How Do Analysts Use Their Earnings Forecasts in Generating Stock Recommendations?
Posted: 2 Mar 2004
This paper examines whether valuation estimates based on analysts' earnings forecasts are consistent with their stock recommendations. Because earnings forecasts are linked to value and recommendations reflect analysts' opinions of value relative to current price, earnings forecasts and stock recommendations should be linked in a predictable manner. I consider four possible valuation models of how earnings forecasts and stock recommendations are linked. These models include two specifications of the residual income model, a price-earnings to growth (PEG) model, and analysts' projections of long-term earnings growth. The results provide little evidence that analysts' recommendations are explained by either residual income model specification. However, both the PEG model and analysts' projections of long-term earnings growth explain analysts' stock recommendations. The relation between the valuation models and future returns is also examined. Analysts' projections of long-term earnings growth have the greatest explanatory power for stock recommendations, but investment strategies based on these projections have the least association with future excess returns. Overall, the evidence suggests that analysts' recommendations are more correlated with heuristic valuation models than with present value models, and buy-and-hold investors would earn higher returns relying on present value models that incorporate analysts' earnings forecasts than on analysts' recommendations.
Keywords: Stock recommendations, Earnings forecasts, Valuation, Residual income model, PEG, Earnings growth
JEL Classification: G12, G24, G29, M41, J44
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