Two factors often determine stock prices in the long run: earnings and interest rates. Investors can't control the latter, but they can focus on a company's earnings results every quarter.
We know earnings results are vital, but how a company performs compared to bottom line expectations can be even more important when it comes to stock prices, especially in the near-term. This means that investors might want to take advantage of these earnings surprises.
The ability to identify stocks that are likely to top quarterly earnings expectations can be profitable, but it's no simple task. Here at Zacks, our Earnings ESP filter helps make things easier.
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 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 ServiceNow?
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. ServiceNow (
NOW Quick Quote NOW - Free Report) holds a #3 (Hold) at the moment and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $1.45 a share five days away from its upcoming earnings release on October 27, 2021.
NOW has an Earnings ESP figure of 4.32%, which, as explained above, is calculated by taking the percentage difference between the $1.45 Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.39. ServiceNow 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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