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Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Discover Financial Services, Carnival, BP Plc, Transocean and Halliburton

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 3, 2012 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Discover Financial Services (DFS - Free Report) as the Bull of the Day and Carnival Corp. (CCL - Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on BP Plc (BP - Free Report) , Transocean Ltd. (RIG - Free Report) and Halliburton Company (HAL - Free Report) .

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Discover Financial Services' (DFS - Free Report) first quarter earnings was substantially ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate on higher transaction and credit card sales volumes and lower loan loss provisions, along with record-low delinquency and charge-off rates. Higher consumer spending and merchant acceptance contributed to the substantial expansion of income across segments.

Additionally, a dividend increase and share buyback have also injected optimism. The company has a strong inorganic growth policy, which apart from boosting earnings also fosters portfolio diversification.

The company's extensive network, sound capital position, rapidly expanding acceptances and cost containment initiatives will help accentuate growth over the long term. Our six-month target price of $38.00 equates to 10.6x our earnings estimate for 2012. Given the annual cash dividend of $0.40, this price target implies an expected total return of 20.7% over that period.

Bear of the Day:

Following the recent sinking of Carnival Corp.'s (CCL - Free Report) cruise ship, we are cautious about the sector in the near term. This disaster shook customer confidence, thereby sharply reducing the booking volume and consequent earnings guidance.

Moreover, a slowdown in the European economy and faltering consumer confidence in Europe are currently acting as major hindrances to the company's growth. Surging fuel prices and a greater exposure to a sluggish European market remain other headwinds for the company.

Hence, we downgrade the stock from Neutral to Underperform. Our six-month target price of $29.00 equates to about 18.1x our estimate for 2012. The target price implies an expected negative return of 7.9% over that period.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

BP: U.S. Gov’t Hiding GoM Facts

BP Plc (BP - Free Report) has alleged the U.S. government of concealing proofs that may reveal that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was not as massive as claimed by the federal officers.

Per the documents revealed by the government, the oil spill had catastrophic effects killing eleven people and pouring 4.9 million barrels from the mile-deep Macondo oil well, and was considered the worst offshore U.S. incident in history.

However, BP claims that an August 2010 estimation of 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled from the well is too high. This can be proved if the documents which have not been exposed by the government are disclosed. Around 10,000 documents that the government tried to hide with respect to the oil spill have been recognized by BP.

The breach of Clean Water Act along with other laws led the U.S. government to take legal action against the main defendants in the trial––BP, Transocean Ltd. (RIG - Free Report) and Halliburton Company (HAL - Free Report) . Several other companies are also involved in the trial.

As the penalty amount is dependent on the size of the spill, BP’s fine may go up to tens of billions of dollar, as the Gulf states are seeking compensation for their damages, while BP and its drilling partners are also suing each other. Based on current estimations, BP may have to shell out about $17.6 billion.

According to the Clean Water Act, the accused is charged a maximum fine of $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled or $4,300 if there was gross negligence. Therefore, a reduction in the size of the oil spill would lower the amount of civil fine BP would be entitled to pay.

In March, BP had reached a settlement of $7.8 billion with Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee that covered a significant extent of legitimate economic loss and medical claims arising from the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. The settlement included an amount of $2.3 billion set aside to especially help cover claims related to the Gulf seafood industry. The agreement did not settle the claims BP faces against the U.S. government and drilling partners.

BP holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months. Longer term, we maintain a Neutral recommendation on the stock.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

About Zacks Equity Research

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Continuous analyst 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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