benefit from the power of institutional investors.

Institutional investors are the professionals who manage the trillions of dollars invested in mutual funds, investment banks, and hedge funds. Studies have shown that these investors can and do move the market due to the large amounts of money they invest with. Because of this, the market tends to move in the same direction as institutional investors.

In order to determine the fair value of a company and its shares, institutional investors design valuation models that focus on earnings and earnings estimates. Because if you raise earnings estimates, it then creates a higher fair value for a company and its stock price.

Institutional investors will use these changes to help in their decision-making, typically buying stocks with rising estimates and selling those with falling estimates. Higher earnings expectations can translate into a rise in stock price and bigger gains for the investor.

Retail investors who get in at the first sign of upward revisions have a distinct advantage over larger investors since it can often take weeks, if not months, for an institutional investor to build a position. They'll also benefit from the expected institutional buying that could follow.

Not only can the Zacks Rank help you take advantage of trends in earnings estimate revisions, but it can also provide a way to get into stocks that are highly sought after by professionals.

How to Invest with the Zacks Rank

The Zacks Rank is known for transforming investment portfolios. In fact, a portfolio of Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks has beaten the market in 26 of the last 32 years, with an average annual return of +25.41%.

Moreover, stocks with a new #1 (Strong Buy) ranking have some of the biggest profit potential, while those that fell to a #4 (Sell) or #5 (Strong Sell) have some of the worst.

Let's take a look at Chevron (CVX - Free Report) , which was added to the Zacks Rank #1 list on August 4, 2021.

Chevron is one of the largest publicly traded oil and gas companies in the world with operations that span almost every corner of the globe. The only energy component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, San Ramon, CA-based Chevron is fully integrated, meaning it participates in every aspect related to energy – from oil production, to refining and marketing. The company generates around $95 billion in annual revenues and produces in excess of three million barrels per day of oil equivalent. Chevron currently churns out oil and natural gas at a 60/40 ratio. As of the end of 2020, the company had proved reserves of approximately 11.1 billion barrels of oil-equivalent.

Eight analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $1.11 to $6.63 per share. CVX boasts an average earnings surprise of 8.6%.

Earnings are forecasted to see growth of 3415% for the current fiscal year, and sales are expected to increase 54.6%.

Even more impressive, CVX has gained in value over the past four weeks, up 3.4% compared to the S&P 500's gain of 2.4%.

Bottom Line

With a #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, positive trend in earnings estimate revisions, and strong market momentum, Chevron should be on investors' shortlist.

If you want even more information on the Zacks Ranks, or one of our many other investing strategies, check out the Zacks Education home page.

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Our private Zacks #1 Rank List, based on our quantitative Zacks Rank stock-rating system, has more than doubled the S&P 500 since 1988. Applying the Zacks Rank in your own trading can boost your investing returns on your very next trade. See Today's Zacks #1 Rank List >>


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