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.
The service also includes the Focus List, which is a long-term portfolio of top stocks that boast a winning, market-beating combination of growth and momentum qualities.
Breaking Down the Zacks Focus List
If you could get access to a curated list of stocks to kickstart your investment portfolio, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to take a peek?
That’s what the Zacks Focus List, a portfolio of 50 stocks, offers investors. Not only does it serve as a starting point for long-term investors, but all stocks included in the list are poised to outperform the market over the next 12 months.
What makes the Focus List even more helpful is that each selection is accompanied by a full Zacks Analyst Report, which explains the reasoning behind every stock’s selection 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.
Stocks that receive upward earnings estimate revisions are more likely to receive even more upward changes in the future. For example, if an analyst raised their estimates last month, they’re more likely to do it again this month, and other analysts are likely to do the same.
Utilizing the power of earnings estimate revisions is when the Zacks Rank joins the party. A unique, proprietary stock-rating model, the Zacks Rank uses changes to quarterly earnings expectations to help investors create 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: Ulta Beauty (ULTA)
Bolingbrook, IL-based, Ulta Beauty Inc., previously known as Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc., is a leading beauty retailer in the United States. Founded in 1990, the company changed its name to Ulta Beauty in January 2017.
Since being added to the Focus List on March 25, 2020 at $177.59 per share, shares of ULTA have increased 133.04% to $413.86. The stock is currently a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks Rank.
For fiscal 2022, four analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days, and the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.05 to $15.06. ULTA boasts an average earnings surprise of 63.9%.
Additionally, ULTA’s earnings are expected to grow 223.2% for the current fiscal year.
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