WestRock (WRK) is expected to report lower year-over-year earnings on higher revenue when it reports results for the quarter ending December 2022. This widely known consensus outlook paints a good picture. of the company’s earnings, but how the actual results compare to those estimates is a powerful factor that could affect its stock price in the short term.
The earnings report, which is expected to be released on February 1, 2023, could help the stock rise if these key numbers come in better than expected. On the other hand, if they are missing, the stock may go down.
While management’s discussion of trading conditions on the earnings call will primarily determine the sustainability of the immediate price move and future earnings expectations, it is worth getting a crippling glimpse of the chances of a positive surprise from BPA.
Zacks consensus estimate
This paper and packaging company is expected to post quarterly earnings of $0.60 per share in its next report, representing a year-over-year change of -7.7%.
Revenue is expected to be $5.09 billion, up 2.9% from the prior year quarter.
Trend of estimate revisions
The consensus EPS estimate for the quarter has been revised down 5.14% in the past 30 days from the current level. This essentially reflects how the covering analysts have collectively reassessed their initial estimates over this period.
Investors should keep in mind that the direction of revisions to estimates by each of the covering analysts may not always be reflected in the overall change.
Estimate revisions prior to a company’s earnings release provide clues to business conditions for the period for which the earnings are released. Our proprietary surprise prediction model – the Zacks Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) – is based on this idea.
The Zacks Earnings ESP compares the most accurate estimate to the Zacks consensus estimate for the quarter; the most accurate estimate is a more recent version of Zacks Consensus’ EPS estimate. The idea here is that analysts revising their estimates just before the earnings release have the latest information, which could potentially be more accurate than they and other consensus contributors predicted earlier.
Thus, a positive or negative reading of the ESP on earnings theoretically indicates the likely deviation of actual earnings from the consensus estimate. However, the predictive power of the model is only significant for positive ESP readings.
A positive earnings ESP is a good predictor of an earnings beat, especially when combined with a Zacks rank of #1 (strong buy), 2 (buy), or 3 (hold). Our research shows that stocks with this combination produce a positive surprise almost 70% of the time, and a strong Zacks ranking actually increases the predictive power of Earnings ESP.
Please note that a negative ESP reading on earnings is not indicative of a shortfall. Our research shows that it is difficult to predict an earnings beat with any degree of confidence for stocks with negative ESP readings on earnings and/or a Zacks rating of 4 (sell) or 5 (strong sell).
How have the numbers evolved for WestRock?
For WestRock, the most accurate estimate is lower than the Zacks consensus estimate, suggesting analysts have recently turned bearish on the company’s earnings outlook. This translated into an ESP on revenue of -3.89%.
On the other hand, the stock currently carries a Zacks rank of No. 3.
Thus, this combination makes it difficult to conclusively predict that WestRock will exceed the consensus EPS estimate.
Does the history of the earnings surprise contain a clue?
Analysts often look at how well a company has been able to match consensus estimates in the past while calculating its estimates for future earnings. It is therefore worth taking a look at the surprise history to assess its influence on the number to come.
For the last reported quarter, WestRock was expected to post earnings of $1.40 per share when it actually produced earnings of $1.43, delivering a surprise +2.14%.
Over the past four quarters, the company has beaten consensus EPS estimates four times.
A beat or failure in earnings may not be the only basis for a stock to move higher or lower. Many stocks end up losing ground despite declining earnings due to other factors that disappoint investors. Similarly, unexpected catalysts help a number of stocks gain despite a shortfall.
That said, betting on stocks that are expected to exceed earnings expectations increases the odds of success. That’s why it’s worth checking a company’s ESP earnings and Zacks ranking before it’s quarterly release. Be sure to use our earnings ESP filter to discover the best stocks to buy or sell before they are released.
WestRock doesn’t seem like a compelling candidate to beat earnings. However, investors should also pay attention to other factors to bet on this stock or walk away from it before its results are released.
Results expected from an industry player
Among Zacks Paper and Related Products industry stocks, International Paper (IP) is expected to soon post earnings of $0.69 per share for the quarter ending December 2022. This estimate indicates a 12-month change of -11, 5%. Revenue this quarter is expected to be $5.18 billion, up 1.9% from the prior year quarter.
Over the past 30 days, the consensus EPS estimate for International Paper has been revised down 7.8% to the current level. Nonetheless, the company now has an ESP of -0.83%, reflecting a lower most accurate estimate.
When combined with a Zacks ranking of No. 3 (Hold), this ESP of earnings makes it difficult to conclusively predict that International Paper will exceed the consensus EPS estimate. In the past four quarters, the company has exceeded consensus EPS estimates twice.
Stay on top of upcoming earnings announcements with Zacks Earnings Calendar.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.