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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Merck, Mastercard, Salesforce, Diageo and State Street

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – November 30, 2018 – 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 Merck (MRK - Free Report) , Mastercard (MA - Free Report) , Salesforce (CRM - Free Report) , Diageo (DEO - Free Report) and State Street (STT - Free Report) .

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Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Top Stock Reports for Merck, Mastercard and Salesforce

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 Merck, Mastercard and Salesforce. These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.

You can see all of today’s research reports here >>>

Buy-ranked Merck’s shares have gained +37.2% year to date, significantly outperforming the Zacks Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry, which has gained +9.3% over the same period. The Zacks analyst emphasizes that Merck’s new products like Keytruda, Lynparza, and Bridion are contributing meaningfully to the top line.

Keytruda sales are gaining momentum with approval for additional indications, especially in the first-line lung cancer setting as it is the only anti-PD-1 approved in this setting. Animal health and vaccine products are also performing strongly and remain core growth drivers for Merck.

Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure continue to be overhangs on the top line. Rising competitive pressure on the diabetes franchise and on products like Isentress (HIV), Zepatier (HCV) and Zostavax (vaccine) remains.

(You can read the full research report on Merck here >>>).

Shares of Buy-ranked Mastercard have increased +34.4% over the past year, significantly outperforming the Zacks Financial Transaction Services industry’s rally of +18.8%. The Zacks analyst thinks the company is poised for growth, given its solid market position, ongoing expansion and digital initiatives plus significant opportunities from the secular shift toward electronic payments. Its numerous acquisitions have aided revenue growth.

The company is gaining from increase in switched transactions, cross-border volume and gross dollar volume from higher spending. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 3% upward over the last 30 days. However, escalating costs, higher incentives and rewards will put pressure on the company’s bottom line.

(You can read the full research report on Mastercard here >>>).

Salesforce’s shares have gained +37.6% year to date, outperforming the Zacks Computer Software industry, which has gained +22% over the same period. Salesforce’s fiscal third quarter results benefited from strong growth across its product portfolio.

On the back of stellar results, Salesforce raised its fiscal 2019 guidance and further stated that it is on track to achieve $21-$23 billion in annual revenues by fiscal 2022. The Zacks analyst thinks rapid adoption of its diverse cloud offerings given the growing demand for digital transformation remains a key catalyst. Strengthening relationships with cloud companies like Amazon, Google and IBM are a positive.

Additionally, strategic acquisitions like MuleSoft, Datorama and Cloudcraze is helping it deliver strong growth. Nonetheless, stiff competition from Oracle and Microsoft is a concern. Currency fluctuations remain a key headwind. Besides, increasing investments for international expansions and data centers is an overhang on near-term profitability.

(You can read the full research report on Salesforce here >>>).

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Diageo and State Street.

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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.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They're virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today's 220 Zacks Rank #1 "Strong Buys" were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free >>.

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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 https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.



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