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Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: TAM S.A, Westamerica, Boston Scientific, Medtronic and St Jude Medical

TAM WABC BSX MDT STJ

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 12, 2012 – Zacks Equity Research highlights: TAM S.A. - ADR ( (TAM - Snapshot Report) as the Bull of the Day and Westamerica Bancorp ( (WABC - Analyst Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Boston Scientific Corporation ( (BSX - Analyst Report), Medtronic ( (MDT - 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:

We upgrade our recommendation on TAM S.A. - ADR ( (TAM - Snapshot Report) from Neutral to Outperform. The company foresees a strong and growing market in 2012, and hence strives to sustain its competitive position with increased number of flights, destinations and connections.

TAM's fleet development and renovation/restructuring programs are targeted to enhance efficiency besides enforcing strict cost control. The company's focus on economy-travel and retail products, targeted to serve rising demand across the route network, appears promising for future revenue growth.

TAM recorded EPS of $0.34 per ADR and a revenue of $2,000 million in fourth-quarter 2011. Our target price of $28.00 is derived from a P/E ratio of 14.2x 2012 EPS.

Bear of the Day:

We have downgraded our long-term recommendation on Westamerica Bancorp ( (WABC - Analyst Report) from Neutral to Underperform based on weak fourth-quarter results and an overall sluggish economic environment. The company's fourth quarter 2011 earnings slightly missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Results were negatively impacted by reduced revenues, partially offset by lower non-interest expenses. The company's credit quality continued to show improvement in the quarter. We believe that a weak interest rate environment, and low investment returns will restrict any significant bottom-line improvement in the near term.

Our six-month target price of $43.00 equates to about 14.0x our earnings estimate for 2012. Combined with the $1.48 per share annual dividend, this price target implies an expected negative return of 8.5% over that period, which is consistent with our long-term Underperform recommendation on the shares.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

BSX to Acquire Cameron Health

In an attempt to strengthen its Cardiac Rhythm Management (“CRM”) business, Boston Scientific Corporation ( (BSX - Analyst Report) is on its way to acquire privately held, California based Cameron Health for an upfront payment of $150 million. This deal will provide the company with a novel defibrillator, the S-ICD system, the world’s first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (“ICD”).  

The S-ICD system scores over traditional ICDs with respect to placement as the former can be placed beneath the skin and leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched. The traditional ICDs, on the other hand, require thin, insulated wires (leads) to pass through the venous system and into the heart. According to Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory at the Medical College of Virginia, the S-ICD system should become first-line therapy for patients who may benefit from not having a lead in the heart.

The S-ICD system received CE Mark approval in 2009 although the device has yet to be approved in the US. With an expedited review status, Cameron Health submitted its PMA application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2011. Boston Scientific anticipates FDA approval for the S-ICD System in the first half of 2013.

Besides upfront payment, another potential $150 million would be paid to Cameron Health upon FDA approval of the S-ICD System. Over the 6-year period, following FDA approval of the device, an additional $1.050 billion of potential payments would be made contingent upon achievement of certain revenue-based milestones.

Boston Scientific will fund these payments through the cash flow of its business. The company’s cash flow balance has been quite buoyant and adjusted free cash flow for the latest fiscal came in at $1.27 billion. The transaction, likely to be completed in the second or third quarter of the current fiscal, would dilute 2012 bottom line (on an adjusted basis) by a penny and almost break-even in 2013.

Recommendation

The challenges at Boston Scientific’s core segments consisting of stents and defibrillators do not show any sign of near-term abatement. The company continues to experience pricing pressure in the US and Europe. Additional challenges are softness in procedural volume due to economic uncertainties and competitive product launches. This scenario has affected other players in the MedTech sector as well, such as Medtronic ( (MDT - Analyst Report) and St Jude Medical ( (STJ - Analyst Report).

Despite the various headwinds currently at play, product launches made in the recent past should provide some cushion to its top line. Several other products are slated for launch over the year, which should benefit the top line.

We have a Neutral recommendation for Boston Scientific. The stock retains a Zacks #3 Rank (“Hold”) in the short term.

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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