The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Eli Lilly, Aetna, Automatic Data Processing, Dollar General and Sprint

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - February 03, 2017 - 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 Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY - Free Report ), Aetna (NYSE: AET - Free Report ), Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP - Free Report ), Dollar General (NYSE: DG - Free Report ) and Sprint (NYSE: S - Free Report ).

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

Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Q4 Scorecard and Analyst Reports for Friday: LLY, ADP, AET

The Zacks Research Daily features the best output of our research team every day. In today's write-up, we are featuring analyst reports on 16 major stocks, including reports on Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY - Free Report ), Aetna (NYSE: AET - Free Report ) and Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP - Free Report ). These stock research reports have been hand-picked from the 70 or so reports published by our analyst team today. You can see all of today's research reports here >>

In addition to these stock research reports, we are also giving you a real-time scorecard of the ongoing Q4 earnings season. We take pride in closely monitoring each and every earnings report and presenting our analysis of emerging trends in the weekly Earnings Trends and Earnings Preview reports. Our latest Earnings Preview report is: 4 Things to Know About the Q4 Earnings Season

Q4 Earnings Scorecard

We crossed the halfway mark in the Q4 earnings season this morning, with results from 258 S&P 500 members, or 51.5% of the index's total membership, already out. Total earnings for the 258 index members that have reported results already are up +7.3% on +3.8% higher revenues, with 68.6% beating EPS estimates and 54.3% beating revenue estimates.

This is better earnings and revenue growth performance than we have seen from this group of 258 S&P 500 members in other recent periods, even after adjusting for the strong growth from the Finance sector. The proportion of companies beating EPS and revenue estimates, however, is tracking below other recent periods.

Looking at Q4 as a whole, combining the actual results from the 258 index members with estimates from the still-to-come 242 companies, total earnings are expected to be up +6.6% from the same period last year on +4% higher revenues. This is the best earnings and revenue growth pace in two years. Importantly, estimates for the current period (2017 Q1) are holding up fairly well; they are coming down, but not at the pace as would typically expected. All of this should help add to confidence in market expectations for the current and following quarters when growth is expected to notably ramp up.

Today's Featured Research Reports

Pharmaceutical stocks have been under pressure since last year on pricing and regulatory concerns and Eli Lily shares have been no different. Lilly's fourth-quarter results were mixed with earnings missing estimates but revenues coming out ahead. But the analyst is encouraged by the fact that Lilly expects to launch 20 new products in a 10 year time-frame ranging from 2014 to 2023 and could launch at least 2 new indications/line extensions on average every year. Moreover, Lilly expects to return to annual dividend increases and to return excess cash through share buybacks. (You can read the full research report on Eli Lilly here >> )

Aetna shares performed strongly following the November election, as did most of the HMO stocks, but the stock has underperformed the peer group since early December on disappointments over the Humana deal. Aetna's Q4 results came in better than expected, but the company continues to struggle in the public exchanges and membership growth remains under pressure. Rising medical benefit ratios and cessation of share buybacks are some of the other negatives in the Aetna story. On the positive side, the analyst points to the company's long-term growth potential from the government business, management's cost-reduction initiatives and a strong balance sheet. (You can read the full research report on Aetna here >> )

ADP shares have gained 16% over the last one year, underperforming the Zacks outsourcing industry, which has gained 19.2% over the same period. ADP reported mixed fiscal second quarter results with earnings surpassing expectations and revenues falling short of estimates. But the analyst likes ADP's dominant position in the payroll processing and human capital management market, primarily due to its robust product portfolio. However, uncertainty over the repeal of ACA and the U.S. business environment post the elections affected second-quarter results. These factors are expected to impact new business bookings, which the company now anticipates to remain flat from fiscal 2016. (You can read the full research report on ADP here >> )

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Dollar General (NYSE: DG - Free Report ) and Sprint (NYSE: S - Free Report ).

Free Access: All Zacks Research

Starting today, you are invited to download in-depth analysis reports covering more than 1,000 of the most widely followed stocks. Valued at $25 each, they are yours to consult over the next 30 days absolutely free. They feature sensitive Zacks Rank information on each stock that you won't find anywhere else. See the reports free >>

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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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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Eli Lilly and Company (LLY): Free Stock Analysis Report

Aetna Inc. (AET): Free Stock Analysis Report

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP): Free Stock Analysis Report

Dollar General Corporation (DG): Free Stock Analysis Report

Sprint Corporation (S): 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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