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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: UnitedHealth Group, Merck, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs Group and Cisco Systems

UNH MRK JPM GS CSCO

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Chicago, IL – November 15, 2016 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:(UNH - Free Report) –Free Report),Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:(MRK - Free Report) –Free Report),JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:(JPM - Free Report) –Free Report),Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:(GS - Free Report) –Free Report) and Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:(CSCO - Free Report) – Free Report).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Dow Stocks to Buy on Election Week Rally

Last week, the Dow just registered its strongest five-day gains in around five years. Initially apprehensive about a Trump presidency, investors now seem to be welcoming the idea. Promises of looser regulation are boosting healthcare and financial stocks. Only technology seems to be affected, primarily due to Trump’s campaign trail promises.

However, this phase seems to be temporary and tech companies with the ability to innovate and deliver strong performance may soon benefit from the new regulatory environment. Investing in stocks from these sectors, which are also part of the blue-chip index, make for a safe and smart investment strategy.

Markets Rally on Trump Win

The Dow gained 0.2% on Friday to post its highest weekly gains since Dec 2011. The index has increased by 5.4% over the last five days. The S&P and Nasdaq also rose, each registering weekly gains of 3.8%. After two volatile days of trading, markets relished the relative calm of Friday. Investors seem to have taken a breather after the excitement of the first two days following the declaration of election results.

Initially, stocks had reflected investors’ fears about the election’s outcome, losing sharply in overnight trading. After losing nearly 800 points in late night futures trade, the Dow ultimately rose to gain 1.4% on Wednesday. Markets made a dramatic turnaround as investors snapped up healthcare and financial stocks, while dumping safe-haven assets. The index increased by 1.2% on Thursday, hitting an all-time high, a record which was quickly broken on Friday.

Financials, Healthcare Chalk Up Gains

Financials emerged as the big winner last week with the Financial Services Select Sector SPDR gaining more than 11%. Bank stocks, in particular, have been racking up gains on hopes that Trump’s presidency will boost financials. Expectations of a favorable regulatory environment, lower corporate taxes and a steeper yield curve are believed to be the primary triggers for these gains.

Healthcare stocks have also received a boost. A far cry from Hillary Clinton’s stance on the pharma sector, Trump’s policies could bring to an end the “draconian” new pricing rules on drugs in the wake of scandals over prices. Trump’s intention to repeal and replace Obamacare coupled with his plan to free up cash currently held overseas for tax reasons is also expected to boost the industry.

Will Technology Suffer?

One major loser which seems to have emerged in this scenario is the tech sector. Trump’s position on Apple outsourcing its production, Amazon’s tax issues and net neutrality seems to have skewered the pitch for these stocks. Trump has also adopted a tough stance on issues such as immigration and trade which have an immediate impact on the sector.

But the ensuing panic in this domain and resultant losses may be only fleeting. Ultimately, this is a key growth area for the economy and may also benefit from deregulation and a business friendly environment. On Friday, shares of NVIDIA surged 29.8%, its best one-day performance since May 2003, after reporting better-than-expected fiscal third quarter results. Impressive performance from the chipmaker helped the technology sector to end in the green, which in turn boosted the Nasdaq.

Our Choices

Markets have embraced a Trump presidency and seem to be going from strength to strength. The result has come as a fillip to investors even before any major policy announcements.

Picking stocks from the blue chip index for your portfolio is a prudent option at this point. We have narrowed down our search to the following stocks based on a good Zacks Rank and other relevant metrics.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. ’s (NYSE:(UNH - Free Report) – Free Report) third quarter earnings easily outpaced expectations and improved 13% year over year, led by strong results from the health services business, Optum, and membership growth. The company raised its outlook for 2016 adjusted earnings to approximately $8 per share.

UnitedHealth has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company has expected earnings growth of 24.2% for the current year. Its earnings estimate for the current year has improved by 1.2% over the last 30 days. The stock has gained 6.7% over the last five days.

Merck & Co., Inc. ’s (NYSE:(MRK - Free Report) – Free Report) third-quarter results were strong, with the company beating on all fronts and slightly raising both its sales and earnings outlook for the year. The latest FDA approval of Keytruda for the first line treatment of metastatic lung cancer should sharply improve the drug’s sales.

Merck has a Zacks Rank #2. The company has expected earnings growth of 4.8% for the current year. Its earnings estimate for the current year has improved by 0.7% over the last 30 days. The stock has gained 8.4% over the last five days.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. ’s (NYSE:(JPM - Free Report) – Free Report) third-quarter earnings exceeded expectations, driven by improved trading revenues, higher mortgage banking fees, growth in investment banking income and a rise in net interest income. JPMorgan is expected to witnessing further rise in interest income driven by solid loan growth.

JPMorgan has expected earnings growth of 3.3% for the current year. Its earnings estimate for the current year has improved by 3.8% over the last 30 days. The forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio for the current financial year (F1) is 13.10, lower than the industry average of 14.81. The stock has gained 10.5% over the last five days. It has a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. ’s (NYSE:(GS - Free Report) – Free Report) third-quarter 2016 results recorded a positive earnings surprise of 26%. Goldman’s well-diversified business and its focus to capitalize on growth opportunities via strategic moves including its new digital consumer lending platform should continue to bolster its overall business.

Goldman Sachs has a Zacks Rank #2. It has a P/E (F1) of 13.57, which is lower than the industry average of 15.24. Its earnings estimate for the current year has improved by 5.7% over the last 30 days. The stock has gained 13% over the last five days.

Cisco Systems, Inc. ’s (NASDAQ:(CSCO - Free Report) – Free Report) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings exceeded expectations. Overall growth prospects remain positive because of the drive toward cloud computing and increasing data flow on carrier and computing networks.

Cisco has a Zacks Rank #2. The company has expected earnings growth of 4.2% for the current year. It has a P/E (F1) of 14.07, which is lower than the industry average of 20.12. The stock has gained 1.8% over the last five days.

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About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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