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Zacks.com featured highlights: Diamondback Energy, Burlington Stores, Morgan Stanley, Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital and Veeva Systems

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 28, 2016 - Stocks in this week's article include Diamondback Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FANG - Free Report ), Burlington Stores Inc. (NYSE: BURL - Free Report ), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS - Free Report ), Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital Inc. (NYSE: HASI - Free Report ) and Veeva Systems Inc. (NYSE: VEEV - Free Report ).

Screen of the Week of Zacks Investment Research:

5 Top-Ranked Stocks Poised to Beat Earnings Estimates

What drives shares or pulls them down after a company comes up with quarterly earnings? It's not exactly how well a company performs in the recently concluded quarter or exhibits strong growth; it is an earnings beat or a miss which drives the market post release.

Investors always intend to take position ahead of time and fish for stocks that are likely to come up with an astounding performance. After much deliberation, Wall Street analysts forecast earnings of companies. These estimates act as investment leads.

The Importance of an Earnings Beat

A positive earnings surprise or an earnings beat is typically the case when actual or reported earnings come in above the consensus estimate. Historically, if a company's earnings manage to beat market expectations, its stock surges post release.

After all, a 20% earnings rise (though it looks good apparently) doesn't tell you if it is a decelerating growth momentum. If that is the case, the company's fundamentals are in serious question.

Also, seasonal fluctuations are a vital factor in determining a company's earnings growth. If a company's Q1 is seasonally weak and its Q4 is strong, then it is likely to report a sequential decline in earnings in Q1. In such cases, the growth rates are fallacious when it comes to analyzing the true picture of a company.

On the other hand, Wall Street analysts club their insights and the company's guidance to derive an earnings estimate. Thus, beating this key number is almost equivalent to beating the company's own expectation as well as the market perception. And if the margin of surprise is big, it typically drives the stock higher right after the release.

How to Find Stocks that Can Beat?

Now, since it is difficult to foretell if a company will beat or miss in the upcoming earnings season, investors can check its earnings surprise history. An impressive track record generally acts as a tailwind, sending the stock higher. It indicates that the company might surpass estimates even in its next release.

The Winning Strategy

In order to shortlist stocks that are likely to come up with an earnings surprise, we chose the followingas our primary screening parameters.

Last EPS Surprise greater than or equal to 10%: Stocks that delivered a positive surprise in the last quarter are likely to surprise again.

Average EPS Surprise in the last four quarters greater than 20%: We lifted the bar for outperformance slightly higher by setting the average earnings surprise for the last four quarters at 20%.

Average EPS Surprise in the last two quarters greater than 20%: This points to a more consistent surprise history and makes the case for another surprise even stronger.

In addition, we place a few other criteria that push up the chance of a positive surprise.

Zacks Rank less than equal to 2: Only companies with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) rating can get through.

Earnings ESPgreater than zero: A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 (Hold) for an earnings beat to happen, as per our proven model.

In order to zero in on those that have long-term growth potential and high trading liquidity we have added the following parameters too:

Next 3-5 Years Estimated EPS Growth (Per Year) greater than 10%: Solid expected earnings growth exhibits the stock's long-term growth prospects.

Average 20-day Volume greater than 100,000: High trading volume implies that the stock has adequate liquidity.

A handful of criteria narrowed down the universe from over 7,700 stocks to 12.

Here are five out of the 12 stocks:

Diamondback Energy Inc.(NASDAQ: FANG - Free Report): This Zacks Rank #2 company is engaged in the exploration and development of unconventional, onshore oil and natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin in West Texas. The Zacks Industry Rank of the stock is in the top 23%.

Burlington Stores Inc. (NYSE: BURL - Free Report ) : It is an off-price apparel and home product retailer, with a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Industry Rank of the stock is in the top 15%. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS - Free Report ) : It is a global financial services firm, with a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Industry Rank of the stock is in the top 14%.

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital Inc. (NYSE: HASI - Free Report ) : This Zacks Rank #2 company is a real estate investment trust. The Zacks Industry Rank of the stock is in the top 21%.

Veeva Systems Inc.(NYSE: VEEV - Free Report) : This Zacks Rank #2 company is a provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life sciences industry. The Zacks Industry Rank of the stock is in the top 26%.

You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.

The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It's easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it's very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.

Click here to sign up for a free trial to the Research Wizard today .

Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.

Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks' portfolios and strategies are available at:https://www.zacks.com/performance.

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Sign up now for your free trial today and start picking better stocks immediately. And with the backtesting feature, you can test your ideas to see how you can improve your trading in both up markets and down markets. Don't wait for the market to get better before you decide to do better. Start learning how to be a better trader today: https://at.zacks.com/?id=111

Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.

About Screen of the Week

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Contact: Jim Giaquinto

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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

DIAMONDBACK EGY (FANG): Free Stock Analysis Report

BURLINGTON STRS (BURL): Free Stock Analysis Report

MORGAN STANLEY (MS): Free Stock Analysis Report

HANNON ARMSTRNG (HASI): Free Stock Analysis Report

VEEVA SYSTEMS-A (VEEV): 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.


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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