The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: United Parcel, Merck, BHP, Energy Transfer and Parker-Hannifin

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL -October 22, 2018 - 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: United Parcel ServiceUPS , MerckMRK , BHP BillitonBHP , Energy Transfer PartnersETP and Parker-HannifinPH.

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Top Stock Reports for UPS, Merck and BHP Billiton

The Zacks Research Daily presents the best research output of our analyst team. Today's Research Daily features new research reports on 12 major stocks, including United Parcel Service, Merck and BHP Billiton. These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.

United Parcel Service 's shares have outperformed the Zacks Transportation - Air Freight and Cargo industry in the last three months, gaining +4.2% vs. +0.2%. Solid e-commerce growth is a huge positive for the company and should aid its third-quarter results, scheduled to be disclosed on Oct 24.

Additionally, the company's transformation plan, unveiled in September 2018, is aimed at boosting its bottom line. The Zacks analyst is also impressed by UPS' efforts to reward shareholders. To this end, in February 2018, UPS hiked quarterly dividends by 10%. The company's bullish full-year forecast on free cash flow supports the possibility of a dividend hike in the near future.

Moreover, UPS is leaving no stone unturned to perform well in the upcoming holiday season. It intends to hire roughly 100,000 seasonal workers during the season.

Shares of Merck have gained +11.1% in the last three months, outperforming the Zacks Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry, which gained 3.9% over the same period. Merck's new products like Keytruda, Lynparza, and Bridion should continue to drive sales.

Keytruda sales are gaining strong momentum with approval for additional indications especially in the first-line lung cancer setting as it is the only anti-PD-1 approved in this setting. Animal Health unit is also strong and remains a core growth driver for Merck. Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line.

However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure will continue to be overhangs on the top line. Estimates have gone up ahead of the company's Q3 earnings release. Merck has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.

BHP Billiton 's shares have outperformed the Zacks Mining - Miscellaneous industry over the past six months (3.1% vs. -7.3%). Recently, BHP Billiton entered an agreement to acquire 6.1% interest in SolGold, with which it will gain shares of the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador. The company is also trying to make its operations more efficient on the back of smarter technology adoption across the entire value chain.

BHP has entered agreements for the sale of its onshore U.S. assets for $10.8 billion, to simplify and strengthen its portfolio and generate shareholder returns. Moreover, strong cash flow position, lower debt levels and higher operational efficacy will likely strengthen BHP Billiton's competency in the near term.

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Energy Transfer Partners and Parker-Hannifin.

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

Parker-Hannifin Corporation (PH): Free Stock Analysis Report

BHP Billiton Limited (BHP): Free Stock Analysis Report

United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS): 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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