Today's Must Read
Meltdown & Spectre Poses Risk to Intel's (INTC) Customers
Strong Optum, Increasing Enrollment Aids UnitedHealth (UNH)
Friday, January 5, 2018
The Zacks Research Daily presents the best research output of our analyst team. Today's Research Daily features new research reports on 16 major stocks, including Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC) and UnitedHealth (UNH). These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.
Buy-rated Microsoft’s shares have outperformed the Zacks Technology sector over the last year (up +38.6% versus +28.1%) The company is dealing with the recent security bug which poses a huge risk for users. In this context, it is rolling out patches to fix Windows kernels in order to address the vulnerability.
Additionally, Microsoft’s recent blockchain deals with Hapoalim and Accenture and its Coco framework are tailwinds. The Zacks analyst expects rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365 to remain the key catalysts in the near future. Further, collaborations with the likes of Amazon, Red Hat, Symantec, Cray and PAREXEL are beneficial for the company's growth prospects.
Microsoft’s strategic initiatives to enter the augmented reality and virtual reality market with the acquisition of Altspace VR and launch of mixed reality headsets are other positives. However, intense competition from Sony’s PS4 is a headwind.
Shares of Intel have gained +21.8% year to date, underperforming the broader Zacks Technology sector as well as the red-hot semiconductors space, which are up +28.1% and +49.1%, respectively. But Intel is benefiting from robust performance of the Data Center Group, Internet-of-Things Group, Non-Volatile Memory Solutions and Programmable Solutions Group. These segments form the crux of Intel’s data-centric business model.
Further, the launch of Xeon Scalable, Core 8 chips, Myriad X and next-generation desktop processors are key catalysts. The new desktop processors are expected to help Intel's gaming endeavors amid stiff competition from AMD and NVIDIA. Moreover, the Core 8 launch is expected to boost Intel’s PC market share.
However, recently, the company has encountered a major security issue. The bug is apparently present in nearly every Intel CPU made within the last decade. The security flaw could provide attackers with access to security keys, passwords, and cached files of a device's kernel memory. Stiff competition from peers adds to its woes.
UnitedHealth's shares have outperformed the Zacks Medical Insurance industry in the last six months (up +20% vs. +18.9%). The Zacks analyst likes the company’s robust Government business and continued strong performance at Optum. International business and strong capital position are its other positives.
The recent announced acquisition of a Chilean company will further expand its overseas business. It has been witnessing an increase in membership for the past many years.
On the back of its impressive earnings in the first nine months, the company raised its 2017 guidance. Its strong guidance for 2018 also instills investors' confidence in the company. It has reduced exposure to the troubled public exchange business. Though this move will shield it from losses in this business, premium revenues are likely to be affected. Charges related to Penn Treaty are other causes of concern.
Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Thermo Fisher (TMO), Mondelez (MDLZ) and Deere (DE).
Zacks Editor-in-Chief Goes "All In" on This Stock
Full disclosure, Kevin Matras now has more of his own money in one particular stock than in any other. He believes in its short-term profit potential and also in its prospects to more than double by 2019. Today he reveals and explains his surprising move in a new Special Report.
Note: Sheraz Mian heads the Zacks Equity Research department and is a well-regarded expert of aggregate earnings. He is frequently quoted in the print and electronic media and publishes the weekly Earnings Trends and Earnings Preview reports. If you want an email notification each time Sheraz publishes a new article, please click here>>>