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?
Before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage, let’s see what these Wall Street heavyweights think about ConocoPhillips (COP).
ConocoPhillips currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.68, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by 19 brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.68 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.
Of the 19 recommendations that derive the current ABR, 13 are Strong Buy and one is Buy. Strong Buy and Buy respectively account for 68.4% and 5.3% of all recommendations.
Brokerage Recommendation Trends for COP
Check price target & stock forecast for ConocoPhillips here>>>
While the ABR calls for buying ConocoPhillips, it may not be wise to make an investment decision solely based on this information. Several studies have shown limited to no success of brokerage recommendations in guiding investors to pick stocks with the best price increase potential.
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.
This means that the interests of these institutions are not always aligned with those of retail investors, giving little insight into the direction of a stock’s future price movement. It would therefore be best to use this information to validate your own analysis or a tool that has proven to be highly effective at predicting stock price movements.
With an impressive externally audited track record, our proprietary stock rating tool, the Zacks Rank, which classifies stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), is a reliable indicator of a stock’s near -term price performance. So, validating the Zacks Rank with ABR could go a long way in 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.
The ABR is calculated solely based on brokerage recommendations and is typically displayed with decimals (example: 1.28). In contrast, the Zacks Rank is a quantitative model allowing investors to harness the power of earnings estimate revisions. It is displayed in whole numbers — 1 to 5.
Analysts employed by brokerage firms have been and continue to be overly optimistic with their recommendations. Since the ratings issued by these analysts are more favorable than their research would support because of the vested interest of their employers, they mislead investors far more often than they guide.
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.
In addition, the different Zacks Rank grades are applied proportionately to all stocks for which brokerage analysts provide current-year earnings estimates. In other words, this tool always maintains a balance among its five ranks.
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 COP Worth Investing In?
Looking at the earnings estimate revisions for ConocoPhillips, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has declined 7.8% over the past month to $11.44.
Analysts’ growing pessimism over the company’s earnings prospects, as indicated by strong agreement among them in revising EPS estimates lower, could be a legitimate reason for the stock to plunge 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 #5 (Strong Sell) for ConocoPhillips. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>
Therefore, it could be wise to take the Buy-equivalent ABR for ConocoPhillips with a grain of salt.