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

    Who Wins With Low Energy Prices? 

    Low oil prices are here to stay for some time. Which economies will benefit or lose from the low oil price regime?
  2. Stock Analysis

    Net Neutrality: Pros and Cons

    The fight over net neutrality has become an amazing spectacle. But at its core, it's yet another skirmish in cable television's war to remain relevant.
  3. Savings

    Do Natural Gas Prices Always Follow Oil Trends?

    Prices for oil and natural gas are highly correlated. But investors should be aware of different factors affecting the prices of these commodities.
  4. Entrepreneurship

    Top 10 Side Jobs You Could Start Now

    Ways to make extra cash in your spare time.
  5. Personal Finance

    A Day in the Life of an Equity Research Analyst

    What does an equity research analyst do on an everyday basis?
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged

    Find out about the PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged ETF, and learn detailed information about characteristics, suitability and recommendations of it.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: ProShares Large Cap Core Plus

    Learn information about the ProShares Large Cap Core Plus ETF, and explore detailed analysis of its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Core Growth Allocation

    Find out about the iShares Core Growth Allocation Fund, and learn detailed information about its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility

    Learn about the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility exchange-traded fund, which invests in low-volatility equities traded on the U.S. stock market.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Should You Follow Millionaires into This Sector?

    Millionaire investors—and those who follow them—should take another look at the current economic situation before making any more investment decisions.
  1. Equity

    The value of an asset less the value of all liabilities on that ...
  2. Hard-To-Sell Asset

    An asset that is extremely difficult to dispose of either due ...
  3. Sucker Yield

    When an investor has essentially risked all of his capital for ...
  4. Benchmark Crude Oil

    Benchmark crude oil is crude oil that serves as a pricing reference, ...
  5. PT (Perseroan Terbatas)

    An acronym for Perseroan Terbatas, which is Limited Liability ...
  6. Ltd. (Limited)

    An abbreviation of "limited," Ltd. is a suffix that ...
  1. 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 >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. 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 >>
  5. 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 >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... 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!