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Nutrien, Abbott, FedEx and NIKE highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – June 25, 2021 – Zacks Equity Research Shares of Nutrien Ltd. (NTR - Free Report) as the Bull of the Day, Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on FedEx Corporation (FDX - Free Report) and NIKE, Inc. (NKE - Free Report) .

Here is a synopsis of all four stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Nutrien recently raised half year guidance due to the strength in the global fertilizer markets. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is now expected to grow earnings by 96% in 2021.

Nutrien is the world's largest provider of crop inputs and services. It produces around 27 million tonnes of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products world-wide.

It also has a significant agribusiness, including its retail segment, Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Nutrien Raised Half Year Guidance

On June 21, Nutrien announced it was raising its first-half 2021 earnings guidance given the strength in the global fertilizer markets.

It now expects earnings to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.50, up from its prior guidance of $2.00 to $2.20.

It also announced it would increase its production of potash by another half a million tonnes. This is in addition to the half a million tonne increase announced on June 7, 2021.

Combined, the company now expects to produce one million tonnes of incremental potash in 2021 compared to earlier expectations.

The majority of this increased production is expected to occur in the fourth quarter, with some additional tonnes expected to be sold in early 2022.

"With continued strength in global agriculture and crop input markets, we are raising guidance and expanding our potash production by a total of one million tonnes to ensure farmers get the potash they need," said Mayo Schmidt, Nutrien's President and CEO.

Analysts Raise Earnings Estimates

Nutrien will provide updates to its full year guidance in its second quarter results in August.

However, it did says it expects the midpoint of its 2021 EPS guidance to be above the top end of the ranges previously provided in the first quarter results.

Therefore, it's not surprising that analysts are already raising full year earnings estimates.

One analyst has already raised for 2021, pushing the Zacks Consensus up to $3.54 from $3.49. That's earnings growth of 96.7% from 2020 where the company earned just $1.80.

Revenue is also expected to rise 15% to $23.99 billion from $20.86 billion last year.

In its first quarter results, Nutrien had record first quarter Retail results and saw strong fertilizer volumes and margins.

It looks like the strong market conditions are continuing.

Shares at 2-Year Highs

Nutrien has rallied big off its 2020 lows as the agriculture cycle heats up.

Year-to-date the shares are up 26.4% and have been at 2-year highs. But they've taken a break in the last month, as they pulled back off the highs.

They're attractively priced with a forward P/E of 17.3.

It's also shareholder friendly, with a dividend currently yielding 2.2%.

Bear of the Day:

Abbott has lowered full year earnings guidance as fewer Americans need COVID tests. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) is still expected to grow earnings by 21% in 2021.

Abbott is a global healthcare company. It operates in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines.

The company serves customers in more than 160 countries.

Lowered Full Year Guidance

On June 1, Abbott lowered its full year 2021 guidance due to the significantly lower COVID-19 diagnostic testing demand, which is expected to continue to slow.

The reduction in testing has been driven by a lower number of cases in the U.S. and other major developed countries, accelerated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and U.S. health authority guidance on testing for fully vaccinated individuals.

As a result, the company is seeing a sudden slowing in market demand for COVID-19 testing, particularly for surveillance and screening with rapid testing.

It has lowered its full year 2021 EPS guidance to a range of $4.30 to $4.50.

It had been selling 12 COVID-19 tests globally during the pandemic.

Analysts Cut Full Year Estimates

It's good news that fewer people need to take rapid COVID tests. But for the diagnostic companies, it means a hit to earnings.

9 analysts have lowered 2021 earnings estimates since Abbott lowered its guidance.

That has pushed the Zacks Consensus down to $4.42 from $5.05. The $4.42 is within the company's guidance range.

It still means the company is growing its earnings at 21% over 2020, as it only made $3.65 last year.

Buying Opportunity?

Abbott shares had been at 5-year highs but have sunk 7.3% in the last 3 months.

They're up just 2% year-to-date.

Is this a buying opportunity?

Shares are still pricey, with a forward P/E of 25.1.

But it's expected to grow revenue by 14.5% this year.

Abbott is shareholder friendly, with a dividend yielding 1.6%.

For those interested in a global healthcare company with growth, Abbott might be one to keep on the watch list for changes in the Rank.

Additional content:

Record Closing Highs, Infrastructure Deal and FDX, NKE Report

New record closes for the Nasdaq and S&P 500 Thursday sets us up for easily the best-performing week of June so far. The Nasdaq rides a 4-day winning streak, while the S&P has notched its 30th record close of 2021 — and we're barely more than half-way through the year. The Dow gained 322 points, +0.95%, while the S&P came in +0.58%, the Nasdaq +0.69% and the small-cap Russell 2000 once again taking the cake, +1.31%.

A bipartisan (!) infrastructure bill on Capitol Hill was announced yesterday by President Biden, surrounded by some of his former cohorts in the U.S. Senate at the White House. The $579 billion package includes $312 billion for Transportation — including airports, roads & bridges and Amtrak rail — and $266 billion labeled "Other." This will include, among other things, replacing 100% of lead water pipes in the U.S., which are found almost exclusively in low-income neighborhoods.

The "pay-fors" on this bill are sketched out as: a reduced tax gap, unemployment insurance integrity, repurposed Covid funds and good-ol' economic growth. Democrats on the Hill also expect a separate reconciliation bill (whereby their slim majority can pass without threat of filibuster) where other assistance they consider "infrastructure," such as electric vehicle subsidies and child care sourcing, will have a chance to pass.

FedEx posted mixed results in its fiscal Q4 earnings report after Thursday's close: $5.01 per share nearly doubled the year-ago print of $2.53, but missed the Zacks consensus by 3 cents. Revenues of $22.6 billion surpassed estimates for $21.7 billion in the quarter. Next quarter revenue guidance was bumped up slightly, but it was not enough to keep the stock from falling 4% on the news in late trading.

Nike, on the other hand, swooped well past estimates on both top and bottom lines yesterday afternoon: 93 cents per share clobbered the 57 cents in the Zacks consensus, and $12.3 billion in sales grew 96% year over year, and topped the $11.1 billion expected. Of course, much of this success is due to extremely easy year-over-year comps, though Nike also put up strong numbers elsewhere.

For instance, in greater China — which was supposed to be a weak spot for the shoes and apparel giant for its fiscal Q4 — grew 17% year over year, while North America zoomed up 141%. The company's digital sales segment has provided Nike with excellent gross margins: +8.5% to 45.8%. Shares, as a result, were up 4% in the after-market. That said, the stock is still down year-to-date by another 4%.

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