When deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold a stock, investors often rely on analyst recommendations. Media reports about rating changes by these brokerage-firm-employed (or sell-side) analysts often influence a stock's price, but are they really important?
Let's take a look at what these Wall Street heavyweights have to say about MercadoLibre (MELI) before we discuss the reliability of brokerage recommendations and how to use them to your advantage.
MercadoLibre currently has an average brokerage recommendation (ABR) of 1.69, on a scale of 1 to 5 (Strong Buy to Strong Sell), calculated based on the actual recommendations (Buy, Hold, Sell, etc.) made by eight brokerage firms. An ABR of 1.69 approximates between Strong Buy and Buy.
Of the eight recommendations that derive the current ABR, five are Strong Buy, representing 62.5% of all recommendations.
Brokerage Recommendation Trends for MELI
Check price target & stock forecast for MercadoLibre here>>>
While the ABR calls for buying MercadoLibre, 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.
In other words, their interests aren't always aligned with retail investors, rarely indicating where the price of a stock could actually be heading. Therefore, the best use of this information could be validating your own research or an indicator that has proven to be highly successful in predicting a stock's price movement.
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
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.
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 MELI?
In terms of earnings estimate revisions for MercadoLibre, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has increased 7.2% over the past month to $16.68.
Analysts' growing optimism over the company's earnings prospects, as indicated by strong agreement among them in revising EPS estimates higher, could be a legitimate reason for the stock to soar 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 #1 (Strong Buy) for MercadoLibre. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>>
Therefore, the Buy-equivalent ABR for MercadoLibre may serve as a useful guide for investors.
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