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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Novartis, Pfizer, Eisai, Nordstrom and Gap

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – September 4, 2012 – 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 Novartis AG (NVS - Free Report) , Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) , Eisai and Co. Ltd (ESALY - Free Report) , Nordstrom Inc. (JWN - Free Report) and Gap Inc. (GPS - Free Report) .



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Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:


Pipeline Progress at Novartis

Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, Novartis AG (NVS - Free Report) recently announced positive data on its pipeline candidate, QVA149 (indacaterol maleate/glycopyrronium bromide), from a phase III study, SPARK.


The candidate is being studied for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The SPARK study met its primary endpoint, showing a significant reduction in the rate of moderate-to-severe COPD exacerbations in comparison to Seebri Breezhaler (glycopyrronium bromide 50 mcg) after 64 weeks.


Additionally data from the study showed that QVA149 was statistically more successful in the reduction of mild, moderate and severe exacerbations in comparison to Seebri Breezhaler (glycopyrronium bromide 50 mcg) and Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE - Free Report) Spiriva (tiotropium 18 mcg).

The SPARK study, which will be a part of the initial regulatory submissions for QVA149, in Europe and Japan is a part of the company’s phase III QVA149 development program, IGNITE. SPARK comprises the fifth and final study of this phase III program. We note that, all five clinical studies in this phase III program met their primary endpoints.


COPD which likely affects almost 210 million people worldwide is expected to become the third most important cause of death by 2020. Thus it provides ample commercial opportunities for the candidate upon approval.


Novartis plans to submit QVA149 for regulatory approval in both Europe and Japan in the fourth quarter of 2012. The company also plans a late 2014 US filling of the candidate.


We also note that other than QVA149, Novartis’ COPD portfolio includes Onbrez Breezhaler (indacaterol maleate) which was launched in the US under the brand name Arcapta Neohaler and in Japan under the name Onbrez Inhalation Capsules where it is being co-promoted by Eisai and Co. Ltd (ESALY - Free Report) .


Our Recommendation


Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on Novartis. The company carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run.

Anniversary Sale Boosts Nordstrom Comps

Leading fashion retailer, Nordstrom Inc. (JWN - Free Report) , came up with outstanding comparable store sales (comps) for the four-week period ended August 25, 2012. Gaining largely from the shift in the timing of its largest sale event of the year – the Anniversary Sale – partly into August, Nordstrom posted a fabulous 21.0% increase in comps. The event was carried out over a period of 8 days in August this year compared to only one day in 2011.

In July, the company reported a 0.9% increase in comps compared to the year-ago period. Together, July and August 2012 comps were up 8.4% from last year.

August Comps at Nordstrom’s two business segments – Nordstrom full-line and Nordstrom Rack – increased 24.0% and 7.1%, respectively, compared with the year-ago period. Total retail sales climbed 25.2% to $866 million from $691 million reported in August last year.

Year-to-date through August 25, 2012, Nordstrom’s total retail sales augmented 12.1% to $6,319 million driven by an 8.0% increase in comparable store sales. During the period, the company’s comparable store sales at Nordstrom full-line and Nordstrom Rack segments increased 8.6% and 7.2%, respectively.

Peer Performance

One of Nordstrom’s competitors, Gap Inc. (GPS - Free Report) , registered a 9% rise in comparable store sales for the month of August, while net sales came in at $1.20 billion, up 9.1% compared with the prior-year period.

Store Expansion Plans

Nordstrom announced its plans of opening four new Nordstrom Rack stores in September. The plans include opening of stores in three different states including one store at Manchester Highlands in Manchester, Missouri; one at Tysons Corner, Virginia; and two stores in California located at the Carmel Mountain Plaza in San Diego and Edinger Plaza in Huntington Beach.

Additionally, the company plans to relocate its Nordstrom Rack store at the Mall at the Source in Long Island, New York to the nearby Gallery at Westbury Plaza.

As of August 30, 2012, Nordstrom operated 117 Nordstrom full-line stores, 110 Nordstrom Rack, 2 Jeffrey boutiques, 1 treasure&bond store and 1 clearance store, thus bringing the total store count to 231.

Our Recommendation

Based in Seattle, Washington, Nordstrom Inc. offers high quality apparel, shoes, cosmetics and accessories for men, women and kids. The company offers both branded and private label merchandise, as well as a private label card, two Nordstrom VISA credit cards and debit cards for Nordstrom purchases.

Nordstrom maintains a Zacks #2 Rank, which translates into a short-term Buy rating. Our long-term recommendation on the stock remains Neutral.



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