Today's Must Read
Merck's (MRK) New Drugs Drive Sales Amid Rising Competition
BHP Billiton (BHP) Bets on Operational Efficiency, Liquidity
Friday, October 19, 2018
The Zacks Research Daily presents the best research output of our analyst team. Today's Research Daily features new research reports on 12 major stocks, including United Parcel Service (UPS), Merck (MRK) and BHP Billiton (BHP). These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.
United Parcel Service’s shares have outperformed the Zacks Transportation - Air Freight and Cargo industry in the last three months, gaining +4.2% vs. +0.2%. Solid e-commerce growth is a huge positive for the company and should aid its third-quarter results, scheduled to be disclosed on Oct 24.
Additionally, the company's transformation plan, unveiled in September 2018, is aimed at boosting its bottom line. The Zacks analyst is also impressed by UPS' efforts to reward shareholders. To this end, in February 2018, UPS hiked quarterly dividends by 10%. The company's bullish full-year forecast on free cash flow supports the possibility of a dividend hike in the near future.
Moreover, UPS is leaving no stone unturned to perform well in the upcoming holiday season. It intends to hire roughly 100,000 seasonal workers during the season.
Shares of Merck have gained +11.1% in the last three months, outperforming the Zacks Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry, which gained 3.9% over the same period. Merck’s new products like Keytruda, Lynparza, and Bridion should continue to drive sales.
Keytruda sales are gaining strong momentum with approval for additional indications especially in the first-line lung cancer setting as it is the only anti-PD-1 approved in this setting. Animal Health unit is also strong and remains a core growth driver for Merck. Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line.
However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure will continue to be overhangs on the top line. Estimates have gone up ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. Merck has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.
BHP Billiton’s shares have outperformed the Zacks Mining - Miscellaneous industry over the past six months (3.1% vs. -7.3%). Recently, BHP Billiton entered an agreement to acquire 6.1% interest in SolGold, with which it will gain shares of the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador. The company is also trying to make its operations more efficient on the back of smarter technology adoption across the entire value chain.
BHP has entered agreements for the sale of its onshore U.S. assets for $10.8 billion, to simplify and strengthen its portfolio and generate shareholder returns. Moreover, strong cash flow position, lower debt levels and higher operational efficacy will likely strengthen BHP Billiton’s competency in the near term.
Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), PACCAR (PCAR) and Parker-Hannifin (PH).
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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>>>