3 Stocks Likely to Beat Current Wall Street Earnings Estimates

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With a landslide of earnings about to start for the third quarter, one of the things that Wall Street strategists and pundits will be looking for are solid overall reports. Even more exciting will be the companies that come in above estimates. A recent research report from Jefferies pinpoints some top companies that may be poised to surprise on either current numbers or forward guidance.

Jefferies listed nine companies they think can provide positive surprises or that may have imminent catalysts that could boost shares. We screened the list for the stocks that look like they could present the best upside potential and found three outstanding values.

Anthem

This top health care provider has been mauled since June. Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM) delivers quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With more than 68 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 37 million enrolled in its family of health plans, continued growth is not out of the question with an aging population that is living longer.

Many on Wall Street, including Jefferies, are very positive on the proposed merger with Cigna, which will make the combined company the largest U.S. health insurer by membership. While the Jefferies team has slid some of the third-quarter earnings into the fourth quarter, they are still slightly ahead of current Wall Street estimates. They also believe that opportunity lies in ongoing pharmacy benefit managers negotiations, which represent potential value for the company.

Anthem investors are paid a 1.85% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $188, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is posted at $183.44. The shares closed Wednesday at $139.41.

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EMC

This stock is flat-out cheap, trading at five times enterprise value to EBITDA, and rumors swirled on reports that EMC and Dell are talking about a deal. EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is technology’s large-scale storage leader, but new avenues of flash and other storage opportunities are grinding away at the tech giant’s business. The good news for EMC is that storage demands are accelerating, and the company’s majority ownership of VMware gives it a virtualization infrastructure solutions product that includes a suite of products designed to deliver a software-defined data center run on industry-standard desktop computers and servers.

While activist investors continue to apply pressure, the Jefferies team is very positive on the platform as a service opportunity and believes EMC’s Pivotal could grow to be a significant business. They also think that ultimately the company offers an initial public offering on the stock at a valuation of a whopping $2 billion to $4 billion. They also initiated estimates for 2017 that are above the current Wall Street figures.

EMC shareholders are paid a 1.8% dividend. Jefferies has a $29 price target, near the consensus price target of $29.23. Shares closed Wednesday at $25.96.

Northrop Grumman

This top defense company was ranked as the sixth-largest defense contractor by sales last year. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) provides innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Its Aerospace Systems segment designs, develops, integrates and produces manned aircraft, unmanned systems, spacecraft, high-energy laser systems, microelectronics and other systems and subsystems.

Jefferies sees a huge catalyst in the Long Range Strike Bomber, which the U.S. Air Force is in the final phase of discussion before awarding the contract for the next-generation bomber, and most expect an announcement very soon. The firm sees a giant earnings impact for the company and thinks there will be more upside to the winners of the contract than downside for the losers.

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Northrop Grumman investors are paid a 1.88% dividend. The Jefferies price objective is $180, and the consensus target is $180.29. The stock closed most recently at $171.20.

The Jefferies stocks to buy are spread across multiple sectors and offer growth accounts solid investments for the short and long term.