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.
The earnings figure itself is key, of course, but a beat or miss on the bottom line can sometimes be just as, if not more, important. Therefore, investors should consider paying close attention to these earnings surprises, as a big beat can help a stock climb and vice versa.
Hunting for 'earnings whispers' or companies poised to beat their quarterly earnings estimates is a somewhat common practice. But that doesn't make it easy. One way that has been proven to work is by using the Zacks Earnings ESP tool.
The Zacks Earnings ESP, Explained
The Zacks Earnings ESP is more formally known as the Expected Surprise Prediction, and it aims to grab the inside track on the latest analyst estimate revisions ahead of a company's report. The idea is relatively intuitive as a newer projection might be based on more complete information.
The core of the ESP model is comparing the Most Accurate Estimate to the Zacks Consensus Estimate, where the resulting percentage difference between the two equals the Expected Surprise Prediction. The Zacks Rank is also factored into the ESP metric to better help find companies that appear poised to top their next bottom-line consensus estimate, which will hopefully help lift the stock price.
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.
Most stocks, about 60%, fall into the #3 (Hold) category, and they are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. Stocks with a #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy) rating, or the top 15% and top 5% of stocks, respectively, should outperform the market, with Strong Buy stocks outperforming more than any other rank.
Should You Consider Fortinet?
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. Fortinet (FTNT) holds a #2 (Buy) at the moment and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $0.88 a share zero days away from its upcoming earnings release on July 29, 2021.
By taking the percentage difference between the $0.88 Most Accurate Estimate and the $0.86 Zacks Consensus Estimate, Fortinet has an Earnings ESP of 2.11%. Investors should also know that FTNT is just one of a large group of stocks with positive ESPs. All of these qualifying 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.
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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 >>
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Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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