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ConocoPhillips (COP) Is Considered a Good Investment by Brokers: Is That True?

Investors often turn to recommendations made by Wall Street analysts before making a Buy, Sell, or Hold decision about a stock. While media reports about rating changes by these brokerage-firm employed (or sell-side) analysts often affect a stock's price, do they really matter?

Let's take a look at what these Wall Street heavyweights have to say about ConocoPhillips (COP) before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage.

ConocoPhillips currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.65, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by 23 brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.65 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.

Of the 23 recommendations that derive the current ABR, 15 are Strong Buy and one is Buy. Strong Buy and Buy respectively account for 65.2% and 4.4% of all recommendations.

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Brokerage Recommendation Trends for COP

Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for COP
Broker Rating Breakdown Chart for COP



Check price target & stock forecast for ConocoPhillips here>>>

The ABR suggests buying ConocoPhillips, but making an investment decision solely on the basis of this information might not be a good idea. According to several studies, brokerage recommendations have little to no success guiding investors to choose stocks with the most potential for price appreciation.

Are you wondering why? The vested interest of brokerage firms in a stock they cover often results in a strong positive bias of their analysts in rating it. Our research shows that for every "Strong Sell" recommendation, brokerage firms assign five "Strong Buy" recommendations.

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.

Zacks Rank, our proprietary stock rating tool with an impressive externally audited track record, categorizes stocks into five groups, ranging from Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), and is an effective indicator of a stock's price performance in the near future. Therefore, using the ABR to validate the Zacks Rank could be an efficient way of making a profitable investment decision.

ABR Should Not Be Confused With Zacks Rank

In spite of the fact that Zacks Rank and ABR both appear on a scale from 1 to 5, they are two completely different measures.

Broker recommendations are the sole basis for calculating the ABR, which is typically displayed in decimals (such as 1.28). The Zacks Rank, on the other hand, is a quantitative model designed to harness the power of earnings estimate revisions. It is displayed in whole numbers -- 1 to 5.

It has been and continues to be the case that analysts employed by brokerage firms are overly optimistic with their recommendations. Because of their employers' vested interests, these analysts issue more favorable ratings than their research would support, misguiding investors far more often than helping them.

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.

Another key difference between the ABR and Zacks Rank is freshness. The ABR is not necessarily up-to-date when you look at it. But, since brokerage analysts keep revising their earnings estimates to account for a company's changing business trends, and their actions get reflected in the Zacks Rank quickly enough, it is always timely in indicating future price movements.

Should You Invest in COP?

In terms of earnings estimate revisions for ConocoPhillips, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has declined 6.6% over the past month to $9.07.

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.

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