New to Investing? This 1 Business Services Stock Could Be the Perfect Starting Point

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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.One of our most popular services, Zacks Premium offers 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. All are useful tools to find what stocks to buy, what to sell, and what are today’s hottest industries.Also included in Zacks Premium is the Focus List. This is a long-term portfolio of top stocks that have all the traits to beat the market.Breaking Down the Zacks Focus ListIf you could, wouldn’t you jump at the chance for access to a curated list of stocks to kickstart your investing journey?That’s what the Zacks Focus List, a portfolio of 50 stocks, offers investors. Not only does it serve as a starting point for long-term investors, but all stocks included in the list are poised to outperform the market over the next 12 months.One thing that makes the Focus List even more advantageous is that each pick comes with a full Zacks Analyst Report. This helps explain why each stock was selected 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 MethodologyWhen stocks are picked for the Focus List, it reflects our enduring reliance on the power of earnings estimate revisions.Earnings estimates, or expectations of growth and profitability, come from brokerage analysts who track publicly traded companies; these analysts work together with company management to analyze every aspect 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.Stocks that receive upward earnings estimate revisions are more likely to receive even more upward changes in the future. For example, if an analyst raised their estimates last month, they’re more likely to do it again this month, and other analysts are likely to do the same.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.Four primary factors make up the Zacks Rank: Agreement, Magnitude, Upside, and Surprise. Each is given a raw score that’s recalculated every night and compiled into the Rank, and with this data, stocks are then classified into five groups, ranging from “Strong Buy” to “Strong Sell.”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.Because stock prices react to revisions, buying stocks with rising earnings estimates can be very profitable. Focus List stocks offer investors a great opportunity to get into companies whose future earnings estimates will be raised, potentially leading to price momentum.Focus List Spotlight: ICF International (ICFI)Headquartered in Fairfax, VA, ICF International, Inc. is a provider of professional services and technology-based solutions to government and commercial clients. The company’s primary services include advisory, analytics, digital, engagement and program implementation services. These services are offered in four markets namely, energy, environment and infrastructure; health, education, and social programs; safety and security, and consumer and financial.ICFI, a #2 (Buy) stock, was added to the Focus List on April 23, 2018 at $66.60 per share. Since then, shares have increased 57.55% to $104.93.Two analysts revised their earnings estimate higher in the last 60 days for fiscal 2021, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.14 to $4.75. ICFI also boasts an average earnings surprise of 23.5%.Earnings for ICFI are forecasted to see growth of 13.9% for the current fiscal year as well.Reveal Winning StocksUnlock all of our powerful research, tools and analysis, including the Zacks #1 Rank List, Equity Research Reports, Zacks Earnings ESP Filter, Premium Screener and more, as part of Zacks Premium. You’ll quickly identify which stocks to buy, hold and sell, and target today’s hottest industries, to help improve the performance of your portfolio. Gain full access now >>Tech IPOs With Massive Profit PotentialIn the past few years, many popular platforms and like Uber and Airbnb finally made their way to the public markets. But the biggest paydays came from lesser-known names.For example, electric carmaker X Peng shot up +299.4% in just 2 months. Think of it this way…If you had put $5,000 into XPEV at its IPO in September 2020, you could have cashed out with $19,970 in November.With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year’s lineup could be even more lucrative.See Zacks Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report ICF International, Inc. (ICFI): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
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