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Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – January 24, 2012 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT - Analyst Report) as the Bull of the Day and NII Holdings, Inc. (NIHD - Analyst Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Lowe’s Companies Inc. (LOW - Analyst Report), Home Depot Inc. (HD - Analyst Report) and St. Jude Medical (STJ - Analyst Report).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT - Analyst Report) posted an impressive third quarter with record EPS of $1.93 and sales of $14.6 billion driven by increased machine demand and continued economic growth. Results were ahead of Zacks Consensus Estimates. With the Bucyrus acquisition, the company is positioned to be the #1 mining equipment manufacturer in the U.S. with a strong footing in China and India, the major mining markets.

Caterpillar's financial position continues to strengthen through the first nine months of the year. Caterpillar's cash flow for the period is an all-time high and better than the company's full-year results so far.

Furthermore, the company's order backlog has steadily increased throughout the year and is at a record level, which holds promise for the year ahead. We upgrade our recommendation from Neutral to Outperform and set a target price of $127.

Bear of the Day:

We downgrade our recommendation on NII Holdings, Inc. (NIHD - Analyst Report) to Underperform backed by our assessment that the company s nightmare will continue in the near future. NII Holdings reported dismal financial results for the third quarter of 2011. Both the top line and bottom line were well below the Zacks Consensus Estimates.

Management has slashed its fiscal 2011 financial outlook, mainly driven by the volatile macro-economic condition coupled with significant depreciation of several Latin American currencies in comparison with U.S. dollars. Moreover, stiff competitive scenarios in Latin American markets are other impediments for such a reduced outlook.

We believe intensifying competition and increased promotional expenses may reduce the company's near-term growth opportunities. We do not find any immediate catalysts and expect NII Holdings to report weak financial results for the company's 4th quarter.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Lowe’s Balancing Act

The growth of home improvement companies is directly proportional to the housing market cycles, which in turn is closely related with the prevailing economic conditions. A tremor at one end obviously makes its rippling effects evident on the other end too.

Remember the subprime crisis, which destabilized the U.S. housing market? Thus Lowe’s Companies Inc. (LOW - Analyst Report), being the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, will have to walk the tight rope.

A Look at Guidance

Lowe’s expects fourth-quarter 2011 earnings in the range of 20 cents to 23 cents a share. For fiscal 2011, management expects earnings between $1.57 and $1.60 per share, excluding charges of 20 cents related to store closings and discontinued operations. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 are 23 cents and $1.61 per share.

Management now expects sales to increase approximately 8% in the fourth quarter and between 2% and 3% in fiscal 2011. Earlier, Lowe’s had forecasted fiscal 2011 sales to increase by approximately 2%. Lowe’s expects comparable-store sales to remain flat or up 1% in the fourth quarter but to decline by 1% in fiscal 2011.

Challenging Economy & Competition

Heavy job losses and reduced access to credit have lead to a sharp fall in consumer discretionary spending on big-ticket items. With the global economic environment still struggling, we believe that spending on big remodeling projects will likely remain under pressure until the housing market stabilizes and consumer-spending rebounds.

Lowe’s in the home improvement retailing business faces stiff competition from The Home Depot Inc. (HD - Analyst Report), Sherwin-Williams Company and other home supply retailers on attributes such as location, price and quality of merchandise, in-stock consistency, merchandise assortments, and customer service. This may weigh upon the company’s results.

St. Just Halts FAME II Enrollment

Medical devices major St. Jude Medical (STJ - Analyst Report) will stop enrolling new patients in its FAME II clinical trial following positive results from an interim analysis.

The independent data safety monitoring board (“DSMB”) recommended investigators to halt patient enrollment in the study following the impressive results which have shown statistically significant reduction in the need for hospital readmission and urgent revascularization when fractional flow reserve (“FFR”)-guided assessment is used in treating patients with coronary artery disease.  

FFR is an index that identifies and measures the severity of coronary artery narrowing. It specifically locates the coronary narrowings which are responsible for occluding blood flow to a patient's heart muscle and directs the surgeons to identify the lesions requiring stenting. The approach is believed to help rein in healthcare costs and improve patient outcome.    

The company-sponsored FAME II trial is evaluating the use of St. Jude’s PressureWire FFR devices during the treatment of patient with stable coronary artery disease. The objective of the trial is to study the role of FFR in treating this condition by comparing FFR-guided percutaneous coronary intervention (“PCI”) plus optimal medical therapy (“OMT”) with OMT alone.

The DSMB considered it unethical to continue randomize patients to OMT alone as patients experienced a highly statistically significant increased risk of hospital readmission and urgent revascularization. The DSMB advised St. Jude to stop enrolling patients in the FAME II study given the higher risk of major adverse cardiac events in patients randomized to OMT alone versus “FFR-guided PCI plus OMT”. The board concluded that this difference was highly unlikely to change with the enrollment of additional patients. 

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

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Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

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