Wall Street analysts have the ability to provide stock ratings for companies that they track. Based on analysts used by Zacks Research, the present average broker rating on shares of Belden Inc (NYSE:BDC) is currently 1.86. This mean rating includes analysts who have offered Sell, Buy and Hold ratings on the equity. This rating lands on a numerical recommendation scale from 1 to 5. A score of 1 would represent a Buy recommendation, and a score of 5 would indicate a Sell recommendation. Out of all the analysts providing ratings, 4 have rated the stock a Strong Buy or Buy, based on data provided by Zacks Research. 

Defining specific goals and creating an overall stock trading strategy can be a big help for the individual investor. Some investors are only interested in buy and hold strategies, while others will opt to try and capitalize on short-term market movements. Investors may also decide to do a little bit of both. They may choose a selection of stocks that they plan on holding for a long time, and they may choose others that they plan on holding for only a short period of time. Whichever way the investor decides to go, they should be prepared to complete all the research. Whether they want to study the fundamentals, technicals, or both, finding quality stocks may be at the forefront of the search.

Zooming in on recent stock price action for Belden Inc (NYSE:BDC), we note that shares are trading near the 48.69 level. Investors will often follow stock price levels in relation to the 52-week high and low levels. The 52-week high is presently 87, and the 52-week low is sitting at 38.68. 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 -24.21%. Heading further back to the start of the year, we note that shares have seen a change of 16.57%. Focusing in closer to the last 4 weeks, shares have seen a change of 6.43%. Over the past five trading days, the stock has changed 15.98%.

Sell-side Wall Street analysts will commonly offer stock price target estimates. Many investors pay close attention to where the analysts project the stock moving in the future. After a recent scan, we can see that analysts polled by Zacks Research have set a consensus price target of $60 on shares of Belden Inc (NYSE:BDC). Price target estimates can be calculated using various methods, and they may be quite different depending on the individual analyst. A fully researched analyst report will generally provide detailed reasoning for a specific target price prediction. Some investors may track analyst targets very closely and use the information to complement their own stock research.

Taking a quick look at the current quarter EPS consensus estimate for Belden Inc (NYSE:BDC), we can see that the most recent level is sitting at 1.39. This EPS projection uses 3 Sell-Side analysts polled by Zacks Research. For the previous reported quarter, the company posted a quarterly EPS of 1.72. 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.

Individual investors are constantly hearing about the next hot stock to buy. Acting purely on these types of tips can be hazardous to the portfolio if the research is not completed. Sometimes these stock tips will pan out and be correct, other times they can leave the investor wondering why they acted on the speculative advice. Even if a stock tip is correct, the results may have already been manifested and the investor would simply be getting in way too late. Knowing what information is reliable can drastically improve the chances of making smarter stock picks. Even the most praised stocks may not be able to withstand an overall market downturn.   

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