Analyst Forecast Momentum

59 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 24 Mar 2017

See all articles by Paul J. Irvine

Paul J. Irvine

Neeley School of Business

Tingting Liu

Iowa State University

Date Written: March 2017


A great number of academic papers evaluate the potential for incentive-driven bias in sell-side analysts' earnings forecasts. Yet bias does not necessarily invalidate a forecast, nor does it impinge on its relative quality. We find that analysts' forecasts are optimistic relative to recently introduced fundamental alternatives. However, analysts' forecasts have lower absolute deviation and the information in their earnings forecasts has predictive value for near-term stock returns. We propose the latter result as a previously unidentified form of earnings momentum. We find that this form of earnings momentum is even stronger for quarterly forecasts than annual forecasts, suggesting that analysts' have particularly strong incentives directed to forecasting quarterly earnings. Investing with optimistic analysts is a rational investment strategy, rather than a misguided one, when the investment horizon is less than one year.

Keywords: Analysts' earnings forecasts, forecast bias, stock returns, earnings momentum

JEL Classification: G10, G11, G14

Suggested Citation

Irvine, Paul J. and Liu, Tingting, Analyst Forecast Momentum (March 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Paul J. Irvine (Contact Author)

Neeley School of Business ( email )

Fort Worth, TX 76129
United States

Tingting Liu

Iowa State University ( email )

2330 Gerdin Business Building
Ames, IA 50011
United States

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