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. Economics

    The 9 Industries Driving Texas' Economy

    Find out which industries are driving the Texas economy. Learn about the largest and fastest growing employers and producers in Texas.
  2. Stock Analysis

    Will WYNN Continue to Rally?

    Wynn Resorts has experienced a rally recently. Will it remain a good bet?
  3. Stock Analysis

    Don't Be Fooled by the Market's Recent Rally

    The bulls won for a bit in early October, but will bears have the last laugh?
  4. Stock Analysis

    Will Twitter's Stock Find its Wings Soon?

    Twitter is an enigma to many investors, but its story is pretty straightforward.
  5. Investing Basics

    How to Think About Seasonality Trends

    Investors benefit when company research incorporates seasonality trends that predict relative strength and weakness throughout the calendar year.
  6. Chart Advisor

    These 3 Charts Say Now Is Not The Time To Buy Commodities

    Traders are turning their attention to the charts of commodity stocks to get a better idea of the future trend. We'll take a look at three stocks from different segments of the basic materials ...
  7. Stock Analysis

    8 Solid Utility Stocks for a Bear Market

    If you're seeking modest appreciation, generous dividend payments and resiliency, consider these eight utility stocks.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Why Phillips 66 (PSX) is a Solid Long-Term Bet

    Here's why Phillips 66 will likely remain one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies for a long time to come.
  9. Stock Analysis

    3 Resilient Oil Stocks for a Down Market

    Stuck on oil? Take a look at these six stocks—three that present risk vs. three that offer some resiliency.
  10. Economics

    Keep an Eye on These Emerging Economies

    Emerging markets have been hammered lately, but these three countries (and their large and young populations) are worth monitoring.
  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 >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!