The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Marathon Oil and Marathon Petroleum

 The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Marathon Oil
                            and Marathon Petroleum

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Oct. 17, 2012

CHICAGO, Oct. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --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 IBM Corp. (NYSE:IBM),
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Intel Corporation (Nasdaq:INTC), Marathon Oil
Corporation (NYSE:MRO) and Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:MPC).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

IBM Misses, Shares Take a Hit

After the bell Tuesday, large-cap tech company and household name IBM Corp.
(NYSE:IBM) reported 3rd quarter 2012 earnings. The results seemed humdrum, but
the reaction has been swift and severe: IBM shares have fallen roughly $7 per
share in the after-market following its slight earnings miss and tepid
guidance.

IBM reported quarterly earnings of $3.60 per share (discounting one-time items
but including stock-based compensation), missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate
of $3.62. Revenues also came in light at $24.7 billion versus the $25.4
billion expected. Further, IBM announced its full year 2012 guidance of "at
least" $15.10 per share (non-GAAP), whereas the Zacks Consensus had this
number pegged at $15.14 per share.

While Business Analytics and Smarter Planet revenues up 14% and 20% year to
date, as expected, Systems & Technology overall revenue was down 13%. Downward
currency adjustments took a chunk out of expected progress in Growth Markets,
as well as overall Software sales, as IBM does a ton of business overseas.

At first blush, there doesn't seem much to propel shares downward so fast;
IBM's game-plan seems intact (I'm sure

Hewlett-Packard

(NYSE:

HPQ

) wishes it had IBM's sophisticated analytics and cloud-computing businesses
right about now), and progress in its data and industry collaboration efforts
in smart grids, green energy, etc. making up the Smarter Planet services is
quite respectable for a company that just made computers not so long ago.

Then again, IBM had just hit a new 52-week high before the bell, so perhaps
traders were looking for a good reason to take some air out of IBM's balloon.
That said, these days if you're a big company with a solid record of earnings
surprises, missing on both the top and bottom lines while also reiterating
conservative guidance is going to get your stock hammered in the near term.

Intel Beats Lowered Q3 Expectations

Intel Corporation (Nasdaq:INTC) is not fooling around when it mentions the
tough economic environment. A few moments ago, the technology giant announced
third-quarter revenue of $13.5 billion, which was above the company's lowered
guidance of $13.2 billion. However, that's a very far cry from the original
outlook of $13.8 billion to $14.8 billion. It was also down more than 5% from
a year ago. The Zacks Consensus Estimate was at $13.17 billion.

The company lowered its guidance in early September citing a "weaker than
expected demand in a challenging macroeconomic environment." More
specifically, the personal computer industry is in a major slump. As a result,
Intel moved into the third quarter report with downward earnings estimate
revisions. For example, in just the last 30 days, the company has witnessed 18
downward revisions out of 41 total estimates… with none to the upside.

The company is currently a Zacks #5 Rank (Strong Sell).

Earnings per share came in at 58 cents, which was ahead of the Zacks Consensus
Estimate of 50 cents. However, beating quarterly expectations has never been a
problem for Intel. The company has an impressive streak of outperformance
stretching back years. Instead, it's all about the guidance.

For the fourth quarter, Intel forecasts revenue of $13.6 billion, plus or
minus $500 million. Therefore, the outlook is right around the Zacks Consensus
Estimate of approximately $13.6 billion.

In and of itself, Intel is still the leader in its industry. The company said
it is pleased with the progress in Ultrabooks and phones. It's also excited
about the range of Intel-based tablets coming out. However, the market is just
not cooperating at the moment, which was even further underscored when main
competitor Advanced Micro Devices recently warned.

We'll have to wait and see how analysts will digest the new numbers, though
Intel is unlikely to see a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) or better for a while.

Marathon Continues Divesting Assets

Leading integrated oil and gas firm Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO) plans
to sell majority of its acreage in Texas' Eagle Ford basin. The company aims
to shed the non-core properties while reorganizing its portfolio following the
spin-off of its refining division last year.

Marathon Oil holds 325,000 acres in Eagle Ford shale and will likely shed
about 100,000 acres in Wilson, Karnes and Bee Counties. It could receive up to
$25,000 an acre on sale of the said assets. Major portion of the land, which
will be put up for sale, is located in Wilson County. The company plans to
sell the acreage as there is no drilling activity in the region.

Over the next five years, management plans capital spending of $1.6 billion
per year in the Eagle Ford. They also expect net production to be 120,000
barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2016.

Management opines that this sale will not affect the company's plan or
production target. Its oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford during the
second quarter of 2012 rose 50% sequentially.

Earlier this month, Marathon Oil announced its plans to offload 80,000 acres
in the Marcellus region in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Houston, Texas-based Marathon – which last year spun off its refining/sales
business into a separate, independent and publicly traded company

Marathon Petroleum Corporation

(NYSE:

MPC

) – retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating). We are also maintaining
our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

Marathon is a leading energy firm with a large and geographically-diverse
reserve base and solid project pipeline. Additionally, the company possesses a
healthy balance sheet, which helps it to capitalize on investment
opportunities. We also like the strong growth potential of Marathon's
high-margin liquids-rich unconventional plays, which diversify its portfolio
and are expected to further drive its overall volumes.

While being incrementally more positive on the company, we believe Marathon
will take some time to fully absorb the outcome of the spin-off. Consequently,
we would rather wait for a better entry point before accumulating shares.

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