) hit a new 52-week high of $72.00 on Mar 12, eventually closing
at $71.96. The closing share price represents a one-year return
of 27.4% and a year-to-date return of 5.1%.
Some of the optimism surrounding the stock can be attributed
to the company's strong correlation to consumer and financial
markets as well as its U.S. and European exposure, which is
witnessing a gradual uptick. Moreover, improving mortgage
environment could be a positive for the stock.
Moreover, management's efforts such as strategic initiatives
for product innovation, expansion of data assets through
acquisitions and continuous share gains in North America were
Apart from this, Equifax has been entering into partnerships
to expand its product portfolio and boost market share. We remain
encouraged by the company's initiative to return cash to
shareholders in the form of dividends. Management increased the
quarterly cash dividend by 14%.
Additionally, Equifax delivered mixed fourth-quarter results.
While Equifax's bottom line matched the Zacks Consensus Estimate,
the top line fell short of the same. However, the company's
revenues increased on a year-over-year basis aided by strong
growth across most its business segments.
The company also provided revenue and earnings forecast for
the first quarter of 2014. Revenues are expected to range between
$575 million and $588 million, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate
stands at $583 million. Earnings are forecasted between 84 cents
and 88 cents. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at 87
Moreover, the company expects to achieve 6% to 8% core growth
during 2015. Improvement in the mortgage market and strategic
acquisitions is also expected to be the growth catalysts for the
However, stiff competition from
Automatic Data Processing Inc.
), and uncertainty in the mortgage sector are the near-term
Currently, Equifax carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors
can consider a better-ranked stock like
) which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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