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How Investors Can Grab Better Returns for Finance Using the Zacks ESP Screener

Finding stocks expected to beat quarterly earnings estimates becomes an easier task with our Zacks Earnings ESP.

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This story originally appeared on Zacks

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.

- Zacks

Life and the stock market are both about expectations, and rising above what is expected is often rewarded, while falling short can come with negative consequences. Investors might want to try to capture stronger returns by finding positive 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 Earnings ESP, or Expected Surprise Prediction, aims to find earnings surprises by focusing on the most recent analyst revisions. The basic premise is that if an analyst reevaluates their earnings estimate ahead of an earnings release, it means they likely have new information that could possibly be more accurate.

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.

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.

Stocks with a #3 (Hold) ranking, which is most stocks covered at 60%, are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. But stocks that fall into the #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, or the top 15% and top 5% of stocks, respectively, should outperform the market. Strong Buy stocks should outperform more than any other rank.

Should You Consider American Express?

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. American Express (AXP) earns a #3 (Hold) right now and its Most Accurate Estimate sits at $1.79 a share, just 30 days from its upcoming earnings release on October 22, 2021.

By taking the percentage difference between the $1.79 Most Accurate Estimate and the $1.77 Zacks Consensus Estimate, American Express has an Earnings ESP of 1.01%. Investors should also know that AXP 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.

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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