The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Walgreens

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and
                                  Walgreens

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, July 3, 2013

CHICAGO, July 3, 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 Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free
Report), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), Google (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report),
Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report) and Walgreens (NYSE:WAG-Free Report).

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

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of
the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Microsoft Continues Surface Expansion

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report) recently announced that it would
expand the availability of its Surface family of tablets to businesses,
allowing customers to purchase the devices from authorized resellers in the
United States.

Earlier, Surface was available only through the Microsoft Store in the U.S.
and Canada. But now, a number of authorized distributors (Ingram Micro, SYNNEX
Corp and Tech Data Corp)will sell the devices to authorized resellers, which
will distribute the Surface through their brick and mortar stores around the
world. These resellers include CDW, CompuCom Systems Inc., En Pointe
Technologies, Insight Enterprises Inc., PC Connection Inc., PCM Inc., SHI
International Corp., Softchoice, Softmart and Zones Inc.

Additionally, Microsoft is introducing a new program called AppsForSurface for
independent software vendors (ISVs). Under the program, Microsoft will provide
devices and funds for Surface-specific software development for their easy
adoption at enterprise, government and academic organizations. This move could
potentially boost enterprise adoption of Microsoft's Windows 8 and RT tablets.

Microsoft Surface was launched worldwide on Oct 26, 2012, with a price tag of
$499.0, which makes it comparatively expensive. Microsoft offers two versions
of its Surface tablets to the consumer, one with Windows RT and another with
Windows 8 Pro.

According to IDC, only 900,000 Surface tablets were sold during the fourth
quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 and its market share was just
1.8%. In comparison, Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) led the race with a 39.6%
share of the worldwide tablet market, followed by Samsung with a 17.9%share,
and ASUS with a 5.5% share.

The addition of authorized resellers is just the latest effort by the company
to expand the availability of its Surface range in 2013. Last month, Microsoft
reduced the price of the Surface RT model to $199 from $499 for schools
purchasing it directly from Microsoft. In mid-December, the company added more
retail outlets from where its tablet could be sold. Further, Microsoft
transformed several holiday stores into permanent Microsoft retail outlets.
Most recently, it tied up with Best Buy to create Windows Stores within Best
Buy stores.

So far, Surface has been sold only at Microsoft stores and the apps have
focused on consumers and individual business users. But this new move should
help Microsoft expand its presence in the enterprise segment, which has been
its greatest support in the PC segment.

Although Microsoft has fallen back in the tablet race, there is still time to
create its own niche. Combining the functionality of a tablet and laptop,
Surface can create interest and attract new users. We should also not forget
its deep pockets, which gives it the power to conceive of and implement
strategies like AppsForSurface.

Microsoft is a late entrant in the tablet market and beating the competition
at this point will be an uphill task. Other successful tablets such as Apple's
iPads, Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) Nexus 7, Samsung's Galaxy tablets
and Amazon's (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report) Kindle Fire already have a strong
presence in the market.

The popularity of tablets has eaten into Microsoft's core computing market,
with the weak economic conditions making matters worse. Given its dominant
position in the PC market, Microsoft has been one of the worst affected by
this weakness.

Currently, Microsoft has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Walgreens' Focus on Retail Pharmacy

In a concerted effort to improve patient access to vaccines across Indiana,
Walgreens (NYSE:WAG-Free Report) supplied additional doses of vaccine to 204
locations in the state. The move is a strategic beneficial maneuver as the new
Indiana State law takes effect, from Jul 1, 2013.

As advocated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
pharmacists in Indiana are entitled to provide immunizations to all
adolescents and adults with a prescription. Following the new state
legislation, five of these vaccines will be available without a prescription
and without any prior appointment at Walgreens pharmacies on a regular basis.

Subsequently, Influenza, Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), Human
papillomavirus (HPV), or Meningococcal vaccines will be accessible at
Walgreens pharmacies across Indiana to patients aged over 11 years. The easy
accessibility to these vaccines is intended to improve protection for
individuals against meningitis, pneumonia and whooping cough among other
infectious disease.

Moreover, patients over 65 years of age in the state will not require a
prescription for Pneumococcal vaccine. The flu shots will also be available
from Aug 2013.

Our View

With the new state legislation in place, demand for vaccines in Indiana is
likely to soar. While Walgreens' decision appears to be a rational and
lucrative opportunity to garner incremental revenues.

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the Day pick for free.

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