Analysts often provide buy/sell/hold recommendations for companies that they cover. Investors have the ability to follow these sell-side ratings in order to assist with stock analysis. Wall Street analyst ratings may have various interpretations. According to analysts taken into consideration by Zacks Research, the current average broker recommendation on shares of Legg Mason, Inc. (NYSE:LM) is currently 2.48. This rating lands on a scale between 1 and 5. Following this scale, a rating of 1 would indicate a Strong Buy, and a rating of 5 would indicate a Strong Sell recommendation. Out of all the analysts providing ratings, 4 have rated the stock a Strong Buy or Buy, according to Zacks Research. 

Investors who are able to wipe the slate clean and take a fresh look at a certain stock may be able to make more informed decisions that will hopefully lead to increased profits in the long-term. Figuring out when to sell an underperforming stock may end up being just as important as figuring out which stocks to buy. As the stock market continues to trade near record levels, investors will be closely following trading action heading into the latter half of the year. With many stocks reaching new highs, investors may need to make sure that they aren’t getting too overconfident with trades. When a few winning trades are strung together, investors may feel like they have the Midas touch and they can do no wrong. Nobody knows for sure how long stocks will stay in favor with investors. Keeping track of the portfolio’s contents can help when quick decisions need to be made. There may come a time when the tide turns and making a winning trade may seem impossible. Investors might want to have a plan in place in case of a sudden major market downturn. Keeping the portfolio stable during periods of market uncertainty may help prepare for unforeseen events in the future. Although there are many market enthusiasts that think the bull run may be on its last legs, there are just as many who believe that the best is yet to come, and there is much more room for stocks to climb.

Taking a quick look at the current quarter EPS consensus estimate for Legg Mason, Inc. (NYSE:LM), we can see that the most recent level is sitting at 0.73. This EPS projection uses 6 Sell-Side analysts polled by Zacks Research. For the previous reported quarter, the company posted a quarterly EPS of 1.01. Covering analysts have the tough job of following companies and offering future estimates. These estimates are often closely followed on the Street, and earnings beats or misses revolve around these projections. Sometimes these predictions are extremely close to the actual reported number, and other times they may be way off. When a company posts actual earnings numbers, the surprise factor can lead to sudden stock price fluctuations. If a company meets and beats estimates and posts a positive earnings surprise, the stock may see a near-term bump. On the other end, a negative surprise may send the stock in the opposite direction. Many investors will choose to trade with caution around earnings releases and wait to make a move until after the major activity has subsided.

Zooming in on recent stock price action for Legg Mason, Inc. (NYSE:LM), we note that shares are trading near the 41.34 level. Investors will often follow stock price levels in relation to the 52-week high and low levels. The 52-week high is presently 46.14, and the 52-week low is sitting at 34.71. When a stock price is getting close to either the 52-week high or 52-week low, investors may track activity to watch for a move past the established mark. Over the last 12 weeks, shares have seen a change of 3.35%. Heading further back to the start of the year, we note that shares have seen a change of -1.52%. Focusing in closer to the last 4 weeks, shares have seen a change of 9.39%. Over the past five trading days, the stock has changed 6.16%.

Serious investors are often looking for that next batch of quality stocks to add to the portfolio. Finding quality stocks at a discount can be a tough task, especially with the market trading at such high levels. Many investors will be patiently waiting for a dip to get in on some researched names. Being prepared for any situation may help the investor make those tricky decisions when opportunities present themselves. Nobody can say for sure which way momentum is likely to swing heading into the New Year. Staying on top of the key economic data can help provide a good baseline for stock investing decisions in the near future.

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