Building a successful investment portfolio takes skill and hard work, no matter if you're a growth, value, income, or momentum-focused investor.
But how do you find the right combination of stocks? Funding your retirement, your kids' college tuition, or your short- and long-term savings goals certainly requires significant returns.
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.
Each one of these factors is given a raw score that's recalculated every night, and then compiled into the Zacks Rank. Using this data, stocks are classified into five groups, 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 responsible for managing the trillions of dollars invested in mutual funds, hedge funds, and investment banks. Research has shown that these investors can and do move the market due to the large amount of money they deal with, and thus, the market tends to move in the same direction as them.
These investors are known for designing valuation models that focus on earnings and earnings expectations in order to figure out the fair value of a company and its shares. If earnings estimates are raised, it puts a higher value on a company.
With these changes, institutional investors will act, usually buying stocks with rising estimates and selling those with falling estimates. An increase in earnings expectations can potentially lead to higher stock prices 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
Marathon Petroleum (, which was added to the Zacks Rank #1 list on November 4, 2022. MPC Quick Quote MPC - Free Report)
Findlay, OH-based Marathon Petroleum Corporation is a leading independent refiner, transporter and marketer of petroleum products. The company, in its current form, came into existence following the 2011 spin-off of Houston, TX-based Marathon Oil Corporation’s refining/sales business into a separate, independent and publicly-traded entity. In October 2018, Marathon Oil completed the acquisition of its rival Andeavor in a $23.3 billion deal, thereby becoming the nationwide largest refining company by market capitalization. The deal also made the company the largest U.S. refiner and the fifth largest in the world by capacity.
Five analysts revised their earnings estimate higher in the last 60 days for fiscal 2022, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $3.94 to $25.70 per share. MPC also boasts an average earnings surprise of 60.1%.
Earnings are expected to grow 949% for the current fiscal year, while revenue is projected to increase 41.4%.
Even more impressive, MPC has gained in value over the past four weeks, up 10.5% compared to the S&P 500's gain of 6.2%.
With a #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, positive trend in earnings estimate revisions, and strong market momentum, Marathon Petroleum 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
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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.
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