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Analyst Blog

Mastercard Widens Co-Branded PayPal Business Cards' Acceptance

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:38 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

In a bid to further help small businesses, Mastercard Inc. MA together with PayPal Holdings, Inc. PYPL has announced the expansion of PayPal Business Debit Mastercard across the globe.

The PayPal Business Debit Mastercard is a debit card giving users an instant access to their money in PayPal.

With PayPal, users can make payments online or in-store anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted, withdraw money at any ATM with a Mastercard/Cirrus/Maestro mark, earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases when a user signs up for cash back and receive protection against unauthorized payments sent from their account with the Mastercard Zero Liability Policy.

Small business is one of the worst-hit categories in the COVID -19 scenario. Thus, it will be cushioned by through a speedy access of their PayPal funds by virtue of using this card. Fast access to funds is the need of the hour for most small businesses, which are facing significant cash crunch.

Sufficient financial resources are necessary to keep the wheels of the business moving and the availability of this debit card provides the necessary relief.  As businesses begin to reopen, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to purchase products and services with convenience. Besides, getting rewarded with extra cash will provide customers a life line for survival. Moreover, they will get an unlimited 0.5% cash back on all their eligible spending. Thus, an immediate access to funds along with saving on spending is like an icing on the cake.

The PayPal Business Debit Mastercard is now available in five other European countries, namely Austria, France, Ireland, Italy and Spain. It was already in use in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Mastercard, which is accepted at more than 52 million locations across the globe, is one of the most widely-accepted cards in the world. Given its vast network, PayPal's business customers can now spend money held in their PayPal account at all these places.

SMEs have been at the receiving end from the COVID-19-led business disruption, which impacted their supply chains and trade networks. These enterprises account for 90% of all global businesses and employ about half the workforce, delivering more than 50% of the GDP. Mastercard fathoms that the global economy won’t be back on track until small businesses regain stability and is therefore continuously bailing these enterprises out of the COVID-19-induced crisis.

Mastercard enables digital payments at millions of merchant locations around the world. It is its priority to help micro and small businesses thrive at every step, since SMBs constitute a huge customer base for the company.

Another player in the same space, American Express Co. AXP, has also been championing the cause of small business and promoting these entities since the past decade with its idea of Small Business Saturday, which was founded on Nov 27, 2010.

Visa Inc. V is also a huge supporter of small businesses and kept taking continuous initiatives to that end.

Mastercard carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), currently. The stock has rallied 19.7% in a year compared with the industry’s growth of 6.5%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

 

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Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Mastercard Extends Its Digital-First Program for Easy Payment

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:33 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

In an effort to provide easy digital payment mechanism to its customers, Mastercard Inc. MA is expanding its Digital First Card program by collaborating with a number of payment processors. Digital-First is a Mastercard program that provides a complete digital experience in the world of payment methods.

The payment processors aiding Mastercard in this process are CoreCard, FIS, Fiserv, Galileo, i2c, Marqeta, PTS and TSYS, a subsidiary of Global Payments Inc. GPN. Via these payment processors, Mastercard will ensure that customers  can enjoy the best-in-class digital banking experience including near-instant access to card information, the flexibility to shop with ease and the peace of mind to securely transact, et al.

Mastercard’s Digital-First program is an innovation aimed to make a change in the consumers’ mindset as it revolutionizes the way people think when making payments today. It allows the customer to get a 100% digital product. This implies that financial institutions can issue physical cards without complete customer data since this information is stored exclusively in virtual form — under strict security and authentication protocols — and it is only visible in the app.

The physical card even if demanded and held by the customer will differ from the current cards in circulation. These cards will not carry the usually printed data, such as the account number, card number and CVC (or security code) nor the expiration date. Also, the card holder has the option to personalize his/her name on the card.

A critical component of its design, digital card incorporates an extra layer of security through interoperability with the tokenization standard. Tokenization replaces sensitive payment information with a unique identifier or token, protecting the underlying data. The process of tokenization generates a unique code for each transaction, which makes it more secure and unrepeatable.

Furthermore, the payment process uses the device technology (like a smartphone, for example) to increase the security of the commerce ecosystem through a series of device-specific features and advanced authentication mechanisms including biometrics such as Face ID or Touch ID among others to be able to approve payments and even enter the application.

Via its Digital-First program, Mastercard aims to stay ahead of the fast-changing payments industry, which in recent years went the digital way. Moreover, the outbreak of COVID-19 only accelerated the digital shift as consumers are increasingly shopping online to avoid physical contacts. This transition to the digital mode of payments is permanent and will therefore continue to stay even after the pandemic subsides.

In July, Mastercard launched its first Digital-First program in Chile with Banco Falabella.

Another company in the same space, Visa Inc. V, is providing digital-first commerce through its Digital Commerce Program.

Mastercard carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), currently. The stock has gained 19.7% in a year compared with the industry’s growth of 6.5%.

A better-ranked stock in the same space is Envestnet Inc. ENV. It sports a Zacks Rank #1(Strong Buy), presently. Earnings of the company surpassed estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average being 14.3%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential

The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.
 

Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Movie Theatres Are Back: But is it Worth the Showtime Yet?

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:30 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted every facet of life so far, and the movie industry is no exception. Over the past few months, the movie theatre business has been hit hard by the tough operating landscape created by the ongoing pandemic. However, in a bid to get the industry back on track after five-months of lockdown, big movie theatre chains like AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. AMC, Cinemark Holdings CNK and Marcus Corporation MCS to name a few began to reopen for public viewing with enhanced health and safety protocols in place.

The release of Christopher Nolan’s $200-million worth big-ticket film Tenet was a huge acid test for the cinema industry. It was expected to drive moviegoers back to the halls. Although the film garnered international acclaim, its lackluster box-office performance on the domestic front showcases the flagging fortunes of movie business. In the United States, Tenet’s box-office collection in terms of cumulative ticket sales was $36.1 million. In comparison, the film notched up $203 million globally, taking its worldwide total to $239.1 million.

The disappointing domestic collection makes it palpable that audiences are still apprehensive about going to the theatres for watching movies as the auditoriums are not really conducive to social distancing. Per a recent survey conducted by the global data intelligence company Morning Consult, only 22% consumers find it comfortable to return to the cinemas, even with big-budget flicks. 

Thanks to the waning ticket sales, many significant movie releases got postponed. For instance, the release of Wonder Woman 1984 is deferred to the Christmas Day from its earlier scheduled date in October. With Disney’s Marvel blockbuster Black Widow debut being pushed to May 2021, the next big releases are slated for a November release. MGM’s No Time to Die and Disney’s Pixar film Soul are supposed to hit the screens then.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged the trend of releasing several movies including Hamilton, Trolls World Tour and Greyhound on the streaming services or the online rental platforms, which were otherwise planned for a theatrical release. In fact, Netflix NFLX, Disney’s DIS Disney+ and Amazon AMZN, which currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), and a host of other streaming services completely disrupted the theatre space as it is no longer necessary to unveil a movie at the theatres.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In a nutshell, the much-awaited return of the cinemas from a temporal setback may not be all that hunky-dory. Theatre chains will have to win back their loyal crowds of consumers by strongly ensuring them an ambience of safety and cleanliness. AMC’s set of health and safety mandates including capping theatre capacity, ventilation system upgrades and the need for wearing masks, aim at offering a secure entertainment experience. Nevertheless, with the spike in coronavirus cases across the United States, the big question that crops up in the mind is whether it’s essential to venture out for movies during a pandemic.

 

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The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.

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Athersys Gets FDA's RMAT Designation for Cell Therapy in ARDS

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:29 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Athersys, Inc. ATHX announced that the FDA has granted Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) designation to its MultiStem cell therapy for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The RMAT designation was created under the 21st Century Cures Act and is granted to speed up the development and review of regenerative therapies that target serious or life-threatening conditions. The designation also indicates that the cell therapy product is eligible and has the potential to address the unmet medical needs for that disease.

The MultiStem cell therapy was granted a Fast Track tag by the FDA for the given indication in May 2019.

Following the latest development, MultiStem became the only cell therapy program that has both Fast Track and RMAT designations from the FDA for ARDS.

Athersys recently completed an exploratory phase I/II MUST-ARDS study on MultiStem cell therapy for the treatment of ARDS. Data from the same showed that treatment with MultiStem cell therapy led to lower mortality, fewer days on ventilator, lesser intensive care unit days and a better quality of life, a year post-ARDS compared to patients who received placebo.

Shares of Athersys have rallied 55.2% so far this year against the industry’s decrease of 0.1%.


Notably, the company is also currently evaluating the administration of MultiStem for the treatment of ischemic stroke in phase III MASTERS-2 study. The study is currently ongoing and enrolling patients. MultiStem for ischemic stroke also enjoys an RMAT designation.

This apart, Athersys initiated the phase II/III MACOVIA study in August 2020, evaluating MultiStem cell therapy for the treatment of COVID-19-induced ARDS. This study is currently recruiting patients and is designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and dose levels of MultiStem cell therapy for the given indication. The primary efficacy endpoints are comparing the number of ventilator-free days through day 28 compared to placebo.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Athersys currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Emergent BioSolutions Inc. EBS, Horizon Therapeutics Public Limited Company HZNP and QIAGEN N.V. QGEN, all presently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Emergent’s earnings estimates have been revised 55.5% upward for 2020 and 37.3% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged 89.5% year to date.

Horizon Therapeutics’ earnings estimates have moved 49.7% north for 2020 and 49.6% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has skyrocketed 120.4% year to date.

QIAGEN’s earnings estimates have been revised 10.6% upward for 2020 and 22.5% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has soared 50.1% year to date.

Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential

The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.

Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Marsh & McLennan's (MMC) Arm Ties Up With Triterras Fintech

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:23 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.’s MMC unit Marsh (Singapore) recently inked a deal with Triterras Fintech to provide credit insurance via a digitally streamlined process on its Kratos platform.

Triterras is a leading fintech company for commodity trading and trade finance, which launched and operates Kratos, one of the biggest commodity trading and trade finance platforms. This Kratos insurance model is a timely solution as companies are seeking digital tools to adapt to the paradigm shift brought about by COVID-19. Kratos’ commodity traders are now able to gain an easy access to the best insurers, initiate enquiries, sign up, etc. regarding insurance coverage directly through this platform.

With this innovation, Marsh expects the insurance industry to utilize digital tools for boosting operational efficiency as well as improving customer relations.

Notably, Triterras Fintech will be able to improve user experience through this new offering.

Marsh is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, catering to commercial as well as individual clients with data drive risk solutions and advisory services. It has more than 35,000 colleagues operating in above 130 countries.

This segment constantly takes up initiatives to drive the company’s portfolio and enhance its capabilities. Earlier this year, it acquired Assurance Holdings, Inc., one of the leading independent agencies in the United States. The buyout was mainly executed by the middle market agency unit of Marsh known as the Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA).

All these initiatives poise the company well for growth.

Zacks Rank and Price Performance

Shares of Marsh & McLennan, which currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), have gained 33.1% in the past six months compared with the industry’s growth of 23%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.



The company’s peers, namely Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. AJG, Brown & Brown, Inc. BRO and Aon plc AON have also rallied 17.2%, 21% and 3.8%, respectively, in a year’s time.

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Fortis Provides Capex & Dividend Plans, To Cut Emissions

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:22 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Fortis Inc. FTS recently announced its new five-year capital investment plan for the 2021-2025 period. These investments will aim at providing safe, reliable and affordable services to the company’s customers, support its investment-grade credit ratings and dividend growth, and add stability to its shareholders.

Moreover, the company issued an update on its carbon emission cutback plans along with dividend policy.

Capital Investment Plans

Update on 2020 Plans: Major capital projects remain on track and are progressing per the plan. The utility’s current-year capex of $4.3 billion remains on target and is likely to grow its rate base this year by approximately 8%.

Future Plans: The electric utility plans to invest $19.6 billion in the 2021-2025 period, increasing $800 million from the prior year's plan. Of nearly $20 billion, $5.1 billion is reserved for electric transmission infrastructure at ITC Holdings Corp. while $4.4 billion is likely to be spent on Fortis’ natural gas and electric subsidiary, FortisBC. Further, a $3.8-billion amount is expected to be invested in its unit UNS Energy, Arizona to support a cleaner energy future.

Also, its consolidated rate base is expected to be $36.4 billion in 2023 and $40.3 billion in 2025, up from $30.2 billion in 2020. These projections indicate a respective three and a five-year CAGR of 6.5% and 6%.

Notably, the capex plan is likely to be primarily funded with cash from operations, debt raised and common equity from the dividend reinvestment plan.

Emissions Reduction Target

The utility has been making extensive efforts to meet its target of lowering carbon footprint by 75% within 2035 from a 2019 base year. It anticipates achieving this goal by exiting coal generation and adding approximately 2,400 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power systems, and 1,400 MW of energy storage systems.

Likewise, other electric utilities are adopting measures to supply clean and reliable energy to its customers. Some of the companies, namely Duke Energy DUK, DTE Energy DTE and Xcel Energy Inc. XEL are planning to provide absolute clean energy by 2050.

Dividend Plans

Fortis declared a dividend of 50.5 cents per share, marking a 5.8% hike in the quarterly dividend, payable Dec 1 to its shareholders of record at the close of business on Nov 18, 2020. Additionally, the company extended its target for average annual dividend per share growth of nearly 6% to 2025, based on a 2020 annualized dividend of $1.91. From Dec 1, the 2% discount offered on common share issuances will be reinstated under the dividend reinvestment plan.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Fortis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Shares of the company have gained 23.3% in the past six months, outperforming the industry’s rise of 12.2%.

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The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.

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Virtu Financial Posts Preliminary Q3 Report Until August 2020

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:20 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Virtu Financial, Inc. VIRT recently announced the preliminary estimates for third-quarter 2020 revenues through Aug 31, 2020.

On a preliminary basis, Virtu Financial expects its trading income, net in the range of $295-$303 million for the two months ended Aug 31, 2020.

Adjusted net trading income is anticipated between $238 million and $246 million.

The company projects average daily adjusted net trading income in the bracket of $5.53-$5.72 million per day.

Virtu Financial altered its July 2020 estimated results for Average Daily Adjusted Net Trading Income to $6.50 million from the previous range of $6.70-$7 million per day.

On a preliminary basis, August results are likely to reflect trading income, net in the range of $122-$130 million and adjusted net trading in the $95-$103 million band. August preliminary results are likely to reflect Average Daily Adjusted Net Trading Income between $4.52 and $4.90 million per day. This indicates reduction in volumes and market volatility in the United States and Europe.

In the last reported quarter, the company benefited from market volatility amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Revenues in the second-quarter gained on the back of heightened market uncertainty, bid-ask spreads, and trading volumes and asset classes.

What to Expect

This leading provider of financial services and products might have witnessed weak results in August due to reduced market woes.

Nevertheless, the company gains traction from market unpredictability and thus, the recent coronavirus pandemic aided it to earn a sweet spot. Being a high-frequency trader, Virtu Financial suffered from an uninterrupted financial market in recent years. However, the pandemic-led crisis proved to be a boon for the company as market volatility soared.

Moreover, both its Market Making and Execution Services segments have been delivering impressive results for the past many years.

Zacks Rank and Price Performance

Shares of this currently Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company have gained 44.2% year to date against its industry’s decline of 14.5%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.



This stellar price performance also came against some other finance stocks’ depreciated values. Companies like Oaktree Specialty Lending Corp. OCSL, Jefferies Financial Group Inc. JEF and Global Payments Inc. GPN have lost 67.8%, 27.3% and 19.4%, respectively, in the same time frame.

Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential

The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.

Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Reasons to Add UGI Corporation (UGI) Stock to Your Portfolio

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:14 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

UGI Corporation’s UGI strategic buyouts, improving customer base and a strong liquidity position are likely to further enhance its performance.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

UGI Corporation currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Shares of the company have surged 30.7% in the past six months, outperforming the industry’s rise of 10.1%.

Mixed Growth Projections

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2020 earnings is pegged at $2.54 per share and the same for revenues stands at $6.99 billion. The bottom line suggests an increase of 11.40% from the year-ago reported figure. However, the top line indicates a 4.50% decline from the year-earlier reported number.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2021 earnings stands at $2.87 per share and the same for revenues, $7.78 billion. The bottom line hints at a 12.99% improvement from the prior-year reported figure while the top line implies 11.22% growth from the year-ago reported number.

Robust Inorganic Profile

UGI Corporation’s subsidiary completed the acquisition of GHI Energy, LLC in July with its focus on providing renewable natural gas to vehicle fleets by procuring supply from diverse sources across the country. Moreover, the buyout of AmeriGas Partners, L.P. in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 enables the company to enhance its cash flow for repaying debts and funding capital investments in its natural gas business.

In August 2019, the utility acquired Columbia Midstream Group, LLC (CMG) from TC Energy Corporation (TRP), which is now known as UGI Appalachia. It continued to perform very well in the first nine months of fiscal 2020. Such strategic buyouts will help the company curb competition in the market and grow its customer base, boosting its performance in turn.

Steady Dividend Raises

Having been consistent in its operating performance and efficient capital deployment, the company has been able to reward its shareholders through annual dividend hikes and share repurchases. With two dividend increases in fiscal 2019, UGI Corporation’s dividend saw a CAGR of 9.4% over the past decade. In April, the company raised its quarterly dividend to 33 cents per share. This is the 33rd consecutive year of dividend increase. The utility has a current dividend yield of 3.81% compared with the S&P 500 composite’s 1.60% average.

Strong Financial Position

As of Jun 30, 2020, the company had liquidity of $1.6 billion, up from $1.2 billion in the quarter ending Mar 31, 2020. UGI Corporation’s times interest earned (TIE) ratio improved to 2.65 at the end of third-quarter fiscal 2020 from 2.28 at the end of the fiscal second quarter. The strong TIE ratio reflects the company’s ability to meet its debt obligations in the near future.

Solid Return on Equity (ROE)

ROE is a financial metric that helps an investor understand how efficiently the company is using its shareholders’ funds for generating returns. The company’s ROE for the trailing 12 months is 13.19% compared with the industry’s 13.13%, reflecting its efficiency in utilizing its stockholders’ money.

Stocks to Consider

A few other top-ranked utilities are Essential Utilities Inc. WTRG, Southwest Gas Corporation SWX and ONE Gas, Inc. OGS, all carrying the same Zacks Rank as UGI Corporation at present.

Essential Utilities,Southwest Gas and ONE Gas have a long-term (three to five years) earnings growth rate of 6.01%, 5% and 5.5%, respectively.

Also, Essential Utilities, Southwest Gas and ONE Gas delivered a respective earnings surprise of 9.67%, 6.53% and 0.35%, on average, in the last four quarters.

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Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Here's Why Concho Resources (CXO) is Investor Favorite Now

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:12 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Concho Resources Inc. CXO boasts a stable business model. Though the stock has lost 38.2% in the past year, it has a strong potential to grow in the near term. The firm should be included in investors’ watchlist.

While the unprecedented demand destruction due to coronavirus and the sector’s extreme volatility are responsible for the understandable reluctance on investors’ part to bet on the energy stocks, Concho Resources not only seems to be holding up okay, it’s expected to emerge from the current downturn relatively unscathed.

Let’s assess the factors why Concho Resources has enough momentum to carry on with.

What Makes It a Promising Pick?

Top Rank & Attractive VGM Score 

This independent oil and gas exploration & production company, with its primary focus on the Permian Basin, currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and a VGM Score of A. Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best investment opportunities. Thus, the company appears to be a compelling investment proposition at the moment. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here.

Stellar Q2 Performance

Concho Resources reported second-quarter 2020 net income per share (excluding special items) of $1.13, outperforming the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 33 cents as well as the prior-year period’s earnings of 69 cents. The company’s bottom line was favorably impacted by better-than-expected daily production volumes. Precisely, this upstream player’s output of 319 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d) surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 310.1 MBoe/d.

Northward Estimate Revisions

The direction of estimate revisions serves as a key indicator when it comes to stock price performance. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Concho Resources’ 2020 earnings has been revised 80.3% upward over the past 60 days. Earnings estimates for 2021 have also moved 78.3% north during the same period.

Positive Earnings Surprise History

This Midland, TX-headquartered Concho Resources has a decent surprise record. While its earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two of the preceding four quarters, the same met and missed the mark on two occasions, the average beat being 67.15%.

Strong Balance Sheet

The company exited the second quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $320 million, improving from the sequential quarter’s level of $165 million. It’s debt to capitalization as of the second-quarter end was 33.3%.

Key Catalysts

Concho Resources is known for its strategic acreage position in the low-cost Permian Basin. The buyout of RSP Permian bolstered its presence in the region, thereby lifting its output prospects. As a result, the company expects oil production to remain unchanged in 2020 despite lowering 40% of its capital budget projection.

Its cost-reduction efforts have been encouraging. For the current year, Concho Resources trimmed its capital expenditure view by 40% to $1.6 billion from its original guidance of $2.7 billion after reckoning the ongoing crash in commodity prices. Moreover, for the present year, the company predicts its controllable costs to stay below $8.50 per Boe. This, in turn, is expected to aid its earnings and cash flows.

Also, its current ratio (liquidity ratio that measures whether a firm has enough resources to meet its short-term obligations) of 1.80 is very healthy and the company has still got $2 billion in unused credit facility. Concho Resources has no near-term maturities. Therefore, the company seems to be in a decent financial position to overcome the oil price crisis.

Other Key Picks

Other top-ranked stocks in the energy space includeMurphy USA Inc. MUSA, Laredo Petroleum, Inc. LPI and SilverBow Resources Inc. SBOW, each presently sporting a Zacks Rank of 1.

Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential

The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $775 billion by 2024 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases.

Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Our recent biotech recommendations have produced gains of +50%, +83% and +164% in as little as 2 months. The stocks in this report could perform even better.

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Chevron Staff Gets Cut-Off Date to Remove Wechat From Phones

Posted Thu Sep 24, 01:08 pm ET

by Zacks Equity Research

Chevron Corporation CVX has asked its workers worldwide to remove Tencent Holdings Ltd's TCEHY WeChat app from their work phones.

The move came just after the U.S. President Donald Trump mandated this Chinese social messaging app to go unserved domestically. The US oil major Chevron is the first company to act in accordance with Trump’s executive order.

In a staff email, Chevron acknowledged WeChat as a "non-compliant application" and notified its employees that those using the app on their official handsets need to delete it prior to Sep 27 or else their access to the company's network will be disconnected.

WeChat is an all-in-one Chinese mobile application developed by Tencent that can be used for messaging, social media and mobile payment. The app was first released in 2011 and has more than a billion users globally.

About Chevron

Chevron is one of the largest publicly-traded oil and gas companies in the world with its presence in almost every part of the globe. A key component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, this energy player is a fully-integrated company, participating in every energy-related process, ranging from oil production to refining and marketing.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Chevron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the same space are Murphy USA Inc. MUSA and SilverBow Resources Inc. SBOW, each presently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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