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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Interactive Brokers Group, Halliburton, Apache, Texas Instruments and CSX

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – January 24, 2012 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. ( , Halliburton ( , Apache Corp ( , Texas Instruments ( and CSX Corp ( .

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Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Interactive Brokers Beats Again

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc.’s ( fourth quarter 2011 earnings per share came in at 30 cents, substantially ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 23 cents. This also compared favorably with a loss of 67 cents in the year-ago quarter. During third quarter, the company earned twice the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Including the effect of changes in the U.S. dollar value of Interactive’s non-U.S. subsidiaries, the company reported earnings of 27 cents compared with a loss of 56 cents in the year-ago quarter. This reflects the new GAAP convention that requires the posting of currency translation results contained in Other Comprehensive Income as part of reportable earnings.

Results benefited mainly from a substantial improvement in revenues, partially offset by higher interest and non-interest expenses. Net income attributable to non-controlling interests was also substantially higher during the reported quarter. The company’s Electronic Brokerage and Market Making segments continued to perform well with an impressive pre-tax income.

For the full year 2011, earnings were $1.40 per share, well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.05. This also compared favorably with a loss of 22 cents in the year-ago quarter.    

Slow Start to Busy Week

The market appears to be least concerned about Greece’s inability to reach a restructuring deal with its private creditors. The Greek government assured that it did not see its talks collapsing. This, coupled with a successful German bond auction today, should help stocks sustain the positive momentum of the last couple of weeks. We have a relatively quiet day today on the economic and earnings fronts, but the rest of this week brings a host of material reports.

On the economic front this week, we have the Fed meeting and the fourth quarter 2011 GDP report on deck. The Fed is not expected to change its near-zero interest rate policy, but this first meeting of 2012 will usher in a new phase of transparency for the Central Bank. In addition to the customary Fed statement after the meeting and the quarterly Bernanke news conference, this time will bring Fed Funds rate forecasts by the individual Fed districts through 2015.

We will also get when the individual Fed districts see the FOMC starting to raise interest rates again. This is a significant development as it likely will show that the central bank districts expect near-zero interests for longer than the current FOMC policy of through 2013 only.

It will be interesting to see how treasury yields will respond to this expected disclosure. Will this result in greater flattening of the yield curve, particularly given growing expectations of another round of quantitative easing despite the recent favorable run of economic reports?

The Fed aside, this week also brings the first read on the fourth quarter GDP numbers, with the expectation for the growth rate to be in the 3% range. Short of a significant higher or lower number relative to that expectation, the market will likely not take much note of the release.

Inventory building will be a positive contributor to growth this time around after shaving off more than a percentage point in the third quarter, while personal consumption expenditures likely accelerated from the previous quarter’s 1.7% pace. It will be interesting to see how businesses spent their money in the quarter as all indicators are pointing to a deceleration on that front. The fourth quarter increase notwithstanding, the consensus expectation is for growth  to moderate in the first quarter of 2012 to the 2% level.

In other economic news, we will get the December Durable Goods and New Home Sales numbers on Thursday. We will also get the weekly Jobless Claims data this Thursday, which experienced a sharp drop last week, reversing the preceding week’s rise. Notwithstanding the complications with seasonal adjustments at this time of the year that most likely lay behind the sharp volatility in this series over the last two weeks, there is no denying the favorable momentum on the labor market front.

Not to forget that we are in the midst of the fourth quarter reporting season. With less than a fifth of the reports already in, the growth numbers are a lot weaker than we have become accustomed to in recent quarters. But there is little surprise in that as expectations had already come down ahead of the reporting season. In fact, the earnings reports thus far, particularly in the financial sector which forms the bulk of the early reports have been better than expected.

In today’s relatively quite earnings releases, we got roughly in-line earnings from Halliburton ( on strong top-line gains. In other news, Apache Corp ( , a major oil and natural gas E&P player, is buying privately held Cordillera Energy for $2.85 billion. The deal gives Apache acreage position in the Granite Wash region that straddles the Texas-Oklahoma border. Texas Instruments ( and CSX Corp ( report after the close today.

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