Wall Street watches a company's quarterly report closely to understand as much as possible about its recent performance and what to expect going forward. Of course, one figure often stands out among the rest: earnings.
Life and the stock market are both about expectations, and rising above what is expected is often rewarded, while falling short can come with negative consequences. Investors might want to try to capture stronger returns by finding positive earnings surprises.
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 Earnings ESP is more formally known as the Expected Surprise Prediction, and it aims to grab the inside track on the latest analyst estimate revisions ahead of a company's report. The idea is relatively intuitive as a newer projection might be based on more complete 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.
Bringing together a positive earnings ESP alongside a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better has helped stocks report a positive earnings surprise 70% of the time. Furthermore, by using these parameters, investors have seen 28.3% annual returns on average, according to our 10 year backtest.
Stocks with a ranking of #3 (Hold), or 60% of all stocks covered by the Zacks Rank, are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. Stocks with rankings of #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy), 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 CarMax?
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. CarMax (
KMX Quick Quote KMX - Free Report) holds a #3 (Hold) at the moment and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $1.90 a share six days away from its upcoming earnings release on September 30, 2021.
By taking the percentage difference between the $1.90 Most Accurate Estimate and the $1.89 Zacks Consensus Estimate, CarMax has an Earnings ESP of 0.17%. Investors should also know that KMX 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.
Now that you know how to use the Zacks Earnings ESP to your advantage, make sure to check out the
Earnings ESP Home Page for even more earnings related strategies to create a winning 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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