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Williams-Sonoma, Freshpet, Intel, NETGEAR and Ericsson highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 25, 2021 – Zacks Equity Research Shares of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSM - Free Report) as the Bull of the Day, Freshpet, Inc. (FRPT - Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Intel Corporation (INTC - Free Report) , NETGEAR, Inc. (NTGR - Free Report) and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (publ) (ERIC - Free Report) .

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Williams-Sonoma is a multi-channel specialty retailer of premium quality home products. Incorporated in 1973, the company has five brands, each of which are operating segments: Pottery Barn, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids and Teen, and Other (includes Rejuvenation and Mark and Graham).

Q4 Earnings Recap

Investors cheered Williams-Sonoma's fourth quarter report, sending shares up 18% the day after the release.

Comparable brand revenue growth surged nearly 26% year-over-year thanks to strength across all of its brands. Namesake Williams-Sonoma saw 26.2% sales growth, Pottery Barn up 25.7%, and West Elm jumped 25.2%.

Online revenue was up almost 48%, with e-commerce penetration making up 70% of revenues.

Adjusted earnings came in at $3.95 per share, easily beating analyst expectations and growing 85% from the prior year.

It wasn't just these stellar Q4 results. Investors were also rightly excited by WSM's announcement that it would be increasing its dividend by 11%, as well as a $1 billion stock buyback plan. Shares currently yield about 1.2% on an annual basis.

WSM Breaks Out

In the past six months, shares of WSM have jumped almost 90% compared to the S&P 500's 20.8% increase. Earnings estimates have been rising too, and WSM is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) right now.

For fiscal 2021, nine analysts have revised their bottom-line estimate upwards in the last 60 days, and the Zacks Consensus Estimate has moved up $1.78 to $9.37 per share. Earnings are expected to grow over 3.7% compared to the prior year period. Fiscal 2022 looks strong too, and earnings should see positive year-over-year growth as well.

Looking ahead, management forecasts year-over-year revenue growth of mid- to high single digits as well as operating margin expansion; these are both in-line with the company's long-term goals.

Additionally, WSM received a parade of price target increases post-earnings, and brokerage firm William O'Neil initiated coverage on the stock with a buy rating. This demonstrates confidence that analysts have even as the retailer begins to face tough year-over-year comparisons.

If you're an investor searching for a retail stock to add to your portfolio, make sure to keep WSM on your shortlist.

Bear of the Day:

Freshpet is a pet food company that manufactures and markets natural fresh foods, refrigerated meals, and treats for dogs and cats in the United States and Canada. Freshpet provides meat-based recipes, such as chicken, beef, lamb and salmon; fruits and vegetables like carrots, peas and leafy green vegetables; and high-fiber grains, such as brown rice, oats and barley. It sells its products under the Freshpet, Dognation, and Dog Joy brand names, and is headquartered in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Q4 Earnings Recap

Shares of FRPT fell after the company reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results back in February.

Net sales grew 28.5% year-over-year for Q4, reflecting a slight slowdown in growth compared to the prior year period. But net sales for 2020 matched Street expectations, up 30% year-over-year.

Additionally, FRPT announced intentions to raise $300 million by selling common stock, which added pressure to the stock that day.

Freshpet more than doubled from last March's lows, so this earnings-related pullback, as well as the last few week's volatility, has probably been healthy for the stock.

Bottom Line

FRPT is now a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Seven analysts have cut their full year earnings outlook over the past 60 days, and the consensus estimate has fallen 18 cents to $0.39 per share; earnings are expected to grow considerably year-over-year, but it looks like bottom-line growth will slow down next fiscal year.

Shares are up about 38% in the past six-month period compared to the S&P 500's gain of 20.8%.

Even though investors and analysts were disappointed by Freshpet's Q4 report, the company remains confident about its outlook. Management now believes Freshpet products will be in 11 million homes by 2025, up from 8 million.

Additional content:

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Intel's expertise in PCIe Express Gen 4, next-generation Optane Persistent Memory and SGX security enhancements poise it well for growth in the data-center vertical.

Infusion of AI favors growth prospects in data-center training and is fortifying the strength of Intel Xeon inference capabilities. Markedly, Amazon announced EC2 instances that will utilize the chipmaker's Habana Gaudi AI training accelerators.

Moreover, investments in enhancing the networking workload convergence on Intel silicon yielded results. In 2020, the chipmaker's Radio Access Network delivered advanced Xeon SoCs, FPGAs and custom solutions for 5G base station designs and helped the company attain its 40% share target, two years ahead of the original goal.

Also, management is optimistic about the growing popularity of the latest Sapphire Rapids processors for the data center that leverages better SuperFin process technology and various architectural improvements. Furthermore, the chipmaker intends to upscale production of Sapphire Rapids by the end of this year, which is a boon for this Zacks #2 Ranked company. The stock currently has a VGM Score of B.

NETGEAR is a global company that delivers innovative networking and Internet-connected products to consumers and businesses. The firm is benefiting from an accretive subscriber base and stellar demand for connected home products, driven by the work-from-home trend.

It is well positioned to serve the demand trends in the marketplace. NETGEAR's revenues are primarily fueled by the rapid increase in Internet-connected devices, such as smartphones, tablets and the advent of Smart Home, which have boosted the need for networking solutions.

The company is focused on introducing products into growth areas that form the basis of Smart Homes. NETGEAR projects continued strength in its end-market demand for home networks. It is confident of being a leader in fresh product introductions, based on the Wi-Fi 6 standards. This Zacks #2 Ranked company flaunts a VGM Score of A.

Ericsson presently carries a Zacks Rank of 2 and has a VGM Score of B. It is focused on 5G system development and has undertaken several notable endeavors to position itself for market leadership on 5G.

The company currently has 134 commercial 5G agreements with communication service providers (of which 76 are publicly announced) and includes 83 live 5G networks across 41 countries. The acquisition of Cradlepoint has strengthened the company's position in the 5G enterprise market.

Apart from this, Ericsson is gaining from accelerated 5G deployments in North-East Asia, North America and Europe. Remarkably, the company's 5G RAN technologies provide the ultimate infrastructure required to meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth connections and support real-time communication requirements of mission-critical applications, which hold promise.

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