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New to Investing? This 1 Medical Stock Could Be the Perfect Starting Point

Here at Zacks, we offer our members many different opportunities to take full advantage of the stock market, as well as how to invest in ways that lead to long-term success.

The Zacks Premium service, which provides daily updates of the Zacks Rank and Zacks Industry Rank; full access to the Zacks #1 Rank List; Equity Research reports; and Premium stock screens like the Earnings ESP filter, makes these more manageable goals. All of the features can help you identify what stocks to buy, what to sell, and what are today's hottest industries.

It also includes the Focus List, a long-term portfolio of top stocks that have all the elements to beat the market.

Breaking Down the Zacks Focus List

Building an investment portfolio from scratch can be difficult, so if you could, wouldn't you take a peek at a curated list of top stocks?

That's what the Zacks Focus List offers. It's a portfolio of 50 stocks that serve as a starting point for long-term investors to build their individual portfolios. The stocks included in the list are set to outperform the market over the next 12 months.

One thing that makes the Focus List even more advantageous is that each pick comes with a full Zacks Analyst Report. This helps explain why each stock was selected and why we believe it's a good pick for the long-term.

The portfolio's past performance only solidifies why investors should consider it as a starting point. For 2020, the Focus List gained 13.85% on an annualized basis compared to the S&P 500's return of 9.38%. Cumulatively, the portfolio has returned 2,519.23% while the S&P returned 854.95%. Returns are for the period of February 1, 1996 to March 31, 2021.

Focus List Methodology

When stocks are picked for the Focus List, it reflects our enduring reliance on the power of earnings estimate revisions.

Earnings estimates, or expectations of growth and profitability, come from brokerage analysts who track publicly traded companies; these analysts work together with company management to analyze every aspect that may affect future earnings, like interest rates, the economy, and sector and industry optimism.

What a company will earn down the road also needs to be taken into consideration, and this is why earnings estimate revisions are so important.

The stocks that receive positive changes to earnings estimates are more likely to receive even more upward changes in the future. Take this example: if an analyst raised their estimates last month, they'll probably do so again this month, and other analysts will follow.

Harnessing the power of earnings estimate revisions is where the Zacks Rank comes in. The Zacks Rank is a unique, proprietary stock-rating model that utilizes changes to a company's quarterly earnings expectations to help investors build a winning portfolio.

There are four main factors behind the Zacks Rank: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise. Each one of these features is then given a raw score that's recalculated every night and compiled into the Rank. Using this data, stocks are classified into five groups, ranging from "Strong Buy" to "Strong Sell."

The Focus List is comprised of stocks hand-picked from a long list of #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy) ranked companies, meaning that each new addition boasts a bullish earnings consensus among analysts.

Because stock prices react to revisions, buying stocks with rising earnings estimates can be very profitable. Focus List stocks offer investors a great opportunity to get into companies whose future earnings estimates will be raised, potentially leading to price momentum.

Focus List Spotlight: HCA Healthcare (HCA)

Effective May 8, 2017, the company’s name was changed to HCA Healthcare, Inc.  from HCA Holdings, Inc. It is the largest non-governmental operator of acute care hospitals in the U.S. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, it operates hospitals and related health care entities.

HCA, a #2 (Buy) stock, was added to the Focus List on January 7, 2019 at $123.39 per share. Since then, shares have increased 103.45% to $251.04.

Nine analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $2.63 to $16.78. HCA boasts an average earnings surprise of 11.7%.

Moreover, analysts are expecting HCA's earnings to grow 53.5% for the current fiscal year.

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HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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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    Zacks

    Zacks is the leading investment research firm focusing on stock research, analysis and recommendations. In 1978, our founder discovered the power of earnings estimate revisions to enable profitable investment decisions. Today, that discovery is still the heart of the Zacks Rank. A wealth of resources for individual investors is available at www.zacks.com.

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