The bad news is, Standard & Poor's (S&P) is starting to reel in earnings estimates - in earnest - for the next four quarters, and there are more downward revisions than upward ones. The good news is, that makes the few stocks with upward revisions really, really stand out in a bullish light. Here's a run-down of the noteworthy upwardly-revised estimates through the third quarter (Q3) of 2012.

Investopedia Markets: Explore the best one-stop source for financial news, quotes and insights.

Tesoro Corp. (NYSE:TSO)
In spite of the recent plunge in crude oil prices, S&P still says independent refiner and marketer Tesoro deserves more respect, and it deserves it immediately. Its 2011 Q3 earnings estimate has been upped from $1.52 to $1.59, which was the biggest increase posted in the latest (October 4th) update. However, it doesn't stop there. S&P had previously expected the company to earn $4.13 per share between Q3 of this year and Q2 of next year. All told, the new figure is $4.31. We'll get the official Q3 numbers on November 2; estimates for which have not been updated with most sources at the time of its publication. (For related reading on S&P, see The Biggest S&P Missteps.)

Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE:CSC)
If Tesoro "won" the upward revision award, then Computer Sciences Corp. is a close runner-up. Forecasters are now looking for earnings of 71 cents per share for its Q3 instead of the original 68 cents (All told, earnings for the next four reported quarters should total $4.52 rather than the initial expectation of $4.20.)

Considering this IT service provider (mostly for government agencies) has been a steady earnings machine in good times and bad, the upward revision against the backdrop of a forward P/E of 5.9 may end up being a catalyst for a heavily beaten-down stock.

Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO)
Tesoro wasn't the only energy company name S&P warmed up to recently. There's something about Marathon Oil the ratings and research firm likes as well ... at least for a while.

S&P actually upped its earnings outlook for Marathon for Q3 and Q4 of 2011, from a total of $3.97 per share to $4.05. With sub-5 price-to-earnings ratios on a trailing and projected basis, though, even falling short of a lower target wouldn't make the stock not "worth it." (For related reading, see A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.)

Hartford Financial Services (NYSE:HIG)
Finally, a picture of contradiction, S&P upped its earnings outlook for Hartford Financial Services for three of the next four quarters on the same day the stock hit new 52-week lows. Though the nature of its business (insurance), and ongoing claims from hurricane Irene, have kept the earnings outlook in constant motion of late, S&P's calls are usually definitive. So, while the numbers mean little, the improved outlook means a great deal.

The Bottom Line
Broadly speaking, about 75% of the revised estimates posted on Tuesday were downward revisions, making the few upward revisions precious ones to say the least. S&P may have just shortened the buy list by a great deal.

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Bank Stocks: Time to Buy or Avoid? (WFC, JPM, C)

    Bank stocks have been pounded. Is this the right time to buy or should they be avoided?
  2. Stock Analysis

    Why the Bullish Are Turning Bearish

    Banks are reducing their targets for the S&P 500 for 2016. Here's why.
  3. Stock Analysis

    How to Find Quality Stocks Amid the Wreckage

    Finding companies with good earnings and hitting on all cylinders in this environment, although possible, is not easy.
  4. Budgeting

    5 Alternatives to Traditional Health Insurance

    Discover five of the most popular alternatives to traditional health insurance plans, alternatives that are increasingly popular as health insurance costs rise.
  5. Stock Analysis

    The Top 5 Platinum Penny Stocks for 2016 (PLG, XPL)

    Examine five penny stocks in the platinum mining business that investors may wish to consider adding to their investment portfolios for 2016.
  6. Investing News

    What You Can Learn from Carl Icahn's Mistakes

    Carl Icahn has been a stellar performer in the investment world for decades, but following his lead these days could be dangerous.
  7. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    4 Predictions for Oil in 2016

    Learn four predictions for oil markets in 2016 including where prices are heading and the key fundamental factors driving the market.
  9. Investing News

    Icahn's Bet on Cheniere Energy: Should You Follow?

    Investing legend Carl Icahn continues to lose money on Cheniere Energy, but he's increasing his stake. Should you follow his lead?
  10. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Google's Return on Equity (ROE) (GOOGL)

    Learn about Alphabet's return on equity. How has its ROE changed over time, how does it compare to its peers and what factors are driving ROE for the company?
RELATED FAQS
  1. How can insurance companies find out about DUIs and DWIs?

    An insurance company can find out about driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges against ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center