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Why Cigna (CI) Could Beat Earnings Estimates Again

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Zacks Equity Research
·3 min read
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Have you been searching for a stock that might be well-positioned to maintain its earnings-beat streak in its upcoming report? It is worth considering Cigna (CI), which belongs to the Zacks Insurance - Multi line industry.

When looking at the last two reports, this health insurer has recorded a strong streak of surpassing earnings estimates. The company has topped estimates by 9.41%, on average, in the last two quarters.

For the most recent quarter, Cigna was expected to post earnings of $4.25 per share, but it reported $4.41 per share instead, representing a surprise of 3.76%. For the previous quarter, the consensus estimate was $5.05 per share, while it actually produced $5.81 per share, a surprise of 15.05%.

With this earnings history in mind, recent estimates have been moving higher for Cigna. In fact, the Zacks Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) for the company is positive, which is a great sign of an earnings beat, especially when you combine this metric with its nice 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.

Cigna currently has an Earnings ESP of +1.96%, 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 #3 (Hold) indicates that another beat is possibly around the corner. We expect the company's next earnings report to be released on February 4, 2021.

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.


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