The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Berkshire Hathaway, American Equity Investment Life Holding, Jones Lang LaSalle, Lazard and Evercore

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - Dec 19, 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 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B , American Equity Investment Life Holding CompanyAEL , Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.JLL, Lazard Ltd.LAZ and Evercore Inc.EVR .

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Finance Stocks that Beat Berkshire Hathaway in 2017

Finance stocks have been gaining momentum on the back of the recent interest rate hikes by the Fed since the end of 2016. A decent interest-rate environment has favored almost all the industries under the Finance sector (except REITs). The sector's stocks have witnessed solid revenue growth driven by higher investment income. The investment companies, banks, consumer loan companies, etc., have substantially benefitted from the rate hikes.

The Fed's decision to reduce its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to strengthen its balance sheet has also favored the Finance sector.

So far in 2017, the unemployment rate has dipped to 4.2% accompanied by 2.9% year-over-year growth in the wage rate. These have positively impacted overall disposable income leading to higher consumer spending. The Fed also provided an optimistic unemployment outlook. Unemployment rate is further expected to decline to 3.9% in 2018.

Notably, the strengthening of the global economy has fueled investment activities in the Finance sector that have boosted the stocks' long-term growth potential. Expectations of continued increase in interest rates along with reforms proposed by the Trump administration are likely to keep the momentum alive. Progressing economy, encouraging employment data, stringent underwriting standards as well as capital influx continues to infuse confidence in investors.

Why Berkshire Is a Benchmark

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is a conglomerate with more than 90 subsidiaries engaged in businesses ranging from ice cream to insurance. Holding shares of Berkshire Hathaway render dynamism to a shareholder's portfolio. Moreover, Warren Buffett's investment strategies through this company have created a tremendous value for shareholders over the last 51 years.

The company's shares have rallied 21.3% year to date, outperforming the Zacks Property & Casualty Insurance industry 's gain of 17.7%. The stock slightly underperformed nearly 23% gain of the S&P 500.

However, the company's earnings do not have a record of beating estimates. It delivered negative earnings surprises in three of the last four quarters with an average miss of 17.02%. The company failed to beat expectations in the quarters due to huge catastrophe losses and a reduction in operating earnings from Insurance Operations, plus Finance & Financial products.

There are stocks which may not be as big as Berkshire Hathaway but can be worth considering on the back of their solid performance. (Looking for the Best Stocks for 2018? Be among the first to see our Top Ten Stocks for 2018 portfolio here .)

Stocks That Warrant a Look

We have zeroed in on five stocks from the finance sector with market capitalization of at least $1 billion that have outperformed Warren Buffett's Berkshire year to date. The stocks have also surpassed expectations in each of the last three quarters. Each of these stocks is buy rated and has a favorable VGM Score. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

American Equity Investment Life Holding Company is a life insurance company with a market cap of $2.9 billion. The Zacks Rank #1 insurer has gained nearly 40% year to date, outpacing Berkshire Hathaway. Also, the stock has a VGM Score of A. American Equity's three-quarter average beat is 28.8%.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. is a real estate company with a market cap of $6.8 billion. Its shares have rallied 47%, outperforming Berkshire year to date. The stock also sports a Zacks Rank #1 and has a VGM Score of A. The company's three-quarter average beat is 23.5%.

Lazard Ltd. is an investment management company with market cap of $6.7 billion. The stock has returned 25.4% year to date, outperforming Berkshire Hathaway. The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) insurer has a VGM Score of A. Lazard's three-quarter average beat is 14.2%.

Evercore Inc. is an investment bank with market cap of $3.5 billion. Its shares have gained 30.6%, outpacing Berkshire Hathaway year to date. The company carries a Zacks Rank #2 and has a VGM Score of A. Evercore's three-quarter average beat is 16.7%.

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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.

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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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Evercore Inc (EVR): Free Stock Analysis Report

Lazard Ltd. (LAZ): Free Stock Analysis Report

American Equity Investment Life Holding Company (AEL): Free Stock Analysis Report

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B): Free Stock Analysis Report

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL): 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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