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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Jacobs Engineering Group, Fluor and Foster Wheeler AG - Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 23, 2011 - 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 Electronic Arts Inc. ( EA ), Activision Blizzard Inc. ( ATVI ), Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. ( JEC ), Fluor Corporation ( FLR ) and Foster Wheeler AG ( FWLT ).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

EA-Activision Rivalry Goes to Court

Electronic Arts Inc. ( EA ) and Activision Blizzard Inc. ( ATVI ) have been battling it out on the games front, but now they face each other in the court room. California Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled out EA's claim to dismiss Activision's $400-million contract-interference claims. The judge in Los Angeles admitted that Activision had provided sufficient evidence against EA in the aforesaid suit. Thus, the judge ordered the case to move to trial.

When it all started…

It was in March 2011 that Activision had filed the $400 million suit against EA and alleged that the latter had talked to two of the formers' employees who were still under contract. The employees happened to be Jason West and Vince Zampella, the founders of Infinity Ward, famous for the Call of Duty series.

Activision alleged that the two developers had hired agents and secretly met and negotiated with EA executives while still working at Activision in 2009.

Activision complained that EA, aided by Creative Artists Agency, allegedly flew West and Zampella by a private jet from Southern California to San Francisco to attend a barbecue at Electronic Arts CEO John Riccietello's house, in August 2009.

Activision also said that EA had planned to finance and co-own a new studio that was run by West, Zampella and other employees of the Infinity Ward studio, which Activision had bought from West and Zampella in 2003.

West and Zampella had previously filed a $36 million lawsuit against Activision alleging that they were terminated to avoid making royalty payments on "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," the top-selling game in 2010.

Our Take

Basically, EA had the intention of snatching Activision's intellect behind the Call of Duty series, as it has been rapidly gaining market share against its own Medal of Honor series. In the present scenario, Activision does not seem to be under any pressure as Call of Duty has been its most successful franchise to date. The latest release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been working wonders for the company's top line. In this particular case, Activision is in a comfortable position as its stands to gain $400 million if it wins the trial.

EA's Battlefield 3 also has been going good since release and the company has high expectations from Star Wars: The Old Republic . However, EA could be in a bit of a bind if it has to pay off Activision, as it would definitely dent its cash balance.

EA and Activision are two of the biggest developers in the gaming industry. Both companies wield franchises that are worth millions and their rivalry is also well known in the video-game industry.

EA with its strong product pipeline for fiscal 2012 and beyond will drive top-line growth going forward. We believe that high quality titles, an impressive product line, increasing online exposure, social games and portfolio diversification guarantee market share gains over the long term.

We believe that Activsion Blizzard's strong product pipe line and expansion into the online digital segment will drive the top-line. However, the company's limited presence in the social gaming circuit may act as a headwind going forward.

In the long run, we maintain our 'Neutral' rating for both Activision and EA. We currently have a Zacks #2 Rank for Activision Blizzard Inc., which implies a 'Buy' rating in the short term. For EA, we have a Zacks #3 Rank implying a 'Hold' rating in the short term.

Contracts Galore for Jacobs Engineering

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. ( JEC ) recently announced winning of a series of contracts.

The company's Chemetics unit in Pickering, Ontario, Canada was awarded a design and fabrication contract by Aurubis Bulgaria AD. The contract involves installation of two proprietary designed sulfuric acid coolers in the acid plant in Pirdop, Bulgaria. The range of operations entails the design and fabrication of drying and interpass anodically protected sulfuric acid coolers.

The contract has been awarded to Jacobs by Aurubis, a leading integrated copper group and the world's largest copper recycler. Jacobs' Chemetics unit had a long and successful work relationship with the Pirdop facility since 1998 for projects starting from acid coolers to Electrolyte Heaters.

Jacobs' recent contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District for architect-engineering services in support of multi-disciplined construction projects along with alterations and renovations deserves special mention. This contract will not only deliver facilities in support of the Army missions, but will also revive and perpetuate the long history of supporting the Baltimore District. The contract is valued at the firm-fixed-price of $12 million.

In a separate announcement, Jacobs proclaimed winning of a contract from Honeywell to provide engineering services for the expansion of its Baton Rouge, La. manufacturing facility. Jacobs will be executing the project work from its offices in Mt. Laurel, N.J.

The Baton Rouge facility, one of the leading refrigerants suppliers in the U.S., will now be supported by Jacobs to produce Honeywell's new low-global-warming-potential (GWP) blowing agent and propellant (technical name: HFO-1234ze) on a commercial scale. Production of HFO-1234ze is scheduled to begin in late 2013.

The project involves Jacobs being part of a cutting edge next-generation technology targeted to improve the energy efficiency for a multitude of applications.

Jacobs' worldwide ever-increasing presence is thus a splendid indication of its strong growth trajectory in the infrastructure market across the globe. This has also been winning investor confidence over time and is expected to continue with such an outlook in future. The company directly competes with its peers, viz. Fluor Corporation ( FLR ) and Foster Wheeler AG ( FWLT ).

We currently hold a Neutral recommendation on the stock. Jacobs has a Zacks #2 Rank, implying a short-term (1-3 months) Buy rating.

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ACTIVISION BLZD ( ATVI ): Free Stock Analysis Report

ELECTR ARTS INC ( EA ): Free Stock Analysis Report

FLUOR CORP-NEW ( FLR ): Free Stock Analysis Report

FOSTER WHELR AG ( FWLT ): Free Stock Analysis Report

JACOBS ENGIN GR ( JEC ): 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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