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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Nasdaq OMX Group, Bank of America, Barclays Capital, JPMorgan Chase and POSCO

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – December 17, 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 Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ - Analyst Report), Bank of America Corp. (BAC - Analyst Report), Barclays Capital Plc (BCS - Analyst Report), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM - Analyst Report) and POSCO (PKX - Analyst Report).

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Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Nasdaq to Buy Thomson-Reuters Biz

Yesterday, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ - Analyst Report) announced its intention to purchase the corporate management arm of Thomson Reuters. The deal is valued at $390 million and is expected to culminate by the first half of 2013, subject to regulatory approvals.

Accordingly, Nasdaq has agreed to obtain the Public Relations, Investor Relations and Multimedia Solutions businesses of Thomson Reuters. The company plans to fund the transaction mostly by cash and the remaining from its revolving credit facility.

Additionally, Nasdaq sought the advice of BofA Merrill Lynch of Bank of America Corp. (BAC - Analyst Report) and Barclays Capital Plc (BCS - Analyst Report), while Thomson Reuters was advised by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM - Analyst Report).

The deal complements the growth strategies of both the parties. Through this, Nasdaq further aims to accelerate its non-transaction revenue base, which already represents over 70% of the company's total revenue. Alongside, the company seeks to generate growth through international expansion as well as through escalation in technology and data revenue.

Over the past few quarters, revenue from equity and derivative trading have been marred by volumes declines amid the market volatility as well as unfavorable currency and interest rate fluctuations. Hence, the decision to boost its corporate management solutions with an additional client base of over 7,000 in more than 60 countries across the globe will likely help Nasdaq witness positive results in the future.

Excluding the costs related to the deal, the transaction is projected to be accretive within the first year of purchase and generate accentuated cost synergies of $35 million annually, thereby reflecting incremental returns on capital as well. Moreover, the acquisition is estimated to shore up Nasdaq’s revenue from corporate solutions services to about $330 million from the current $97 million. This indicates over 3x of revenue boost, accounting for more than 7% of total revenue for the company at present.

On the other hand, Thomson Reuters has been restructuring its business to focus on and expand its core business, in an attempt to nullify the adversities led by the ongoing economic volatility and financial crisis, which resulted in many of its banking clients opting for layoffs to reduce costs. Moreover, its corporate solutions division accounts for only 2% of total revenue, all of which justifies the company’s decision of divestiture.

Overall, we believe that Nasdaq’s inorganic expansion initiatives are endeavors to counter the competitive forces and inject dynamism to its business profile. The company’s strategic efforts to enhance fraying market position are also crucial given the challenges posed by the recent reforms in the US. This leaves no reason for NASDAQ to lag the market moves.

Earlier this week, the company also announced the acquisition of 25% stake in Amsterdam-based The Order Machine (TOM) – Dutch cash equity and equity derivatives trading platform. Additionally, Nasdaq is scheduled to build a new interest rate derivative trading platform – Nasdaq NLX – in London.

Nevertheless, we cast a neutral outlook on the company’s attempts to expand and integrate the recent acquisitions given the global economic volatility, and currently remain on the periphery to assimilate the future developments.

Nasdaq carries a Zacks Rank #3 that implies a short-term Hold rating, while the long-term recommendation stands at Neutral.

POSCO Upgraded to Outperform

We recently upgraded Korean steel producer POSCO (PKX - Analyst Report) from Neutral to an Outperform recommendation based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. The $6.2 billion company is the world’s third largest steelmaker on the basis of output.

The company was incorporated in 1968 and is headquartered in Seoul, Korea. Ever since its inception, the company has been earning the reputation of producing the best quality steel and steel products through 143 companies out of its total 202 companies operating across the world.

The company recently came out with its third quarter 2012 financial results, which were quite impressive as earnings per ADR came in at US$1.84, way above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of US$1.45. Total revenue, however, plummeted 7% in the quarter as weakness in the company’s steel business overshadowed its healthy performance in the non-steel businesses. Margins plummeted as costs soared high while debts were lower leading to lower debt-equity ratio.

Leaving aside the financial performance, we find POSCO’s expansionary efforts in the domestic market as well as in the international arena, especially the fast growing and emerging markets worldwide, quite remarkable. 

Moreover, higher proportion of value-added products like cold-rolled steel, automotive steel plates and electric steel sheets in its product mix work in favour of the company. Also, the company has been increasing the use of cheaper raw material and reduced purchased-energy costs with an emphasis on cost saving which amounted to KRW 1,071 billion in 2012.

These long-term prospects get a bit marred by near-term concerns including rising costs and expenses as well as the impact of the financial crisis in the European region, slow growth in China and sluggish growth in the United States on the worldwide steel demand.

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