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Earnings Growth & Price Strength Make HCA Healthcare (HCA) a Stock to Watch

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.

The Zacks Premium service, which provides 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, makes these more manageable goals. All of the features can help you identify what stocks to buy, what to sell, and what are today's hottest industries.

The service also includes the Focus List, which is a long-term portfolio of top stocks that boast a winning, market-beating combination of growth and momentum qualities.

Breaking Down the Zacks Focus List

If you could get access to a curated list of stocks to kickstart your investment portfolio, wouldn't you jump at the chance to take a peek?

Enter the Zacks Focus List. It's a portfolio made up of 50 stocks that are set to beat the market over the next 12 months; each company selected serves as a foundation for long-term investors looking to create an individual portfolio.

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.

Brokerage analysts are in charge of determining a company's growth and profitability expectations, or earnings estimates. These analysts work together with company management to evaluate all factors 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.

When a stock receives upward earnings estimate revisions, it will likely get even more positive changes in the future. For instance, if an analyst raised their earnings outlook 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.

The Zacks Rank consists of four main pillars: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise. Each one is given a raw score, which is recalculated every night and compiled into the Rank. Then, stocks are classified into five groups, ranging from "Strong Buy" to "Strong Sell," using this data.

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.

It can be very profitable to buy stocks with rising earnings estimates, as stock prices respond to revisions. By adding Focus List stocks, there's a great chance you'll be getting into companies whose future earnings estimates will be raised, which can lead to price momentum.

Focus List Spotlight: HCA Healthcare (HCA)

Effective May 8, 2017, the company’s name was changed to HCA Healthcare, Inc.  from HCA Holdings, Inc. It is the largest non-governmental operator of acute care hospitals in the U.S. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, it operates hospitals and related health care entities.

Since being added to the Focus List on January 7, 2019 at $123.39 per share, shares of HCA have increased 108.04% to $256.70. The stock is currently a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank.

10 analysts revised their earnings estimate higher in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $2.63 to $16.78. HCA also boasts an average earnings surprise of 11.7%.

Earnings for HCA are forecasted to see growth of 53.5% for the current fiscal year as well.

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HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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