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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Kodiak Sciences, General Motors and Procter & Gamble

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 1, 2019 – 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: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) , Kodiak Sciences Inc. (KOD - Free Report) , General Motors Company (GM - Free Report) and The Procter & Gamble Company (PG - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Wall Street Notices These Stocks, and So Should You

Wall Street’s top investors are keeping an eye on two separate congressional testimonies from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on U.S.-China trade negotiations amid a volatile geopolitical backdrop. While Britain’s March deadline to exit the European Union looms large, tensions between India and Pakistan have erupted.

With the market in a capricious state, smart investors are sorting the most valuable stocks. Microsoft Corporation, Kodiak Sciences Inc., General Motors Company and The Procter & Gamble Company are currently on their radar and should be on yours as well.

Microsoft On a Tear

Tech giant Microsoft Corporation’s initiatives to become a more cloud-centric company and its shift from software licensing to a subscription model for its ever-present Office software has worked in favor of the company. The software giant has more than doubled its share price in the past three years and has surpassed the broader S&P 500 in the said period. The software giant has also been the Dow Jones’ third best stock last year and Wall Street remains bullish on the company’s prospects.

Along with Amazon, Microsoft has solidified its position as a leader in the cloud services domain. The company’s commercial-cloud products primarily include Azure, Office 365 commercial and Dynamics 365. Lest we forget, Azure is not only the biggest contributor to the company’s commercial-cloud revenues but is also growing at a mind blowing rate.

In fact, majority of analysts believe that this category will have a positive impact on the company’s earnings narrative in the near term. Growth in the cloud computing segment is also expected to surpass both the personal computing and business process segments in the days to come.

Microsoft, by the way, has made a number of high profile cloud computing deals, including a massive seven-year contract with Walgreens. These deals should boost profit margin and revenues.

At the same time, Microsoft’s product suit is well supplemented by a solid position in the content space, thanks to its online services, Xbox gaming platform and video-game development studios, to name a few.

The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current and next quarter are a steady 5.3% and 4.4%, respectively. Actually, the stock’s projected earnings growth rate for the current year is 13.7%, more than the Computer - Software industry’s expected gain of 11.3%.

Kodiak Sciences — A Solid Development Stage Biotech Stock

Hedge fund managers Felix and Julian Baker are known to pick developmental-stage biotech stocks. After all, the Baker brothers have built the most valuable healthcare oriented funds — “Baker Bros. Advisors.”

So, when this reputed team buys a significant stake in a company, investors should take notice. Advisors recently bought a 25% stake in clinical-stage biotech Kodiak Sciences Inc. Notably, Kodiak is on course to develop an early-stage treatment for macular degeneration, better known as KSI-301, whose market is valued at more than $5 billion. Such a huge market, thus, gives Kodiak ample scope to grow.

Kodiak currently has a Zacks Rank #3. The company’s expected earnings growth for the next year is 8.7%, slightly higher than the Medical - Biomedicaland Genetics industry’s projected gain of 7.1%.

General Motors — An Undervalued Auto Giant

General Motors is a good value stock, especially, after the car manufacturer emerged from bankruptcy almost a decade ago. The stock is recently trading at a P/E ratio of around 6, has delivered a commendable performance in its recently-reported quarter and expects to grow for the rest of this year.

The company is also well placed in the autonomous vehicle space. General Motors acquired Cruise for nearly $1 billion. Softbank and Honda also invested in General Motors-acquired Cruise and the valuation surged to $14.6 billion.

Cruise has given General Motors a worthwhile commercial autonomous taxi option for the near future. Self-driving technologies like Super Cruise in General Motors’ Cadillac category has proven to be a grand success (read more: Autonomous Driving Set to Rev Up:4 Stocks to Gain).

General Motors, by the by, gives a dividend yield of 3.9%, and it’s no surprise that some of the Wall Street’s top minds have taken notice. Needless to say, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has not only bought a stake in General Motors in 2012 but has also increased its holding in the third quarter of 2018.

General Motors currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company’s earnings growth rate over the past five years have been 15.5%, higher than the Automotive - Domestic industry’s gain of 8.2%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Old is Gold

After several years of giving The Procter & Gamble Company a thumb down, Wall Street is finally warming up to the stock. The consumer product bigwig that sells staples like diapers and razors saw its shares climb 18.5% in the last six months, against the broader S&P 500’s decline of 3.6%.

P&G, in its most recent quarter, registered the best growth in years with organic sales rising 4%. The jump in organic sales helped P&G steal a significant market share from rival Kimberly-Clark.

P&G is also likely to convince its customers to pay a little more for its brands like Pampers, Tide, and Gillette and that in turn should boost its profit margins. P&G currently has a Zacks Rank #2. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 5.7%, higher than the Soap and Cleaning Materials industry's projected gain of 0.1%.

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



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