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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – February 4, 2013 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Conn’s ((CONN - Snapshot Report)) as the Bull of the Day and Universal Technical Institute ((UTI - Analyst Report)) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Autodesk Inc. (ADSK - Analyst Report)), Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report)) and Adobe (ADBE - 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:

Conn’s ((CONN - Snapshot Report)) can trace its roots back to 1890 where it started life as a plumbing company in Beaumont, Texas. In the early to mid 20th century, Conn’s began selling refrigerators and ranges and the rest is history.

Since coming public less than a decade ago, Conn’s has continued to expand (conservatively) and now operates 68 retail locations in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. The specialty retailer sells everything from home appliances and consumer electronics to computers, furniture, mattresses and even lawn and garden equipment.

Conn’s also offers customers flexible in-house credit options instead of farming them off to outside banks. Their unique in-house financing allows them to capture more customers, sell higher margin product to consumers with less than perfect credit and also control approval rates and credit limits. It also allows Conn’s to capture fees and interest on accounts that are performing. They also offer competitive third-party financing programs and third-party rent-to-own payment plans.


Conn’s is not only expanding their stores (Conn’s added 3 new “HomePlus” locations in the last quarter), but their earnings are moving in the right direction. Their last earnings report was a record breaker.

Bear of the Day:

Employers have been slowly adding jobs to the American economy. But unlike past growth cycles, the most recent expansion looks more like a cake with too little yeast than a balloon inflated under high pressure.

The past year has also been littered with layoffs from companies of all sizes. Many of the jobs added and current jobs available have either been at the low end of the scale or at the upper end, as corporations trim the fat in the middle, automate and economize their businesses to improve margins.

One of the areas worst hit has been career training companies like Universal Technical Institute ((UTI - Analyst Report)). UTI provides training for automotive, marine, motorcycle and collision repair and their last year has been extremely tough. So tough, in fact, that UTI missed earnings expectations 4 of the last 5 reports and has seen their earnings metrics drop year over year.

 Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Autodesk Buys Allpoint Systems

Autodesk Inc. (ADSK - Analyst Report) recently announced that it has completed the acquisition of Allpoint Systems LLC. However, Autodesk did not disclose the terms of the transaction.

Pittsburgh, PA based Allpoint develops software that collects and processes 3D LIDAR point cloud data for the roadway and building markets. LIDAR is an optical remote-sensing technique, which is emerging as a cost-effective alternative to traditional survey technologies. LIDar produces mass point cloud datasets that can be managed and analyzed using Allpoint software.  

Autodesk will integrate the Allpoint technology into its Reality Capture Group, which will further expand its capability in creating digital models of physical objects and spaces. Allpoint technology adds to Autodesk’s earlier acquisition of Alice labs and RealViz.

Autodesk expects the acquisition to have no impact on the guidance issued on Nov 15, 2012. Currently, Autodesk expects revenues to be in the range of $570 to $600 million and non-GAAP EPS in the range of 43 cents to 51 cents for the fourth quarter of 2013. For 2013, Autodesk expects revenues to be in the range of $2.28 to $2.31 billion and EPS on a non-GAAP basis in the range of $1.84 to $1.92.

Acquisitions have played a pivotal part in developing Autodesk’s business over the last couple of years. Autodesk acquired 23 companies during fiscal 2012 for a total of $221.7 million, significantly higher than $13.5 million in fiscal 2011.

Autodesk continues to expand its product portfolio through the acquisition of small start-ups that are easy to integrate within its own business line. Acquisitions have also helped it to expand its cloud-based product offerings in the recent times. In the first nine months of fiscal 2013, Autodesk acquired 8 companies that include a number of software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers for approximately $204.2 million.

We believe that Autodesk will continue to pursue strategic acquisitions in order to expand its digital prototyping solutions. These solutions are expected to cater to manufacturers of all sizes, enhancing their ability to design, visualize and simulate their products before they are built.

Moreover, the new cloud-based products will boost Autodesk’s subscriber base in the near term. The company is also increasing its penetration in the mobile market by developing software for smartphones and Apple’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) iPad. We believe that these initiatives will boost Autodesk’s top-line growth going forward.

However, foreign exchange fluctuations and sluggish macroeconomic environment remain the primary headwinds. Autodesk’s high exposure to Europe amid the lingering financial turmoil in the region keeps us cautious. Moreover, customer concentration and increasing competition from Adobe (ADBE - Analyst Report).

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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