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What is a Real Earnings Surprise?

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As we enter Q1 earnings season, stocks are still lingering around the all-time highs. That normally sounds like good news. Unfortunately:

Higher Stocks Prices = Higher Expectations = Harder to Satisfy Investors

That is why this earnings season is so important for the broader market. As for individual stocks, there will be big winners and losers depending on the strength of their individual reports. Yet that brings to mind one of the most confusing things about earnings season:

Why do some stocks sky rocket on a positive earnings surprise while others fall off a cliff?

In this article we are going to tackle this little-understood issue. Better yet, I will share with you two ways to profit from earnings surprises. More on that later.

3 Reasons Stocks Can Drop After a Positive Earnings Surprise

1) Estimates vs. Expectations: The standard definition of an earnings surprise is when actual earnings come in higher than earnings estimates. But those estimates are the "published" numbers from the brokerage analysts. Quite often investors tend to develop their own unique set of expectations that can differ greatly from the Wall Street analysts. If there is too much optimism ahead of the release, then actual earnings will need to be a blowout in order to appease investors' inflated expectations. This is the most common reason why some stocks fall after a "supposed" earnings beat.


2) Quality of Earnings: The highest quality earnings come from having robust revenue growth. This means that the company's products or services are in high demand and should stay that way into the future. However, these days far too much of earnings being reported is generated from cost cutting and other "accounting gimmickry". The problem with that is that the benefits of these moves don't last. When the market gets a whiff that the earnings are unsustainable, no matter how strong the beat, shares will most likely drop.



Earnings Whisper Access Closes Saturday

Some 900 companies will report earnings in the next few days. Meanwhile, a Zacks whisper breakthrough is targeting a handful of positive surprises before reports are released. These predictions are made with previously unthinkable accuracy.

Imagine buying a stock a couple days ahead of its report and then selling after its price "pops." Important: This strategy is in high demand and closes to new investors Saturday, April 20.

Get details now >>


3) Forward Guidance: Plain and simple, when you buy a stock you are taking an ownership stake. And what owners of companies care about is the stream of future earnings. So if a company beats earnings for the quarter just reported, but warns that future quarters will see lower earnings, then that stock will go down...and go down fast.

2 Ways to Make Money on Earnings Surprises

So now that we have outlined things that can go wrong after an earnings surprise, let's shift gears and talk about something even more important: How to turn a profit from earnings surprises. Here are two ways to go about it.

Good Way: Buy shares in any company that had an earnings surprise and rose the day following the news. These stocks experience what academics call the "Post Earnings Announcement Drift". Studies clearly show that these stocks usually outperform the market over the next 9 months. Conversely, you should sell any stock in your portfolio that misses its earnings numbers, as it likely to underperform the market for the next few quarters. The downside of this approach is that there are literally thousands of stocks to choose from every quarter.

Best Way: Find stocks where the earnings "whispers" tip you off that a big surprise is coming. Buy the shares shortly before the announcement and enjoy quick gains of 10%, 15%, 20% when the earnings surprise is officially reported.

I know what you're thinking. There are no Magic 8-balls for the stock market, so how can this be possible??? But fret not; this isn't a magic show. It's pure science.

The concept of finding a profitable source of earnings whispers has long been the Holy Grail of stock investing. Many experts have tried and failed to make this work. In fact, we had been researching this for 3 straight years.

Early on we found clues that told us stocks more likely to surprise, but not necessarily rise in price. Not till the Summer of 2010 did we finally discover the right combination of elements that predicted POSITIVE surprises 77.96% of the time. This has led to the highest overall stock-picking "win" rate for any Zacks strategy.

Where to Find These Earnings Whisper Stocks?

We can't share all the details of our proprietary whisper formula with you, but this system relies on two under-utilized signals coming from the brokerage analyst community. These factors are then layered on top of other time-tested elements such as the Zacks Rank and Zacks Industry Rank to find only the best stocks in the best industries to profit from each earnings season.

If you would like to receive our precise buy/sell signals, then I invite you to join our Zacks Whisper Trader. But a word of caution. Due to overwhelming demand, we are closing it to new investors Saturday, April 20. The number of investors who share these stocks must be limited. Don't delay. Click the link below:

Learn more about Zacks Whisper Trader

Wishing you great financial success,


Steve Reitmeister has been with Zacks since 1999 and currently serves as the Executive Vice President in charge of and all of its leading products for individual investors. After many long years of research by our team, he is extremely proud to share their historic earnings prediction breakthrough, the Zacks Whisper Trader


Normally $25 each - click below to receive one report FREE:

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