We are receiving a lot of questions from subscribers regarding how often our forecasting data is updated. As you hopefully all know, we receive our consensus analyst estimates directly from our data provider FactSet, which gathers them from various reliable sources. Importantly, we download our estimate data daily. Subscribers should know that within a 24 to 48-hour maximum timeframe, you are seeing the most current estimates available on FAST Graphs.
However, we must also realistically recognize that the estimate data we are currently seeing was likely, or at least for the most part, issued prior to the coronavirus crisis. Clearly, there is going to be near term to intermediate term fallout as a result of the mandated shutdown of most businesses and industries. We would further suggest that no one, and certainly this applies to analysts, can currently provide any clear guidance or information as to what the extent of the economic damage might be. However, we are confident that analysts everywhere are doing their best to update their forecasts as quickly as possible.
We should also recognize that until the situation clarifies, we should not be making decisions based on estimates that were made prior to the crisis. However, FAST Graphs’ subscribers do have the option of utilizing the “Custom” calculator where they can manually input their own estimates. Understanding that many of you may not feel confident that you can make accurate forecasts, you at least can apply rough estimates that would allow you to run different “what if” scenarios.
Remember that you can utilize the “External Links” drop-down where you can access estimate data from numerous other financial sites. Normally, you can utilize these various services to help you identify reasonable estimates and compare them to what you see on our research tool. I personally do this often and can tell you that the numbers are generally in close alignment from service to service with what is shown on your FAST Graphs.
These include but are not limited to the Wall Street Journal, Seeking Alpha, and Yahoo Finance. (Note: some of these sites do require a subscription to access estimate data.) Additionally, if you have access to any other estimate data, you can input it to your “Custom” forecasting calculator to help you make more current or relevant decisions.
We want to stress that this is not an issue unique to FAST Graphs, but from all sources providing estimates. This issue does not diminish the value of FAST Graphs in any way. FAST Graphs can still be utilized to effectively find good companies with excellent operating histories and low debt that will most likely be better investment vehicles during and after this crisis.
Finally, once analysts have clarity on the situation, we believe that you will once again be able to effectively utilize the forecasting calculators based on then current and updated estimate data. Please keep in mind that forecasts are rarely perfectly accurate. This is the reason and purpose of the Analyst Scorecard, because estimate accuracy is highly important in determining whether or not analysts can predict the future of the company.