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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Mastercard, General Electric, Target and Brown-Forman

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 11, 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 (MSFT - Free Report) , Mastercard (MA - Free Report) , General Electric (GE - Free Report) , Target (TGT - Free Report) and Brown-Forman (BF.B - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Top Research Reports for Microsoft, Mastercard and General Electric

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

Microsoft’s shares have gained +14.3% in the past year, outperforming the Zacks Computer Software industry’s gain of +12.2% during the same period. The Zacks analyst thinks Microsoft is benefiting from growing user base of its different applications like Office 365 commercial, Dynamics, Outlook mobile and Teams.

Robust execution and better-than-expected demand from customers for hybrid cloud offerings is a positive. Moreover, Azure’s expanding customer base is a key catalyst. Microsoft’s gaming segment is performing well, primarily driven by a combination of Xbox Live, Game Pass subscriptions and Mixer, which are driving user engagement.

Further, acquisitions like PlayFab and GitHub expand Microsoft’s TAM and penetration. However, projections of a moderating growth rate in commercial cloud gross margin, and OEM Pro and Windows commercial businesses is a headwind. Also, competition is stiff and its dominant position in the PC market continues to be challenged.

Shares of Mastercard’s shares have increased 21.4% over the past year, significantly outperforming the Zacks Financial Transaction Services industry’s rally of 11%. 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. However, escalating costs will put pressure on the company’s bottom line. Also, in order to gain customers and new business, Mastercard has been incurring quite high levels of costs under rebates and incentives, which remains a concern. Nevertheless, its strong balance sheet enables business investment, thereby driving growth.

General Electric’s shares have outperformed the Zacks Diversified Operations industry in the past three months (+36.3% vs. +11.8%). The Zacks analyst thinks the company is poised to become more competent on the back of its portfolio-restructuring program. In sync with this, it intends to focus on just three core businesses — Power, Aviation and Renewable Energy — and gradually exit all others.

Moreover, the company has slashed its dividend from 12 cents per share to a penny (for improving its cash position) and plans to reorganize the Power business into two separate units. However, weakening Power business remains a key cause of concern for the company. General Electric expects that internal and external challenges will continue to hurt this business arm.

Also, the company’s margins have been affected due to lower profits secured from its Renewable Energy business. Over the past seven days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s earnings has remained unchanged for both 2018 and 2019.

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Target and Brown-Forman.

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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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