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 Columbia Banking System, Inc. (NASDAQ:COLB) is currently 2.17. 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, 3 have rated the stock a Strong Buy or Buy, based on data provided by Zacks Research. 

Many new traders will jump right into the market without any concrete plan. They may be highly optimistic, but will soon realize that it takes more than optimism to secure profits in the stock market. Successful traders are usually good at having a backup plan for every trade. This may seem unnecessary to some, but when the harsh reality of a losing trade comes into the picture, it can be hard to rebound after taking a big hit. Rushing into trades to try and cover recent losses may also leave the trader on the outside looking in. Taking a rationalized approach may help the trader ride out the bumpy patches when they inevitably come.  

Zooming in on recent stock price action for Columbia Banking System, Inc. (NASDAQ:COLB), we note that shares are trading near the 35.31 level. Investors will often follow stock price levels in relation to the 52-week high and low levels. The 52-week high is presently 44.78, and the 52-week low is sitting at 30.94. 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 -7.2%. Heading further back to the start of the year, we note that shares have seen a change of -2.7%. Focusing in closer to the last 4 weeks, shares have seen a change of -0.54%. Over the past five trading days, the stock has changed 1.9%.

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 $40.33 on shares of Columbia Banking System, Inc. (NASDAQ:COLB). 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 Columbia Banking System, Inc. (NASDAQ:COLB), we can see that the most recent level is sitting at 0.63. This EPS projection uses 3 Sell-Side analysts polled by Zacks Research. For the previous reported quarter, the company posted a quarterly EPS of 0.62. 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.

Investors may be looking at all the different factors that come into play when searching for those next stocks to add to the portfolio. Maybe there are some names that have been on the radar, but the timing hasn’t been right to add them into the mix. As we get closer to the end of the year, investors may be looking back at individual stock performance over the past year. They may discover some great opportunities that weren’t available during the last review. Investors may also be keeping an eye on which sectors were the big winners during the latest earnings season. Branching out into new areas may help give the investor some alternative ideas for the next few quarters.