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Beat the Market the Zacks Way: Rolls-Royce, Costco, e.l.f. Beauty in Focus

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The three mostly followed indexes ended last week positively, hovering near record highs despite a cautious approach by investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3%, 0.8%, and 0.6%, respectively.

Several data releases during the week kept investors speculating about the Federal Reserve’s latest policy decision to be revealed this week. The ‘advance’ fourth-quarter GDP showed a 3.3% annualized increase compared to the consensus estimate of 2%. Initial jobless claims rose by 25,000 to 214,000 for the week ending January 20, 2023. Inflation has come down more rapidly than expected and is currently at the lowest levels in the past three years. However, the unexpectedly strong economic growth could lead the Fed to take more time to begin rate cuts.

Regardless of market conditions, we, here at Zacks, provide investors with unbiased guidance on how to beat the market. 

As usual, Zacks Research guided investors over the past three months with its time-tested methodologies. Given the prevailing market uncertainty, you may want to look at our feats to prepare better for your next action.

Here are some of our key achievements:

Rolls-Royce and LiveRamp Surge Following Zacks Rank Upgrade

Shares of Rolls-Royce Holdings plc (RYCEY - Free Report) have gained 27.8% (versus the S&P 500’s 8.4% increase) since it was upgraded to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) on November 20.

Another stock, LiveRamp Holdings, Inc. (RAMP - Free Report) , which was upgraded to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) on November 21, has returned 17% (versus the S&P 500’s 7.6% increase) since then.

Zacks Rank, our short-term rating system, has earnings estimate revisions at its core. Empirical research shows a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements. 

A hypothetical portfolio of Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks returned +20.63% in 2023 vs. +24.83% for the S&P 500 index and +15% for the equal-weight S&P 500 index. The portfolio of Zacks Rank #1 stocks is an equal-weight portfolio, while the S&P 500 index is a market-cap-weighted index that has been notably distorted by the concentrated performance of mega-cap stocks in 2023.

We are not trying to cherry-pick here. But since this Zacks Model portfolio, consisting of Zacks Rank #1 stocks, is an equal-weight portfolio, the equal-weight S&P 500 index is the appropriate benchmark for comparison. Looked at this way, this portfolio has handily outperformed the index.

The Zacks Model Portfolio - consisting of Zacks Rank #1 stocks – has outperformed the S&P index by more than 13 percentage points since 1988 (Through January 1st, 2024, the Zacks # 1 Rank stocks generated an annualized return of +24.18% since 1988 vs. +10.88% for the S&P 500 index).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks Rank #1 stocks here >>>

Check Rolls-Royce’s historical EPS and Sales here>>>

Check LiveRamp’s historical EPS and Sales here>>>

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Zacks Recommendation Upgrades Hibbett and AvidXchange Higher 

Shares of Hibbett, Inc. (HIBB - Free Report) and AvidXchange Holdings, Inc. (AVDX - Free Report) have advanced 14.5% (versus the S&P 500’s 7.3% rise) and 11.4% (versus the S&P 500’s 7.6% rise) since their Zacks Recommendation was upgraded to Outperform on November 24 and November 21, respectively.

While the Zacks Rank is our short-term rating system that is most effective over the one- to three-month holding horizon, the Zacks Recommendation aims to predict performance over the next 6 to 12 months. However, just like the Zacks Rank, the foundation for the Zacks Recommendation is trends in earnings estimate revisions.

The Zacks Recommendation classifies stocks into three groups — Outperform, Neutral and Underperform. While these recommendations are determined quantitatively, our analysts have the flexibility to override them for the 1100+ stocks they closely follow based on their better judgment of factors such as valuation, industry conditions and management effectiveness than the quantitative model.

To access our research reports with Zacks Recommendations for the 1100+ stocks we cover, click here>>>

Zacks Focus List Stocks Uber Technologies, Block Shoot Up

Shares of Uber Technologies, Inc. (UBER - Free Report) , which belongs to the Zacks Focus List, have gained 37.2% over the past 12 weeks. The stock was added to the Focus List on August 16, 2019. Another Focus-List holding, Block, Inc. (SQ - Free Report) , which was added to the portfolio on March 28, 2017, has returned 33.5% over the past 12 weeks. The S&P 500 has advanced 12.1% over this period. 

The 50-stock Zacks Focus List model portfolio returned +21.72% in 2023 (through November 30) vs. +20.79% for the S&P 500 index and +6.32% for the equal-weight S&P 500 index. In 2022, the portfolio produced -15.2% vs. the S&P 500 index’s -17.96%.

Since 2004, the Focus List portfolio has produced an annualized return of +11.07% through November 30, 2023. This compares to a +9.49% annualized return for the S&P 500 index in the same time period.

On a rolling one-, three- and five-year annualized basis, the Zacks Focus List returned +13.49%, +9.21%, and +14.05% vs. +13.82%, +9.74% and +12.51% for the S&P 500 index, respectively.

Unlock all of our powerful research, tools and analysis, including the Focus List, Zacks #1 Rank List, Equity Research Reports, Zacks Earnings ESP Filter, Premium Screener and more, as part of Zacks Premium. Gain full access now >>

Zacks ECAP Stocks Costco Wholesale and Thermo Fisher Scientific Make Significant Gains

Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST - Free Report) , a component of our Earnings Certain Admiral Portfolio (ECAP), has jumped 22.5% over the past 12 weeks. Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (TMO - Free Report) has followed Costco Wholesale with 20.4% returns.

The Zacks Earnings Certain Admiral Portfolio (ECAP), which consists of 30 concentrated, ultra-defensive, long-term Buy and Hold stocks, returned +12.17% in 2023 vs. +26.28% for the S&P 500 index. The portfolio returned -4.7% in 2022 vs. the S&P 500 index’s -17.96%.

With little to no turnover and annual rebalance periodicity, the ECAP seeks to minimize capital loss by holding shares of companies whose earnings streams exhibit a proven 20+ year track record of surviving recessionary periods with minimal impact on aggregate earnings growth relative to the overall S&P 500.

The ECAP and many other model portfolios are available as part of Zacks Advisor Tools, a cloud-based solution to access Zacks award-winning stock, mutual fund and ETF research. Click here to schedule a demo.

Zacks ECDP Stocks The Home Depot and Intercontinental Exchange Outperform Peers

The Home Depot, Inc. (HD - Free Report) , which is part of our Earnings Certain Dividend Portfolio (ECDP), has returned 20.2% over the past 12 weeks. Another ECDP stock, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE - Free Report) , has climbed 17.9% over the same time frame. Of course, the inclination of investors toward quality dividend stocks to secure an income stream amid heightened market volatility contributed to this performance.

Check The Home Depot’s dividend history here>>>

Check Intercontinental Exchange’s dividend history here>>>

With an extremely low Beta and a history of minimum earnings variability over the last 20+ years, this 25-stock portfolio helps significantly mitigate risk.

The Zacks Earnings Certain Dividend Portfolio (ECDP) returned -0.9% in 2023 vs. +26.28% for the S&P 500 index) and +8.11% for the Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL). The portfolio returned -2.3% in 2022 vs. -17.96% for the S&P 500 index and -8.34% for NOBL.

Click here to access this portfolio on Zacks Advisor Tools.  

Zacks Top 10 Stocks — e.l.f. Beauty Delivers Solid Returns

e.l.f. Beauty, Inc. (ELF - Free Report) , from the Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2024, has jumped 8.9% since the list was released on January 2 compared to a 2.6% increase for the S&P 500 Index.

The Top 10 portfolio returned +25.15% in 2023 vs. +26.28% for the S&P 500 index. Since 2012, the Top 10 portfolio has produced a cumulative return of +1060.9% through the end of 2023 vs. +360.1% for the S&P 500 index.

On a rolling one-, three- and five-year annualized basis, the Zacks Top 10 portfolio returned +25.15%, +14.13%, and +29.3% vs. +26.28%, +10.23% and +15.61% for the S&P 500 index, respectively.

Since 2012, the Zacks Top 10 portfolio has returned an annualized return of +22.67% through the end of 2023 vs. +13.56% for the S&P 500 index.

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