Whether you're a growth, value, income, or momentum-focused investor, building a successful investment portfolio takes skill, research, and a little bit of luck.
But what's the best way to find the right combination of stocks? Because funding things like your retirement, your kids' college tuition, or your short- and long-term savings goals will definitely require significant returns.
Enter the Zacks Rank.
What is the Zacks Rank?
A unique, proprietary stock-rating model, the Zacks Rank uses earnings estimate revisions, or changes to a company's earnings expectations, to help investors create a winning portfolio.
There are four main factors behind the Zacks Rank: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise.
Agreement is the extent to which all brokerage analysts are revising their earnings estimates in the same direction. The greater the percentage of analysts revising their estimates higher, the better chance the stock will outperform.
Magnitude is the size of the recent change in the consensus estimate for the current and next fiscal years.
Upside is the difference between the most accurate estimate, which is calculated by Zacks, and the consensus estimate.
Surprise is made up of a company's last few quarters' earnings per share surprises; companies with a positive earnings surprise are more likely to beat expectations in the future.
Each one of these factors is given a raw score that's recalculated every night, and then compiled into the Zacks Rank. Using this data, stocks are classified into five groups, ranging from "Strong Buy" to "Strong Sell."
The Power of Institutional Investors
The Zacks Rank also allows individual investors, or retail investors, to benefit from the power of institutional investors.
Institutional investors are responsible for managing the trillions of dollars invested in mutual funds, hedge funds, and investment banks. Research has shown that these investors can and do move the market due to the large amount of money they deal with, and thus, the market tends to move in the same direction as them.
In order to figure out the fair value of a company and its shares, these investors will build valuation models focused on earnings and earnings expectations. Because if you raise estimates for the bottom line, it creates a higher fair value for a company.
Institutional investors then act on these changes in earnings estimates, typically buying stocks with rising estimates and selling those with falling estimates; an increase in earnings estimates can translate into higher stock prices and bigger gains for the investor.
Retail investors who get in at the first sign of upward revisions have a distinct advantage over larger investors since it can often take weeks, if not months, for an institutional investor to build a position. They'll also benefit from the expected institutional buying that could follow.
Not only can the Zacks Rank help you take advantage of trends in earnings estimate revisions, but it can also provide a way to get into stocks that are highly sought after by professionals.
How to Invest with the Zacks Rank
The Zacks Rank is known for transforming investment portfolios. In fact, a portfolio of Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks has beaten the market in 26 of the last 32 years, with an average annual return of +25.41%.
Moreover, stocks with a new #1 (Strong Buy) ranking have some of the biggest profit potential, while those that fell to a #4 (Sell) or #5 (Strong Sell) have some of the worst.
Let's take a look at Steel Dynamics (STLD), which was added to the Zacks Rank #1 list on April 22, 2021.
Based in Fort Wayne, IN, Steel Dynamics, Inc. is among the leading steel producers and metal recyclers in the United States. It currently has steelmaking and coating capacity of more than 11 million tons. It is one of the most diversified steel companies in United States with a vast range of specialty products. The company makes and markets steel products, processes and sells recycled ferrous and nonferrous metals, and fabricates and sells steel joist and decking products in the United States and internationally.
For fiscal 2021, four analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days, and the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $3.92 to $7.89 per share. STLD boasts an average earnings surprise of 10.5%.
Analysts are expecting earnings to grow 177.8% for the current fiscal year, with revenue forecasted to rise 45.9%.
Additionally, STLD has climbed higher over the past four weeks, gaining 11.9%. The S&P 500 is up 6.8% in comparison.
With a #1 (Strong Buy) ranking, positive trend in earnings estimate revisions, and strong market momentum, Steel Dynamics should be on investors' shortlist.
If you want even more information on the Zacks Ranks, or one of our many other investing strategies, check out the Zacks Education home page.
Discover Today's Top Stocks
Our private Zacks #1 Rank List, based on our quantitative Zacks Rank stock-rating system, has more than doubled the S&P 500 since 1988. Applying the Zacks Rank in your own trading can boost your investing returns on your very next trade. See Today's Zacks #1 Rank List >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Steel Dynamics, Inc. (STLD): Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
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.