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Why Humana (HUM) is Poised to Beat Earnings Estimates Again

Zacks Equity Research

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? Humana (HUM), which belongs to the Zacks Medical - HMOs industry, could be a great candidate to consider.

This health insurer 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 5.75%.

For the most recent quarter, Humana was expected to post earnings of $2.53 per share, but it reported $2.65 per share instead, representing a surprise of 4.74%. For the previous quarter, the consensus estimate was $4.29 per share, while it actually produced $4.58 per share, a surprise of 6.76%.

Price and EPS Surprise

For Humana, estimates have been trending higher, thanks in part to this earnings surprise history. And when you look at the stock's positive Zacks Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction), it's a great indicator of a future earnings beat, especially 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.

Humana has an Earnings ESP of +0.84% at the moment, suggesting that analysts have grown bullish on its near-term earnings potential. When you combine this positive Earnings ESP with the stock's Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), it shows that another beat is possibly around the corner. The company's next earnings report is expected to be released on May 1, 2019.

When the Earnings ESP comes up negative, investors should note that this will reduce the predictive power of the metric. But, a negative value is not indicative of a stock's 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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