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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.

One of our most popular services, Zacks Premium offers 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. All are useful tools to find what stocks to buy, what to sell, and what are today’s hottest industries.

Also included in Zacks Premium is the Focus List. This is a long-term portfolio of top stocks that have all the traits 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, 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.

Investors also need to look at what a company will earn down the road. 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, which is a unique, proprietary stock-rating model, employs earnings estimate revisions to make it easier to 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.

Since stock prices respond to revisions, it can be very profitable to buy stocks with rising earnings estimates. By buying Focus List stocks, then, you’re likely getting into companies whose future earnings estimates will be raised, potentially leading to price momentum.

Focus List Spotlight: Walmart (WMT)

Walmart Inc. has evolved from just being a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer into an omnichannel player. In this regard, acquisitions of Bonobos, Moosejaw and Parcel; partnership with Shopify and Goldman Sachs; delivery programs like Walmart + and Express Delivery; and investment in online e-commerce platform Flipkart are noteworthy. These position the company to keep pace with the changing retail ecosystem and stay firm in the presence of rivals like Amazon and Target. Markedly, Walmart’s product offerings include almost everything from grocery to cosmetics, electronics to stationery, home furnishings to health and wellness products, and apparel to entertainment products, to name a few.

On May 30, 2017, WMT was added to the Focus List at $78.13 per share. Shares have increased 91.03% to $149.25 since then, and the company is a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank.

14 analysts revised their earnings estimate higher in the last 60 days for fiscal 2022, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.38 to $6.33. WMT also boasts an average earnings surprise of 14.3%.

Earnings for WMT are forecasted to see growth of 15.5% for the current fiscal year as well.

Reveal Winning Stocks

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