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Zacks

Here's Why Marathon Oil (MRO) is a Strong Value Stock

For new and old investors, taking full advantage of the stock market and investing with confidence are common goals. Zacks Premium provides lots of different ways to do both.

Featuring 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, the research service can help you become a smarter, more self-assured investor.

Zacks Premium includes access to the Zacks Style Scores as well.

What are the Zacks Style Scores?

The Zacks Style Scores is a unique set of guidelines that rates stocks based on three popular investing types, and were developed as complementary indicators for the Zacks Rank. This combination helps investors choose securities with the highest chances of beating the market over the next 30 days.

Each stock is given an alphabetic rating of A, B, C, D or F based on their value, growth, and momentum qualities. With this system, an A is better than a B, a B is better than a C, and so on, meaning the better the score, the better chance the stock will outperform.

The Style Scores are broken down into four categories:

Value Score

Value investors love finding good stocks at good prices, especially before the broader market catches on to a stock's true value. Utilizing ratios like P/E, PEG, Price/Sales, Price/Cash Flow, and many other multiples, the Value Style Score identifies the most attractive and most discounted stocks.

Growth Score

While good value is important, growth investors are more focused on a company's financial strength and health, and its future outlook. The Growth Style Score takes projected and historic earnings, sales, and cash flow into account to uncover stocks that will see long-term, sustainable growth.

Momentum Score

Momentum trading is all about taking advantage of upward or downward trends in a stock's price or earnings outlook, and these investors live by the saying "the trend is your friend." The Momentum Style Score can pinpoint good times to build a position in a stock, using factors like one-week price change and the monthly percentage change in earnings estimates.

VGM Score

If you like to use all three kinds of investing, then the VGM Score is for you. It's a combination of all Style Scores, and is an important indicator to use with the Zacks Rank. The VGM Score rates each stock on their shared weighted styles, narrowing down the companies with the most attractive value, best growth forecast, and most promising momentum.

How Style Scores Work with the Zacks Rank

A proprietary stock-rating model, the Zacks Rank utilizes the power of earnings estimate revisions, or changes to a company's earnings outlook, to help investors create a successful portfolio.

#1 (Strong Buy) stocks have produced an unmatched +25.41% average annual return since 1988, which is more than double the S&P 500's performance over the same time frame. However, the Zacks Rank examines a ton of stocks, and there can be more than 200 companies with a Strong Buy rank, and another 600 with a #2 (Buy) rank, on any given day.

This totals more than 800 top-rated stocks, and it can be overwhelming to try and pick the best stocks for you and your portfolio.

That's where the Style Scores come in.

To maximize your returns, you want to buy stocks with the highest probability of success. This means picking stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 or #2 that also have Style Scores of A or B. If you find yourself looking at stocks with a #3 (Hold) rank, make sure they have Scores of A or B as well to ensure as much upside potential as possible.

The direction of a stock's earnings estimate revisions should always be a key factor when choosing which stocks to buy, since the Scores were created to work together with the Zacks Rank.

Here's an example: a stock with a #4 (Sell) or #5 (Strong Sell) rating, even one with Style Scores of A and B, still has a downward-trending earnings outlook, and a bigger chance its share price will decrease too.

Thus, the more stocks you own with a #1 or #2 Rank and Scores of A or B, the better.

Stock to Watch: Marathon Oil (MRO)

Incorporated in 2001, Houston, Texas-based Marathon Oil Corporation is a leading oil and natural gas exploration and production (‘E&P’) company with operations in the United States and Africa. As of the end of 2020, Marathon Oil had approximately 972 million oil-equivalent barrels in net proved reserves (52% crude oil/condensate and 69% proved developed) and 86% was located in U.S. In 2020, the company’s overall production from continuing operations was 383,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day. Approximately 80% of Marathon Oil’s 2020 volumes came from the U.S.

MRO is a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank, with a VGM Score of B.

It also boasts a Value Style Score of B thanks to attractive valuation metrics like a forward P/E ratio of 14.57; value investors should take notice.

Five analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.03 to $1.08 per share. MRO boasts an average earnings surprise of 30.9%.

With a solid Zacks Rank and top-tier Value and VGM Style Scores, MRO should be on investors' short list.


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