Today's Must Read
Investment in Renewables and Infrastructure Aid NextEra (NEE)
Biogen (BIIB) Rides on Alliances, Spinraza Competition Lurks
Monday, June 24, 2019
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 Union Pacific (UNP), NextEra (NEE) and Biogen (BIIB). These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.
Union Pacific’s shares have underperformed the Zacks Rail industry (+22.2% vs. +25.5%) year to date. The Zacks analyst thinks Union Pacific's second-quarter 2019 results, scheduled to be revealed on Jul 18, will be hurt by sluggish freight revenues as was the case in the first quarter.
Declining shipments apart, high operating expenses may prove detrimental to the company. High debt levels are worrisome too. Notably, Debt/EBITDA ratio (adjusted) increased to 2.6 in the first quarter of 2019 from 2.3 at 2018 end. However, the company's efforts to reward its investors through share buybacks and dividend payouts are impressive.
Since November 2017, Union Pacific hiked its quarterly dividend payout four times. The company is also active on the buyback front. Its strategic initiatives toward promoting safety and enhancing productivity represent an additional positive.
Shares of NextEra have outperformed the Zacks Electric Power industry in the past year, gaining +24.7% vs +13.5%. The Zacks analyst thinks NextEra’s investments under the “30 by 30” plan, targeted at strengthening renewable operations, will help the company to continue as a market leader in renewable power generation.
Focus on expanding operations in natural gas pipelines, and further expansion of business through acquisitions and organic growth has positively impacted earnings. However, its nature of business is subject to complex and comprehensive federal, state, and other regulations. Substantial investments are undertaken to ensure the safety of nuclear operations.
That said, if planned outages last longer than expected or there is an unplanned outage, the company’s regular operations and profitability might be hindered.
Biogen’s shares have declined -20.6% year to date, underperforming the Zacks Outsourcing industry, which has gained +6.3% over the same period. The Zacks analyst likes Biogen’s efforts to diversify beyond MS to other areas like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and stroke. Spinraza is performing well and has multi-billion dollar potential.
Biogen’s efforts to regularly in-license assets in order to build its pipeline are commendable since several of them have transformative potential. Several data readouts are expected in 2019/2020 with multiple potential launches in the early 2020s.
However, its core MS business, excluding Ocrevus royalties, is suffering from a declining trend. Also, potential competition to Spinraza from competitors’ gene therapy programs for SMA is a concern. Though Biogen’s CNS pipeline is attractive, it is a high-risk area as evident from the recent failure of Alzheimer’s candidate aducanumab and uncertainty over the future of others like BAN2401.
Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Humana (HUM), V.F. Corp (VFC) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC).
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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>>>