The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Covidien

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup,
                           Wells Fargo and Covidien

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2013

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2013 /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 JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM),
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Wells Fargo &
Company (NYSE:WFC) and Covidienplc. (NYSE:COV).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Foreclosure Activity Slowing Down

Signaling a steady recovery in the housing market, the foreclosure market
report released by RealtyTrac revealed a slump in the overall foreclosure
activity in 2012. As per this leading online marketplace of foreclosure
properties, foreclosure filings slipped 3% from 2011 and plunged 36% from
2010. This brought the aggregate number of properties receiving default,
auction or repossession notices to 1,836,634.

Though overall foreclosure activity dipped in 2012, it hiked in 25 states on a
year-over-year basis. Out of these, 20 states use the judicial foreclosure
process. Yet, foreclosure activity fell in 25 states (19 of these states use
the non-judicial foreclosure process) from the 2011 levels. The top 10 states
with the highest foreclosure rates were Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia,
Illinois, California, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina and Colorado.

Further, by the end of 2012, above 1.5 million homes were at some stage of
foreclosure process or bank-owned, rising 9% from the end of 2011, but down
31% from the end of 2010. Nevertheless, the rise in property prices enabled
many homeowners to come out of negative equity. In Jan 2013, nearly 10.9
million homeowners across the country were underwater, down from 12.5 million
in Jan 2012.

Decline in overall foreclosure activity was largely due to the switching of
mortgage servicers and the government to other options – short sale,
refinancing of loans and loan modifications – to prevent foreclosures.
However, the dip in foreclosures is expected to be at an uneven pace, as
processes that are being used in handling these vary from state to state.

Foreclosure activity is expected to rise in judicial states early this year as
these states have substantial backlogs to clear. Further, there would be
another wave of rise at the end of year in non-judicial states as major
lenders – JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America Corporation
(NYSE:BAC), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), Ally Financial Inc. and Wells Fargo &
Company (NYSE:WFC) – adjust to the new rules set under the National Mortgage
Settlement as well as several other laws.

Yet, we believe that the gradually stabilizing housing sector and falling
unemployment rate are likely to aid homeowners to avoid foreclosures in the
near term. Also, the rate at which properties are entering the foreclosure
procedure is expected to trend down gradually, thereby lifting the housing
prices going forward. Moreover, the housing market will get an opportunity to
regain a solid foothold if there are sufficient buyers for these properties.

Covidien Reveals OneShot for Hypertension

International health care product major, Covidienplc. (NYSE:COV) recently
revealed the commercialization of its OneShot Renal Denervation System. This
offering is used to treat hypertension. OneShot received CE Mark approval in
early 2012. It will be launched in EMEA and Latin America in the next few
months.

Hypertension afflicts about a billion people globally. It is a chronic state
that places victims at greater risk of heart disease, kidney problems and
stroke. 10% to 15% of hypertension patients do not respond to standard
therapy. Such patients are expected to benefit from OneShot, which is an
offering with less procedure time than other options.

Covidien is a leading global health care product manufacturing company that
develops and markets medical solutions for better patient outcomes. It has a
history of developing and manufacturing high-quality products in a
cost-effective manner. Covidien continues to expand both organically as well
as inorganically, despite a challenging Med-tech environment.

We see opportunities for multiple expansion, based on the strength and
diversity of the company's business and its ability to grow on the back of
strategic investments and portfolio reshaping initiatives toward
high-growth/high-margin businesses. Additionally, the exit of a competitor has
created opportunities for the company to gain market share in the U.S.

Further, Covidien remains committed to delivering incremental returns to its
investors. The company raised its commitment to return more than 50% of its
free cash flow to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases.

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