Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: VeriSign, France Telecom, Citigroup, Bank of America and UBS AG - Press Releases

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 8, 2011 - Zacks Equity Research highlights VeriSign, Inc. ( VRSN ) as the Bull of the Day and France Telecom ( FTE ) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Citigroup Inc. ( C ), Bank of America Corp. ( BAC ) and UBS AG ( UBS ).

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 :

VeriSign, Inc. ( VRSN ) recently reported earnings of $0.35 per share in the third quarter of 2011, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.33. In the past few years, VeriSign has considerably streamlined its business to focus on providing, reliable and secure Internet infrastructure services. The disposal of non-core businesses boosted margins while the buyback of shares helped the bottom line.

The company at present has a new management team. Additionally, we think increased domain fees and ICANN's plan to increase the number of generic domain names should positively impact its results. Earnings estimates have increased recently.

Hence, we upgrade our recommendation to Outperform from Neutral. We set a target price of $40.00, which is derived by applying a target P/E multiple of 30.5x to our 2011 EPS estimate.

Bear of the Day :

We are downgrading our recommendation to Underperform on France Telecom ( FTE ). The company reported lackluster results in the fist nine months due to weak mobile device sales in France, higher VAT rates and challenging economic conditions in Egypt and Cote d'Ivoire.

Although Conquests 2015, exiting of minority holdings, expanding in emerging markets and cost-saving programs remain in place, we believe persistently weak economic conditions, labor concerns, lower mobile termination rates and unfavorable regulatory measures across its key European markets might restrict the upside potential of the stock.

France Telecom continues to invest in the deployment of mobile broadband and fiber optic network in France, 2G and 3G roaming facilities as well as expansion in emerging markets. We believe these investments might increase the company's cost of operation, resulting in lower profits.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog :

Citi to Layoff 4500, Incur Charges

Citigroup Inc. ( C ) is cutting its workforce over the next few quarters as part of its effort to increase efficiency by reducing costs in a challenging operating environment. As a result, the company would incur job cut related charges in the fourth quarter.

In an investor conference Citi's Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said that the job cut will involve around 4,500 positions or less than 2% of its total workforce. The elimination process will start this quarter. The layoffs would result in the company incurring $400 million charge in the fourth quarter.

Citi in fact has an efficiency goal of trimming 3% to 5% of its expenses or about $2 billion each year. In the first three quarters of 2011, the company has already achieved $1.4 billion in cost savings.

Besides the job cut and its related charges, the Citi chief also said that the company will likely incur an additional $500 million in charges in the fourth quarter. Of this, $200 million stems from accounting-related charges associated with its own debt and $300 million related to hedging losses resulting from tightening of credit spreads. The $500 million charge is, however, subject to the spreads at the end of the quarter. Yet, Citi will record $300 million from valuation adjustment due to the lowering of the Japanese corporate tax rates.

With the job cut decision, Citi joins the bandwagon of other biggies such as Bank of America Corp. ( BAC ) and UBS AG ( UBS ) who have opted for job cuts this year in the midst of economic weakness, market uncertainties and tighter regulatory norms that have restricted top-line growth. Hence, the focus is on pruning cost to increase efficiency and remain competitive.

We believe that such a measure is a strategic fit for Citi in this difficult economic environment and would help its profit figure in the days ahead. Citi shares currently retain a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term 'Hold' rating.

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

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

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Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous analyst coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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BANK OF AMER CP ( BAC ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CITIGROUP INC ( C ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
FRANCE TELE-ADR ( FTE ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
UBS AG ( UBS ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
VERISIGN INC ( VRSN ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Zacks Investment Research



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: BAC , C , FTE , UBS , VRSN

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