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.
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.
With this in mind, the Expected Surprise Prediction compares the Most Accurate Estimate (being the most recent) against the overall Zacks Consensus Estimate. The percentage difference provides the ESP figure. The system also utilizes our core Zacks Rank to provide a stronger system for identifying stocks that might beat their next quarterly earnings estimate and possibly see the stock price climb.
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 UnitedHealth Group?
Now that we understand what the ESP is and how beneficial it can be, let's dive into a stock that currently fits the bill.
UnitedHealth Group ( earns a #3 (Hold) right now and its Most Accurate Estimate sits at $5.51 a share, just 14 days from its upcoming earnings release on October 14, 2022. UNH Quick Quote UNH - Free Report)
By taking the percentage difference between the $5.51 Most Accurate Estimate and the $5.45 Zacks Consensus Estimate, UnitedHealth Group has an Earnings ESP of +1.08%. Investors should also know that UNH is one of a large group of stocks with positive ESPs. Make sure to utilize our
Earnings ESP Filter to uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they've reported.
UNH is just one of a large group of Medical stocks with a positive ESP figure.
Teladoc ( is another qualifying stock you may want to consider. TDOC Quick Quote TDOC - Free Report)
Slated to report earnings on October 26, 2022, Teladoc holds a #3 (Hold) ranking on the Zacks Rank, and it's Most Accurate Estimate is -$0.47 a share 26 days from its next quarterly update.
For Teladoc, the percentage difference between its Most Accurate Estimate and its Zacks Consensus Estimate of -$0.59 is +19.09%.
UNH and TDOC's positive ESP metrics may signal that a positive earnings surprise for both stocks is on the horizon.
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 >>