U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 8 mins

Why athenahealth (ATHN) is Poised to Beat Earnings Estimates Again

Zacks Equity Research
1 / 2

BP (BP) Gains But Lags Market: What You Should Know

In the latest trading session, BP (BP) closed at $44.70, marking a +0.45% move from the previous day.

Looking for a stock that has been consistently beating earnings estimates and might be well positioned to keep the streak alive in its next quarterly report? Athenahealth (ATHN), which belongs to the Zacks Medical Info Systems industry, could be a great candidate to consider.

This maker of billing and medical practice management software has seen a nice streak of beating earnings estimates, especially when looking at the previous two reports. The average surprise for the last two quarters was 44.86%.

For the last reported quarter, athenahealth came out with earnings of $1.09 per share versus the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.92 per share, representing a surprise of 18.48%. For the previous quarter, the company was expected to post earnings of $0.73 per share and it actually produced earnings of $1.25 per share, delivering a surprise of 71.23%.

Price and EPS Surprise

Thanks in part to this history, there has been a favorable change in earnings estimates for athenahealth lately. In fact, the Zacks Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) for the stock is positive, which is a great indicator of an earnings beat, particularly when combined with its solid Zacks Rank.

Our research shows that stocks with the combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better produce a positive surprise nearly 70% of the time. In other words, if you have 10 stocks with this combination, the number of stocks that beat the consensus estimate could be as high as seven.

The Zacks Earnings ESP compares the Most Accurate Estimate to the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter; the Most Accurate Estimate is a version of the Zacks Consensus whose definition is related to change. The idea here is that analysts revising their estimates right before an earnings release have the latest information, which could potentially be more accurate than what they and others contributing to the consensus had predicted earlier.

Athenahealth currently has an Earnings ESP of +9.96%, which suggests that analysts have recently become bullish on the company's earnings prospects. This positive Earnings ESP when combined with the stock's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) indicates that another beat is possibly around the corner. We expect the company's next earnings report to be released on October 18, 2018.

With the Earnings ESP metric, it's important to note that a negative value reduces its predictive power; however, a negative Earnings ESP does not indicate an earnings miss.

Many companies end up beating the consensus EPS estimate, but that may not be the sole basis for their stocks moving higher. On the other hand, some stocks may hold their ground even if they end up missing the consensus estimate.

Because of this, it's really important to check a company's Earnings ESP ahead of its quarterly release to increase the odds of success. Make sure to utilize our Earnings ESP Filter to uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they've reported.


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
athenahealth, Inc. (ATHN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
Zacks Investment Research