CNO Financial, Stone Energy Corp, Google, Apple and Amazon highlighted as
Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
CHICAGO, Jan. 18, 2013
CHICAGO, Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Zacks Equity Research highlights CNO
Financial (NYSE:CNO) as the Bull of the Day and Stone Energy Corp (NYSE: SGY)
as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis
ontheGoogle Inc. (GOOG), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN).
Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:
Bull of the Day:
We are upgrading our recommendation on CNO Financial (CNO) to Outperform based
on the hike in its buyback program and prospects of significant capital
deployment in 2013. The latest recapitalization plan has also improved the
capital structure and debt maturity profile. It is also expected to augment
the bottom line and ROE.
However, high financial leverage and constantly deteriorating Bankers Life
segment results are the downsides. The company's third-quarter earnings
surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the year-ago numbers on the back of
favorable trends in annuity spreads, improved top line and benefit ratios and
better investment results.
Improved credit ratings, strong investment portfolio and declining expenses
are the other positives. Although underwriting and pricing challenges remain
primary concerns, increasing new business volume and cost containment measures
are expected to support the bottom line in the long run.
Bear of the Day:
We are downgrading our recommendation on Stone Energy Corp (SGY) to
Underperform from Neutral. The company missed our expectation in the third
quarter of 2012 and its quarterly earnings also plunged 54.7% from the
year-earlier profit level, mainly due to lower price realization and higher
The spiraling lease operating expenses added to Stone Energy's woes due to
high seasonal maintenance costs and the effects of Hurricane Isaac. Again, its
results are heavily dependent on growth visibility at its onshore properties
as well as the outcome of various deepwater exploration prospects.
Given these headwinds, we expect the shares of Stone Energy to be under
pressure in the near future. Our $19 price objective reflects a 2013 P/E
multiple of 9.2x.
Google Challenges iTunes
Google Inc. (GOOG) has introduced a music service that allows customers to buy
songs from the Android Market. The service is expected to compete directly
with its rival Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iTune services.
Google has now entered into partnerships with roughly 1000 record companies
and thus can offer 13 million songs. Free storage and streaming of 20,000
songs on Google Music remain as part of the original service. In addition,
Google will feature reviews, band information and exclusive content from
artists. It will also allow the artists to design their own pages, which will
feature their videos, biographies and self-published music for a one-time fee
Google has been improving its music service in the last few months. Recently,
Google Music came out with a new scan and match feature to better compete with
its rivals. The feature allowed a user's music to be matched in the cloud so
that songs could be played on any authorized device. The service enables users
to upload their music to the cloud from their respective files.
The storage of music in the cloud is growing in popularity, with iTunes
offering space for 25,000 songs, Google 20,000 songs and Amazon (AMZN) through
its own service called Cloud Player 250,000.
According to the market research company, NPD Group, Apple accounted for 64.0%
of U.S. online music sales in the second quarter, followed by Amazon at 16.0%.
Google notched a mere 5.0% share and other services made up the rest. While
Google remains far behind, its free service for the broadest selection could
According to the market research company, IDC, Android shipments touched 136.0
million units in the third quarter of fiscal 2012, which is 75.0% of overall
shipments and was followed by Apple's iOS that accounted for 15.0%. Google is
dominating the OS space.
Google's rapid expansion into music, television, movies, consumer items (rice
cookers, refrigerators, cameras) is an attempt to attract more users to
Android. It is also going all out to break Apple's dominance in online music.
In the third quarter of fiscal 2012, Google's gross revenue (including TAC)
touched a record $14.10 billion, representing sequential and year-over-year
increases of 28.6% and 45.1%, respectively.
Total revenue, excluding total traffic acquisition costs, came in at $11.34
billion, 4.4% lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $11.86 billion.
Google, Amazon and Apple all have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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About the Bull and Bear of the Day
Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are
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