Wall Street Bulls Look Optimistic About Novo Nordisk (NVO): Should You Buy?

The recommendations of Wall Street analysts are often relied on by investors when deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold a stock. Media reports about these brokerage-firm-employed (or sell-side) analysts changing their ratings often affect a stock's price. Do they really matter, though?

Let's take a look at what these Wall Street heavyweights have to say about Novo Nordisk (NVO) before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage.

Novo Nordisk currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.54, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by 14 brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.54 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.

Of the 14 recommendations that derive the current ABR, 10 are Strong Buy and one is Buy. Strong Buy and Buy respectively account for 71.4% and 7.1% of all recommendations.

Brokerage Recommendation Trends for NVO

Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for NVO

Check price target & stock forecast for Novo Nordisk here>>>

The ABR suggests buying Novo Nordisk, but making an investment decision solely on the basis of this information might not be a good idea. According to several studies, brokerage recommendations have little to no success guiding investors to choose stocks with the most potential for price appreciation.

Do you wonder why? As a result of the vested interest of brokerage firms in a stock they cover, their analysts tend to rate it with a strong positive bias. According to our research, brokerage firms assign five "Strong Buy" recommendations for every "Strong Sell" recommendation.

In other words, their interests aren't always aligned with retail investors, rarely indicating where the price of a stock could actually be heading. Therefore, the best use of this information could be validating your own research or an indicator that has proven to be highly successful in predicting a stock's price movement.

Zacks Rank, our proprietary stock rating tool with an impressive externally audited track record, categorizes stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), and is an effective indicator of a stock's price performance in the near future. Therefore, using the ABR to validate the Zacks Rank could be an efficient way of making a profitable investment decision.

Zacks Rank Should Not Be Confused With ABR

Although both Zacks Rank and ABR are displayed in a range of 1-5, they are different measures altogether.

Broker recommendations are the sole basis for calculating the ABR, which is typically displayed in decimals (such as 1.28). The Zacks Rank, on the other hand, is a quantitative model designed to harness the power of earnings estimate revisions. It is displayed in whole numbers -- 1 to 5.

It has been and continues to be the case that analysts employed by brokerage firms are overly optimistic with their recommendations. Because of their employers' vested interests, these analysts issue more favorable ratings than their research would support, misguiding investors far more often than helping them.

In contrast, the Zacks Rank is driven by earnings estimate revisions. And near-term stock price movements are strongly correlated with trends in earnings estimate revisions, according to empirical research.

Furthermore, the different grades of the Zacks Rank are applied proportionately across all stocks for which brokerage analysts provide earnings estimates for the current year. In other words, at all times, this tool maintains a balance among the five ranks it assigns.

There is also a key difference between the ABR and Zacks Rank when it comes to freshness. When you look at the ABR, it may not be up-to-date. Nonetheless, since brokerage analysts constantly revise their earnings estimates to reflect changing business trends, and their actions get reflected in the Zacks Rank quickly enough, it is always timely in predicting future stock prices.

Is NVO Worth Investing In?

Looking at the earnings estimate revisions for Novo Nordisk, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has remained unchanged over the past month at $3.32.

Analysts' steady views regarding the company's earnings prospects, as indicated by an unchanged consensus estimate, could be a legitimate reason for the stock to perform in line with the broader market in the near term.

The size of the recent change in the consensus estimate, along with three other factors related to earnings estimates, has resulted in a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) for Novo Nordisk. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>

It may therefore be prudent to be a little cautious with the Buy-equivalent ABR for Novo Nordisk.

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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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