ePlus, Randgold Resources and ExxonMobil highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - January 05, 2017 - Zacks Equity Research highlights ePlus (Nasdaq: PLUS - Free Report ) as the Bull of the Day and Randgold Resources (Nasdaq: GOLD - Free Report ) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM - Free Report ).

Here is a synopsis of all three stocks:

Bull of the Day :

ePlus (Nasdaq: PLUS - Free Report ) is an $823 million technology integrator and solutions provider to corporate enterprise, healthcare, education, and public sector/government institutions across North America.

Big top and bottom line beats reported in early November for their fiscal 2017 second-quarter have estimates rising into next year and consequently the stock is back to a Zacks #1 Rank Strong Buy.

With a record $1.268 billion in sales for the past 12 months ending in September -- giving it a very attractive Price-to-Sales ratio of 0.65 -- ePlus is focused primarily on specialized IT segments including data center infrastructure, networking, security, cloud and communications collaboration.

The company's solutions incorporate hardware and software products from multiple leading IT vendors. And in December PLUS added a small vendor to its portfolio of services with the acquisition of Minnesota-based Consolidated Communications Holdings, half of whose 2015 revenue of $55 million was derived as a Cisco gold partner.

Q2's Big Beats

While the Wall Street consensus was looking for EPS of $2 on revenues of $339 million, ePlus delivered EPS of $2.47 on sales of $371.5 million. Here were the highlights from the company release...

Net sales increased 10.5% to $371.5 million; technology segment net sales increased 11.3% to $362.7 million.

Adjusted gross billings of product and services increased 13.0% to $487.3 million.

Gross margin on sales of product and services expanded 80 basis points to 20.2%; consolidated gross margin increased 70 basis points to 22.1%.

Net earnings increased 7.0% to $16.8 million.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 7.4% to $29.9 million.

Diluted earnings per share increased 12.6% to $2.42. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share increased 12.8% to $2.47.

The ePlus Hospital Without Walls Solution

No better example of the innovative and critical solutions ePlus is trusted with can be found than in the healthcare sector with this week's news.

On January 4, PLUS announced that it designed and deployed a full technology infrastructure upgrade for Garrett Regional Medical Center in Maryland. This was important to the hospital as they fulfill the unique function of being a "border" hospital the serves patients from West Virginia and even Pennsylvania too.

The solution included:

Desktop and server virtualization

Storage area network

Wireless and telemedicine infrastructure

Disaster recovery

Garrett Regional Medical Center is a 55-bed, not-for-profit, acute care facility with a long history of serving the health care needs of Garrett County, Maryland and the surrounding communities in West Virginia.

The technology refresh for Garrett enables streamlined applications and clinician access, bedside medication verification, improved user experience, enhanced collaboration on patient cases, and continuity of care.

Bear of the Day :

Since early November, when Randgold Resources (Nasdaq: GOLD - Free Report ) delivered a big earnings miss, forward EPS estimates have been slashed, pushing the stock to the cellar of the Zacks Rank again.

In the past 60 days, the Zacks consensus EPS for 2016 was knocked down 11% from $3.28 to $2.92. And full-year 2017 profit projections were also cut just over 10% from $4.20 to $3.77.

It's no surprise that gold miner earnings and shares should have taken a breather from their terrific rally in the first half of 2016 as the price of the yellow metal, as measured by the SPDR Gold Shares ETF , started topping this summer and dropping this autumn.

What may be a surprise for gold investors is if the drop continues as interest rates rise and the dollar pushes higher.

Some analysts aren't too worried. Here's the group at Clarus Securities after the Randgold earnings miss...

Randgold announced Q3/16 operating and financial results that were below our estimates. Annualized production of 1.17 Moz (million ounces) and total cash costs of $679/oz are slightly below full year 2016 guidance of 1.25 - 1.30 Moz at total cash costs of $590 - $630/oz and we see the need of an exceptional Q4/16 in terms of production and costs to enable the company to meet its full year guidance. We are encouraged by management's goal to further boost its current production by adding three new projects in the next five years. We maintain our ACCUMULATE rating and target price of US$95.00/share.

Industry Luster

Another way to keep an eye on the story is to watch the companies collectively. You can, of course, do that via the VanEck Gold Miners ETF . But the best way to watch their collective earnings momentum is through the Zacks Industry Rank.

Currently, Gold Miners are in the bottom 24% of industries at 201 out of 265.

That's because so many of the miners have negative earnings momentum now after the drop in the commodity. So keep an eye on the Zacks Rank and Industry Rank to let you know which direction the metal and it's miners are headed next.

Additional Content

Exxon, Tillerson Reach Deal to Cut Ties

On Tuesday, oil giant ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM - Free Report ) and President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, have agreed to cut all ties and comply with conflict of interest requirements as the former chairman and CEO awaits confirmation.

The retirement deal was reached with Exxon's board of directors, and is worth about $180 million. If Tillerson is confirmed as secretary of state, the value of over 2 million deferred XOM shares that he would have received over the next decade would be placed in an independently managed trust account, said Exxon in a statement .

Tillerson would also surrender "entitlement" to over $4.1 million in cash bonuses, scheduled to pay out over the course of the next three years. The former CEO has also committed to the State Department, separate to the deal with Exxon, to sell more than 600,000 shares in ExxonMobil he currently owns if he is confirmed for the role, and to not work in the oil and gas industry for 10 years.

A confirmation hearing is tentatively scheduled for next week, and Tillerson's extensive business ties to world leaders, especially Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected to be a focus point.

Zacks' Top 10 Stocks for 2017

In addition to the stocks discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 finest buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2017? As of early December, the 2016 Top 10 produced 5 double-digit winners including oil and natural gas giant Pioneer Natural Resources which racked up a stellar +50% gain. The new list is painstakingly hand-picked from 4,400 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Be among the very first to see it>>

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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 likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About Zacks Equity Research

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.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They're virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today's 220 Zacks Rank #1 "Strong Buys" were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free >>.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss.

This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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

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

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