The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Limited Brands, Gap, Hanesbrands, FedEx and United Parcel Service - Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 6, 2011 - 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 Limited Brands Inc. ( LTD ), Gap Inc. ( GPS ), Hanesbrands Inc. ( HBI ), FedEx Corporation ( FDX ) and United Parcel Service ( UPS ).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Limited Brands' Sales Rise

Limited Brands Inc. ( LTD ), a specialty retailer of women's intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products, recently posted better-than-expected sales results for the four-week period ended November 26, 2011 on the heels of healthy sales at its Victoria's Secret Stores and Bath & Body Works.

The owner of Victoria's Secret Direct and La Senza chains has sustained its growth momentum. Limited Brands' comparable-store sales for November 2011 rose 7% following an increase of 6% in October 2011 and compared with a 10% jump in November 2010.

Comparable-store sales for November increased 11% at Victoria's Secret Stores & Victoria's Secret Beauty and 6% at Bath & Body Works & The White Barn Candle Co. but declined 7% at La Senza. Sales at Victoria's Secret Direct dropped 3%.

Limited Brands, which competes with Gap Inc. ( GPS ) and Hanesbrands Inc. ( HBI ), said that net sales for November fell 2.3% to $872.6 million from $893 million posted in the same month last year.

For the forty-three week period ended November 26, 2011, comparable-store sales surged 10%, whereas net sales jumped 9.5% to $7,721 million from $7,050 million reported in the prior-year period.

Limited Brands is also actively managing its cash flows, and returning much of its free cash via dividends and share repurchases. The company announced a special dividend of $2 per share payable on December 23, 2011, to shareholders of record as of December 12, 2011. Considering this dividend, the company would have returned $12 billion to stockholders since 2000.

Management expects to generate free cash flows of about $700 million during fiscal 2011, and exit the year with a cash balance of about $800 million, taking into account the special dividend that has been declared.

Currently, we have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. Moreover, Limited Brands holds a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term Hold rating.

FedEx Raises Domestic Rates Again

FedEx Corporation ( FDX ) will reportedly raise its freight service prices for the next year. The company's ground and home delivery rates have been raised by 4.9%, effective January.

The hike follows an average rate hike of 3.9% in U.S. domestic, export and import services implemented in October. Concurrently, FedEx had also introduced a general rate hike of 6.75%.

FedEx, along with its peers like United Parcel Service ( UPS ) have been successful in implementing rate hikes even amid a gloomy economic outlook, given the strengthening of freight market fundamentals. Further, the softness in U.S. postal service's business has also aided these companies to gain significant market share.

Despite the price hike, FedEx expects to sustain top-line growth in Ground and Freight segments on strong yields. Part of this momentum is expected to come from international expansion. Moreover, FedEx expects growth in Asia, Latin America, China, India, Mexico and Brazil to augur well. The company also aims at enhancing existing routes and making strategic acquisitions. Accordingly, it bought AFL Pvt. Ltd, a logistics, distribution and express business in India that improved its position in the freight market. Its acquisition of MultiPack, a Mexican domestic express package delivery company, in the second quarter this year was also in sync with its growth strategy.

Further, the company is realigning its network capacity to match weak international volumes due to the drop in Asian demand. Consequently, FedEx has taken several initiatives including reducing flights and frequencies as well as redeploying equipment in other networks to reduce costs.

We believe all these strategic decisions would lead to improved revenue, margins, earnings and cash flow this year and beyond. However, increased investments, competitive threats, unionized workforce and steeper fuel prices could limit the upside potential of the stock.

We are currently reiterating our long-term Neutral rating on FedEx. The stock retains a Zacks #3 (Hold) Rank for the short term.

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FEDEX CORP ( FDX ): Free Stock Analysis Report

GAP INC ( GPS ): Free Stock Analysis Report

HANESBRANDS INC ( HBI ): Free Stock Analysis Report

LIMITED BRANDS ( LTD ): Free Stock Analysis Report

UTD PARCEL SRVC ( UPS ): Free Stock Analysis Report

Zacks Investment Research

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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