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For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – June 11, 2012 – Zacks Equity Research highlights The Valspar Corporation (VAL - Analyst Report) as the Bull of the Day and Health Net, Inc. (HNT - Analyst Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Facebook Inc. (FB - Analyst Report), Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) and Google (GOOG - 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:
We are maintaining our Outperform recommendation on The Valspar Corporation (VAL - Analyst Report). Second quarter earnings topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate while sales missed. The company witnessed improved margins in the quarter, supported by pricing, better productivity and synergies from restructuring. Valspar raised its earnings forecast for 2012 based on volume gains and effective cost management.
The company expects sales to benefit from the diverse mix of businesses and growth in the fast growing coatings markets across Asia and Latin America. We believe the company has a strong pipeline of new products and significant opportunities for share gains in both its Paint and Coatings segments globally.
Moreover, Valspar is expected to benefit from its restructuring actions while maintaining its operational and pricing discipline. Our price target of $56 is based on 17.1x our fiscal 2012 earnings estimate, within the company's historical range.
We are downgrading our recommendation on Health Net, Inc. (HNT - Analyst Report) to Underperform from Neutral on the back of disappointing first-quarter results. Health Net's financial leverage deteriorated with higher debt-to-total capital ratio and lower shareholders equity.
Health Net's first-quarter 2012 earnings lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate due to a substantial decline in revenue. This primarily resulted from lower revenues in the Government Contracts segment due to the new T-3 TRICARE North contract, which restricted the earnings that could be recognized.
Our six-month target price of $23.00 per share equates to about 10.1x our earnings estimate for 2012. With no dividend to supplement, this target price implies an expected negative return of 10.4% over that period, which is consistent with our Underperform recommendation on the shares.
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In a move to woo mobile users, Facebook Inc. (FB - Analyst Report) recently released its centralized “App Center” that consists of more than 600 applications including Nike+ GPS, Ubisoft Ghost Recon Commander, Stitcher Radio, Draw Something and Pinterest.
The App Center is available on the Internet as well as on Apple’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) iOS and Google’s (GOOG - Analyst Report) Android-based mobile devices. Mobile revenue growth had been a bit of concern for Facebook lately and its initial public offering (IPO) also suffered due to the lack of visibility around monetization of mobile platforms.
Although Facebook reported 488 million monthly average users (MAU) for its mobile products as of March 31, the company expressed doubts in its S1 filing prior to the IPO, regarding the success of its monetization efforts in the mobile segment.
This is primarily due to the fact that historically Facebook has been totally focused on the desktop segment. Hence its applications were cumbersome for mobile users and the small windows of mobile phones.
Mobile is a different ballgame altogether. Unlike personal computers, mobile users navigate much faster over their devices and applications as they are mainly done on the move. Hence, mobile applications need to be smart, simple and fast.
Due to this reason, Facebook never really had any ad coverage on mobile platforms, as Ads along with mobile applications need to be much catchier and less time-consuming than the ads aimed at desktops. In March this year, Facebook included sponsored stories in users’ mobile for the first time in its history.
We believe that the roll-out of the centralized application database will attract more mobile users to Facebook. As the App Center recommends applications based on users’ personal choice and their friends choice, mobile users will find it easy to navigate and search through the database to access their apps within a short span of time.
Moreover, the new App Center connects users with Apple’s and Google’s respective application stores, from which users can simply download apps on their mobiles. The App Center also carries a new “send to mobile” feature; through which desktop users can download mobile apps.
Although we expect that the new App Center will boost Facebook’s mobile customer base, it is likely to lose some non-advertising revenues (transaction fees charged by third party providers) by forwarding users to stores of Apple and Google, Therefore, the effectiveness of the App Center in terms of generating significant advertising revenue from mobile platforms is something to be proved, in our view.
Nevertheless, we believe that Facebook is well positioned to grow over the long term based on its large customer base and proven business model. The company enjoys a first mover advantage in the social networking market. Although advertising revenue has somewhat slowed down in recent months, we note that non-advertising revenues increased five fold in 2011.
This is the revenue Facebook earns from third party developers and through the sale of Facebook Credits (a form of virtual currency). As more and more third party developers flock to Facebook, we believe that non-advertising revenue will increase going forward.
However, increasing competition from established players such as Google as well as new entrants and uncertainty in the mobile segment can limit upside going forward. Currently, Facebook has a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a Neutral rating over the short term (1-3 months).
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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