What Makes Natera (NTRA) a Strong Momentum Stock: Buy Now?

Momentum investing is all about the idea of following a stock's recent trend, which can be in either direction. In the 'long' context, investors will essentially be "buying high, but hoping to sell even higher." And for investors following 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 in that direction. 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 Natera (NTRA), 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. Natera currently has a Zacks Rank of #2 (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?

Let's discuss some of the components of the Momentum Style Score for NTRA that show why this genetic testing company shows promise as a solid momentum pick.

Looking at a stock's short-term price activity is a great way to gauge if it has momentum, since this can reflect both the current interest in a stock and if buyers or sellers have the upper hand at the moment. 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 NTRA, shares are up 26.89% over the past week while the Zacks Medical Services 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 32.01% compares favorably with the industry's 0.84% performance as well.

While any stock can see its price increase, it takes a real winner to consistently beat the market. That is why looking at longer term price metrics -- such as performance over the past three months or year -- can be useful as well. Shares of Natera have increased 53.76% over the past quarter, and have gained 53.84% in the last year. In comparison, the S&P 500 has only moved 12.18% and 31.71%, respectively.

Investors should also take note of NTRA'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, NTRA is averaging 1,365,157 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 NTRA.

Over the past two months, 3 earnings estimates moved higher compared to none lower for the full year. These revisions helped boost NTRA's consensus estimate, increasing from -$2.73 to -$2.52 in the past 60 days. Looking at the next fiscal year, 2 estimates have moved upwards while there have been no downward revisions in the same time period.

Bottom Line

Taking into account all of these elements, it should come as no surprise that NTRA is a #2 (Buy) stock with a Momentum Score of A. If you've been searching for a fresh pick that's set to rise in the near-term, make sure to keep Natera 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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