Central Garden (CENT) is a Great Momentum Stock: Should You Buy?

Momentum investing revolves around the idea of following a stock's recent trend in either direction. In the 'long' context, investors will be essentially be "buying high, but hoping to sell even higher." With this methodology, taking advantage of trends in a stock's price is key; once a stock establishes a course, it is more than likely to continue moving that way. The goal is that once a stock heads down a fixed path, it will lead to timely and profitable trades.

Even though momentum is a popular stock characteristic, it can be tough to define. Debate surrounding which are the best and worst metrics to focus on is lengthy, but the Zacks Momentum Style Score, part of the Zacks Style Scores, helps address this issue for us.

Below, we take a look at Central Garden (CENT), which currently has a Momentum Style Score of A. We also discuss some of the main drivers of the Momentum Style Score, like price change and earnings estimate revisions.

It's also important to note that Style Scores work as a complement to the Zacks Rank, our stock rating system that has an impressive track record of outperformance. Central Garden currently has a Zacks Rank of #1 (Strong Buy). Our research shows that stocks rated Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and #2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B outperform the market over the following one-month period.

You can see the current list of Zacks #1 Rank Stocks here >>>

Set to Beat the Market?

In order to see if CENT is a promising momentum pick, let's examine some Momentum Style elements to see if this maker of products for the pet supply and lawn and garden markets holds up.

A good momentum benchmark for a stock is to look at its short-term price activity, as this can reflect both current interest and if buyers or sellers currently have the upper hand. It is also useful to compare a security to its industry, as this can help investors pinpoint the top companies in a particular area.

For CENT, shares are up 0.33% over the past week while the Zacks Consumer Products - Discretionary industry is flat over the same time period. Shares are looking quite well from a longer time frame too, as the monthly price change of 11.81% compares favorably with the industry's 0.02% performance as well.

Considering longer term price metrics, like performance over the last three months or year, can be advantageous as well. Over the past quarter, shares of Central Garden have risen 28.33%, and are up 32.53% in the last year. On the other hand, the S&P 500 has only moved 12.07% and 28.52%, respectively.

Investors should also take note of CENT's average 20-day trading volume. Volume is a useful item in many ways, and the 20-day average establishes a good price-to-volume baseline; a rising stock with above average volume is generally a bullish sign, whereas a declining stock on above average volume is typically bearish. Right now, CENT is averaging 140,796 shares for the last 20 days.

Earnings Outlook

The Zacks Momentum Style Score encompasses many things, including estimate revisions and a stock's price movement. Investors should note that earnings estimates are also significant to the Zacks Rank, and a nice path here can be promising. We have recently been noticing this with CENT.

Over the past two months, 3 earnings estimates moved higher compared to none lower for the full year. These revisions helped boost CENT's consensus estimate, increasing from $2.03 to $2.22 in the past 60 days. Looking at the next fiscal year, 3 estimates have moved upwards while there have been no downward revisions in the same time period.

Bottom Line

Given these factors, it shouldn't be surprising that CENT is a #1 (Strong Buy) stock and boasts a Momentum Score of A. If you're looking for a fresh pick that's set to soar in the near-term, make sure to keep Central Garden on your short list.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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