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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Exxon Mobil, Merck, Pfizer and Intel

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - February 06, 2017 - 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 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL - Free Report ), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM - Free Report ), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK - Free Report ), Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE - Free Report ) and Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC - Free Report ).

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

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Dow 30 Stock Roundup: AAPL, XOM, MRK, PFE, INTC

The Dow suffered losses over the week as optimism over Trump's election gave way to apprehension over his actions as President. Newly introduced immigration rules led to protests, criticism and legal challenges. Additionally, the tech sector expressed concerns over the impact these regulations would have on their businesses. Trump's approach on trade and foreign policy also led to widespread heartburn and dampened investor sentiment.

Last Week's Performance

The index declined 0.6% on Monday as investors' grappled over President Trump's order to tighten immigration rules. An executive order by Trump banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, including legal residents and visa holders. Such an executive order spawned legal challenges, congressional criticism and widespread protests. Trump had earlier fostered expectations that his administration will be business friendly and therefore good for stocks.

The Dow logged its worst daily loss since mid-October on Monday, while a popular measure of Wall Street fear climbed to its highest level in about three months. Consumer spending increased 0.5% in December, matching the consensus estimate, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The index declined 0.5% on Tuesday amid signs that momentum following President Donald Trump's election victory in November was fading. His signing of an executive order to temporary restrict immigration saw weekend chaos and backlash, eventually affecting stocks. Industrial, technology and financials shares tanked outweighing gains among traditional safe sectors including health-care and utilities. Meantime, a gauge of consumer confidence retreated in January from its highest level in 15 years.

Despite such setbacks, major indexes ended the month higher in what were their first January gains since 2013. The Dow added 0.5% for the month of January. Projections for stronger economic growth and upbeat corporate earnings boosted US stocks for the first January rise in five years. Stocks rallied on hopes that the new administration's policies including lowering of taxes and cutting regulations will bolster economic growth.

The materials sector has fueled the rally, advancing 5.1% so far this year, following a 14% gain in 2016. Technology shares that trailed behind the broader market last year have also recorded sharp gains this year. The sector has risen 3.6% in January, its best month since last July. Earnings in the final quarter of 2016 came on the heels of growth in the third quarter that snapped a 15-month decline in earnings.

The index gained 0.1% on Wednesday after Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL - Free Report ), the largest U.S. company by market cap, reported upbeat earnings. Meanwhile, the Fed ended its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday and revealed that measures of consumer and business sentiment have improved of late. But the Fed kept rates unchanged within a range of 0.5% to 0.75%.

More importantly for investors, the central bank didn't give any sign that it would raise rates in its next meeting in March, putting the probability of such a move at only 18%, according to CME Group. The ISM manufacturing index climbed to 56% last month from 54.5% in December, marking the fifth straight gain and also its highest level since end 2014.

The index declined a meager 0.03% on Thursday after President Donald Trump's approach on trade and foreign policy dented investor sentiment. Investors grappled over Trump's executive order to tighten immigration rules, while the White House warned Iran that the country could face new sanctions over a recent ballistic missile test. Trump also labelled a refugee swap agreement with staunch ally Australia as a "dumb deal" and reiterated concerns about trade ties with Mexico.

Components Moving the Index

Apple 's first quarter of fiscal 2017 earnings of $3.36 per share and revenues of $78.4 billion easily topped the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.22 and $76.9 billion. On a year-over-year basis, both metrics registered growth of 2.4% and 3.3%.

Total iPhone unit sales came in at about 78.3 million, up 5% year over year. Revenues from iPhone also grew 5% from the year-ago quarter to $54.4 billion (69.4% of total revenue).

Services, which include revenues from Internet Services, App store, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Pay, licensing and other services, surged 18% year over year (with extra one week in the quarter) to nearly $7.2 billion.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2017, Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) rated Apple forecasts revenues in a range of $51.5 billion to $53.5 billion. Gross margin is expected within 38% to 39%.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM - Free Report ) reported fourth-quarter 2016 earnings of 90 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 72 cents. The bottom line also came in ahead of 67 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. The stock has a Zacks Rank #3.

Total revenue in the quarter increased to $61,016 million from $59,807 million in the year-ago quarter. The top line also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $60,606 million.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK - Free Report ) reported fourth-quarter 2016 earnings of 89 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 88 cents by a penny. Revenues for the quarter dipped 1% year over year to $10.12 billion, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $10.20 billion by 0.8%.

Full-year sales rose 1% to $39.8 billion, slightly missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $39.9 billion. Revenues were, however, within the guided range of $39.7-$40.2 billion.

Merck expects earnings for 2017 in the range of $3.72-$3.87 per share, including approximately 2% negative foreign exchange impact. Revenues are expected to be in the range of $38.6 billion to $40.1 billion, including negative currency impact of approximately 2%. The stock has a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE - Free Report ) reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 47 cents, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 50 cents by 6%. On the other hand, revenues beat expectations. The pharma heavyweight posted revenues of $13.63 billion, higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $13.55 billion.

Full-year sales rose 8% to $52.82 billion, falling short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $52.89 billion. Adjusted earnings for 2016 were $2.40 per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.41.

Zacks Rank #3 rated Pfizer's 2017 sales outlook fell short of expectations. Revenues are expected in the range of $52 billion to $54 billion. Adjusted earnings per share are expected in the range of $2.50-$2.60.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC - Free Report ) reported fourth-quarter 2016 non-GAAP earnings of 79 cents per share, which increased almost 4% from the year-ago quarter but declined 1.3% sequentially. Earnings per share (EPS) beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4 cents.

The strong year-over-year earnings growth was driven by 9.8% increase in revenues, which totaled $16.37 billion and comfortably surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of nearly $15.80 billion. Revenues increased 3.8% sequentially.

Zacks Rank #3 rated Intel's guided first-quarter 2017 revenues of around $14.8 billion (+/-$500 million), almost flat sequentially. The non-GAAP gross margin is expected to be around 63% (+/-1%). For full-year 2017, management expects revenues to remain flat and gross margin of 63% (+/-2%).

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

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 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 https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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Apple Inc. (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report

Merck & Company, Inc. (MRK): Free Stock Analysis Report

Pfizer, Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report

Intel Corporation (INTC): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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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