Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Manulife Financial, Sonoco Products, Canadian Solar, SunPower and LDK Solar

    Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Manulife Financial, Sonoco
               Products, Canadian Solar, SunPower and LDK Solar

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2012

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Zacks Equity Research highlights
Manulife Financial Corp. (NYSE:MFC) as the Bull of the Day and Sonoco Products
Co (NYSE:SON) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research
provides analysis on Canadian Solar Inc. (Nasdaq:CSIQ), SunPower Corporation
(Nasdaq:SPWR) and LDK Solar Company Ltd. (NYSE:LDK).

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

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at
http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

We are upgrading our recommendation on the shares of shares of Manulife
Financial Corp. (NYSE:MFC) to Outperform from Neutral following the recent
announcement by the company to expand into Korea, which marks an expansion in
its key Asian market. The company has also set up a head office in Cambodia.
We believe further penetration in Asian markets will fuel long-term earnings
growth for the company.

Manulife has achieved a great deal in reducing its exposures to potential
equity markets as well as interest rates risk. It has also reduced its
exposure towards interest sensitive products.

Our six-month target price of $15.00 equates to about 39.5x our earnings
estimate for 2012. We view the $0.52 per common share annual dividend as
secure, implying an expected total return of about 25.0% over that period.
This is consistent with our Outperform recommendation on the shares.

Bear of the Day:

Sonoco Products Co's (NYSE:SON) second-quarter 2012 adjusted earnings per
share decreased 3% to $0.58, but net sales increased 6.6% to $1.2 billion.
While EPS was in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate, revenue failed to top
expectations. Sonoco has trimmed its 3Q12 EPS guidance citing operational
problems in its North American papermaking operations.

Furthermore, Sonoco has experienced lower-than-expected volume in many of its
consumer and industrial businesses. Volatile raw material prices and
uncertainty among its customers, given the slow recovery in the U.S and
ongoing European weakness, higher pension costs remain headwinds for the
company in fiscal 2012.

Accordingly, we have downgraded our recommendation on Sonoco from Neutral to
Underperform. Our target price is $28 or 12.8x our 2012 EPS estimate.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Earnings Preview: Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar Inc. (Nasdaq:CSIQ), a low cost, vertically-integrated solar
module producer with predominantly China-based manufacturing assets, is
scheduled to report its third-quarter 2012 financial results on Monday,
November 19, 2012. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third quarter of 2012
is a loss of 63 cents per share (year-over-year improvement of 49.19%) on
revenues of $377 million (year-over-year decrease of 24.60%).

Second Quarter 2012, a Synopsis

Canadian Solar Inc. reported higher losses for the second quarter of 2012. In
the quarter, the company with a loss per share of $0.57 missed the Zacks
Consensus Estimate of a loss of $0.30 per share. Results were also much lower
when compared to earnings of $0.24 in the year-ago period. The shortfall was
primarily due to the decline in average selling prices, partially offset by
lower manufacturing costs, higher shipment volume and the positive effect of
the warranty insurance adjustment.

Canadian Solar had revenues of $348.2 million, falling behind the Zacks
Consensus Estimate of $393 million. Revenue was, however, up 6.9% from $325.8
million in the first quarter of 2012 and down 27.7% from $481.8 million in the
second quarter of 2011.

Solar module shipments in the reported quarter totaled 412 megawatts (MW),
compared with 343 MW for the first quarter 2012 and 287 MW for the second
quarter of 2011. Total solar module shipments for the second quarter of 2012
included 8.7 MW used in the company's total solutions business. By geography,
in the second quarter of 2012, sales to European markets represented 69.4% of
net revenue, sales to North America represented 15.7% of net revenue, and
sales to Asia and all other markets represented 14.9% of net revenue. In the
above order, first quarter of 2012 revenue breakdown was 42.6%, 45.1% and
12.3%, respectively, and in the second quarter of 2011 the breakdown was
76.6%, 15.2% and 8.2%, respectively.

Gross profit in the second quarter of 2012 was $43.2 million, compared with
$25.1 million in the first quarter of 2012 and $63.7 million in the second
quarter of 2011. The sequential increase in gross profit was primarily due to
the increase in revenue as a result of higher shipment volume, as well as an
adjustment resulting from the recognition of the benefit from the company's
purchased warranty insurance.

Read our full coverage on this earnings report: Canadian Solar Posts Higher
Losses

Third Quarter 2012 Consensus

Analysts surveyed by Zacks expect Canadian Solar to post third-quarter 2012
loss of 63 cents a share. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate represents a
year-over-year improvement of 49.19%. Analyst estimates for the quarter range
from a loss of 92 cents to break-even.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate has remained flat over the last 30 days;
as none of the 4 analysts covering the stock revised their estimates, with the
consensus trending towards the status quo.

Earnings Surprise History

With respect to earnings surprises, Canadian Solar has reported below the
Zacks Consensus Estimate in three out of the last four quarters with an
average of negative 120.59%. This suggests that Canadian Solar has
underperformed average analyst expectations during this period.

Canadian Solar Neutral

Canadian Solar is a vertically-integrated manufacturer of silicon ingots,
wafers, cells, solar modules and custom-designed solar power applications. The
company sells its products to customers worldwide, spread across Germany,
Spain, the U.S., France, the Czech Republic, Italy, South Korea, Canada and
China.

Canadian Solar offers one of the broadest crystalline silicon solar module
product lines in the industry, ranging from modules made of medium power,
low-cost upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon, to high efficiency, high power
output mono-crystalline modules, along with a range of specialty products.

Canadian Solar's standard solar modules are sold to distributors and system
integrators, and specialty solar modules and products to various
manufacturers, who integrate these solar modules into their own products or
sell and market them as part of their own product portfolio.

Canadian Solar's China-based manufacturing assets have a distinct cost
advantage over its peers. The company also pursues a balanced and diversified
supply channel mix by entering into long-term supply contracts and toll
manufacturing arrangements. In addition to in-house solar cell, wafer and
ingot manufacturing, it is also ramping up its internal solar cell capacity to
cut back its reliance on third party solar cells for the manufacture of solar
modules.

The prospects for Canadian Solar look favorable based on a
geographically-diverse customer base and improving operating efficiencies
through its vertically-integrated manufacturing operation.

However, in the near term, fortunes will be impacted by the industry-wide
oversupply, leading to sharply falling Average Selling Prices, tepid module
demand in Europe and rising competition in the market. Given the industry-wide
high inventory level, we do not foresee any short-term improvement in the
margins of the company.

Like its peers SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq:SPWR) and LDK Solar Company Ltd.
(NYSE:LDK), the company presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold)
that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to
http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

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