How to Find Strong Finance Stocks Slated for Positive Earnings Surprises

Earnings are arguably the most important single number on a company's quarterly financial report. Wall Street clearly dives into all of the other metrics and management's input, but the EPS figure helps cut through all the noise.

We know earnings results are vital, but how a company performs compared to bottom line expectations can be even more important when it comes to stock prices, especially in the near-term. This means that investors might want to take advantage of these 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 is more formally known as the Expected Surprise Prediction, and it aims to grab the inside track on the latest analyst estimate revisions ahead of a company's report. The idea is relatively intuitive as a newer projection might be based on more complete information.

With this in mind, the Expected Surprise Prediction compares the Most Accurate Estimate (being the most recent) against the overall Zacks Consensus Estimate. The percentage difference provides the ESP figure. The system also utilizes our core Zacks Rank to provide a stronger system for identifying stocks that might beat their next quarterly earnings estimate and possibly see the stock price climb.

In fact, when we combined a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or better and a positive Earnings ESP, stocks produced a positive surprise 70% of the time. Perhaps most importantly, using these parameters has helped produce 28.3% annual returns on average, according to our 10 year backtest.

Most stocks, about 60%, fall into the #3 (Hold) category, and they are expected to perform in-line with the broader market. Stocks with a #2 (Buy) and #1 (Strong Buy) rating, or the top 15% and top 5% of stocks, respectively, should outperform the market, with Strong Buy stocks outperforming more than any other rank.

Should You Consider BlackRock?

The final step today is to look at a stock that meets our ESP qualifications. BlackRock (BLK) earns a #3 (Hold) 14 days from its next quarterly earnings release on January 12, 2024, and its Most Accurate Estimate comes in at $8.89 a share.

BLK has an Earnings ESP figure of +1.99%, which, as explained above, is calculated by taking the percentage difference between the $8.89 Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $8.71. BlackRock is one of a large database of stocks with positive ESPs. Make sure to utilize our Earnings ESP Filter to uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they've reported.

BLK is part of a big group of Finance stocks that boast a positive ESP, and investors may want to take a look at Citizens Financial Group (CFG) as well.

Citizens Financial Group, which is readying to report earnings on January 17, 2024, sits at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) right now. It's Most Accurate Estimate is currently $0.52 a share, and CFG is 19 days out from its next earnings report.

For Citizens Financial Group, the percentage difference between its Most Accurate Estimate and its Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.51 is +0.59%.

Because both stocks hold a positive Earnings ESP, BLK and CFG could potentially post earnings beats in their next reports.

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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BlackRock, Inc. (BLK) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (CFG) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

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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