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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: 3M, Altria, Stryker, UnitedHealth and Veeva

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL –June 1, 2018 – 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 3M (MMM - Free Report) , Altria (MO - Free Report) , Stryker (SYK - Free Report) , UnitedHealth (UNH - Free Report) and Veeva Systems (VEEV - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Top Stock Reports for 3M, Altria and Stryker

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 3M, Altria and Stryker. These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.

3M’s shares have lost -2.8% in the last year, outperforming the Zacks Diversified Operations industry, which has declined -12.9% over the same period. The Zacks analyst likes 3M's global footprint, diversified product portfolio and the ability to penetrate in different markets.

Portfolio management, investment in innovation and business transformation are the three key levers on which the company intends to focus. 3M raised its earlier guidance for 2018 on strong quarterly results and improved business outlook.

Furthermore, 3M is standardizing its business processes through a new, global ERP system. However, adverse foreign currency fluctuations are likely to negatively impact the earnings in the short-term. 3M is also facing increased pension expenses as its workforce begins to retire. The related extra costs are a drag on the company’s bottom line.

3M further remains susceptible to commodity price risks. Stiff competition from local players in the market remains another significant headwind.

Shares of Altria have outperformed the Zacks Tobacco industry in the last six months (-17.5% vs. -20.1%), aided by expansion in the smokeless products category. Stern government regulations combined with increased health consciousness has been taking a toll on cigarette sales. This has long been hurting Altria’s smokeable segment performance.

Notably, domestic cigarette shipment volumes fell 4.2% year over year during first-quarter 2018, wherein total cigarette retail share declined to 50.3%. Moreover, the FDA’s proposition to lower nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive or minimally addictive levels is feared to further mar volumes in this category.

However, the Zacks analyst thinks Altria has been progressing well with its reduced-risk products. This fueled its smokeless product revenue in the first quarter, wherein earnings kept its stellar year-over-year growth trend intact. Driven by such positives and gains from lower taxes, management provided a favorable earnings view for 2018.

Stryker’s shares have gained +21% over the last year, outperforming the Zacks Medical Products industry, which has increased +13% over the same period. The company’s high domestic and international growth in revenues buoys optimism. The Zacks analyst thinks continued demand for the Mako Total Knee Platform and a diversified product portfolio have consistently driven the company’s growth.

Strong guidance for the second quarter and full year hold promise. Moreover, surging operating margins reflect the company’s bullish prospects. Stryker’s acquisition-driven strategy is expected to boost growth by expanding existing product offerings across all business segments, while an enhanced international presence should bolster its global hold.

However, supply issues in the Puerto Rico facility and a declining gross margin raise concern. Furthermore, the recall of the Oral Care lineup is a major drawback. The company is currently being plagued by foreign currency volatility and reduced demand for healthcare products.

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include UnitedHealth and Veeva Systems.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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