We use a simple k-nearest neighbors algorithm (hereafter, k-NN*) to forecast earnings. k-NN* forecasts of one-, two-, and three-year-ahead earnings are more accurate than those generated by popular extant forecasting approaches. k-NN* forecasts of two- and three-year (one-year)-ahead EPS and aggregate three-year EPS are more (less) accurate than those generated by analysts. The association between the unexpected earnings implied by k-NN* and the contemporaneous market-adjusted return (i.e., the earnings association coefficient (EAC)) is positive and exceeds the EAC on unexpected earnings implied by alternate approaches. A trading strategy that is long (short) firms for which k-NN* predicts positive (negative) earnings growth earns positive risk-adjusted returns that exceed those earned by similar trading strategies that are based on alternate forecasts. The k-NN* algorithm generates an empirically reliable ex ante indicator of forecast accuracy that identifies situations when the k-NN* EAC is larger and the k-NN* trading strategy is more profitable.
Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources described in the text.
JEL Classifications: C21; C53; G17; M41.