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How Investors Can Grab Better Returns for Oils and Energy Using the Zacks ESP Screener

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·3 min read
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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.

We know earnings results are vital, but how a company performs compared to bottom line expectations can be even more important when it comes to stock prices, especially in the near-term. This means that investors might want to take advantage of these 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.

When we join a positive earnings ESP with a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or stronger, stocks posted a positive bottom-line surprise 70% of the time. Plus, this system saw investors produce roughly 28% 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 Marathon Petroleum?

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. Marathon Petroleum (MPC) earns a #3 (Hold) right now and its Most Accurate Estimate sits at -$0.70 a share, just 13 days from its upcoming earnings release on May 4, 2021.

MPC has an Earnings ESP figure of 2.45%, which, as explained above, is calculated by taking the percentage difference between the -$0.70 Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of -$0.72. Marathon Petroleum is one of just a large database of stocks with positive ESPs. These stocks can be filtered by ESP, Zacks Rank, % Surprise (Last Qtr.), and Reporting date.

Now that you know how to use the Zacks Earnings ESP to your advantage, make sure to check out the Earnings ESP Home Page for even more earnings related strategies to create a winning portfolio.

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 >>


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Zacks Investment Research