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Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: ProAssurance, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Diebold, Vodafone and United Parcel Services

PRA BMRN DBD VOD UPS

 ZacksTrade Now

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – February 14, 2012 – Zacks Equity Research highlights ProAssurance Corp. (PRA - Analyst Report) as the Bull of the Day and BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN - Analyst Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Diebold (DBD - Snapshot Report), Vodafone (VOD - Analyst Report) and United Parcel Services (UPS - 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:

We are upgrading our recommendation on ProAssurance Corp. (PRA - Analyst Report) to Outperform, based on the company's premium growth, stable ratings and improved ROE. The company's third-quarter earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate on the back of higher premiums. Consequently, operating cash flow and assets also improved, driving the book value of shares upward and leading to initiation of a cash dividend.

Higher operating cash flow is also likely to translate into enhanced operating leverage and excess capital generation for share repurchases. We believe the benefits of geographic diversity, aggressive claims defense and strong financial position are likely to have a positive impact over time.

Our six-month target price of $101.00 per share equates to about 14.8x our earnings estimate for 2011. Combined with the $1.00 per share annual dividend, this target price implies an expected return of 20.1% over that period, which is consistent with our Outperform recommendation.

Bear of the Day:

We are downgrading BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN - Analyst Report) to Underperform from Neutral purely on valuation grounds as we believe that the stock is overvalued at current levels. Moreover, we are disappointed by the initial sales ramp of the company's newest marketed product - Firdapse.

Moreover, we expect cash burn to increase since the company is investing heavily in its pipeline. Any negative news regarding the pipeline would have an adverse impact on the stock.

These concerns have caused us to widen our loss estimate for 2012 by $0.32 to $0.39 per share. Since we believe the stock is overvalued at current levels, we advise investors to avoid the name. Our target price is $35.00.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Clouds in Europe, Sunnier at Home

Political leaders in Greece overlooked the violent protests on the street and nationwide elections in the coming days to endorse the fresh dose of tough medicine for Greece, whose economy is deeply in recessionary territory.

This paves the way for Greece getting a fresh bailout from the troika of EU, ECB, and the IMF. A meeting of Euro-zone finance ministers this Wednesday will need to sign off on the measure before the bailout measure could proceed.

That said, it is hard to believe that this latest deal represents the end of the Greek problem as we have known it over the last two years. But that line of thinking would represent looking ahead, and that’s not how the markets have been behaving lately. When it comes to Europe, the market’s horizon lately has seldom been longer than a single day.  Based on that track record, today’s market sentiment should broadly be favorable.

European dark clouds aside, the picture on the home front has lately been getting clearer and sunnier. We don’t have much on the economic calendar, but the rest of this week brings a number important economic readings.

The improving U.S. economic picture has lowered the odds of fresh monetary easing from the Federal Reserve, but we will get a first-hand look at the behind-the-scene discussions in the last FOMC meeting following the release of the minutes of that meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Inflation readings will be in focus this week, as we get the January PPI and CPI reports on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The market will also take a pulse of the nation’s manufacturing sector through the January Industrial Production report and the Empire State and Philly Fed regional surveys for February. Importantly, investors will be looking for continued strength in the January Retail Sales numbers on Tuesday and evidence of green shoots on the housing front in Thursday’s Housing Starts numbers.

The fourth quarter reporting season is winding down, but we still have about 50 S&P 500 companies coming out with results this week. Of the major releases this morning, Diebold (DBD - Snapshot Report) came out with better than expected earnings. In other corporate news, Vodafone (VOD - Analyst Report) is reportedly contemplating making an offer for U.K’s Cable & Wireless, with the indicated price in the $1 billion vicinity.

UPS Hikes 2012 Dividend

United Parcel Services (UPS - Analyst Report) boosted its quarterly dividend by 9.6% to 57 cents per share from 52 cents paid last year. On an annualized basis, UPS' dividend equates to $2.28 per share compared with $2.08 a year earlier.

The increased dividend is payable March 7 to shareholders of record on February 21. This rise marks a three-fold increase from the introductory dividend of 17 cents per share paid in 2000 and a two-fold hike from the annual dividend paid in 2004.

The move comes two weeks after the company posted outstanding fiscal 2011 earnings of $4.35 per share, up 25% from the prior year, driven by healthy US Domestic, International Packages and freight performances.

UPS is committed to return cash to shareholders in the form of increased dividends and share repurchases. UPS leads the parcel industry in dividend payments, with the current yield being 3%

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.

About the Analyst Blog

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.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous analyst coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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