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Notable Wall Street analyst opinions on stocks in the news for the week of Apr. 12-Apr. 16:
Double-Take Software Inc.: Lazard Capital equity analyst Joel Fishbein kept a buy rating and $11 price target on shares of Double-Take Software Inc. (DBTK) on Apr. 12.
On Apr. 12, the maker of software to protect data said it received âindications of interestâ to acquire the company.
In a note, Fishbein said that Double-Take's reduced first-quarter view of 1 cent to 2 cents in EPS and $18.8 million to $18.9 million in revenue misses his respective estimates of 4 cents and $21.1 million. The analyst noted that while software licenses were up year-over-year, they didn't rebound as expected.
As for the company's statement that it received indications of takeover interest, Fishbein said he sees an acquisition as very likely. He noted that the data protection market is "ripe for consolidation". Based on the company's market position and cash flow, the analyst said he thinks Double-Take would most likely command a significant premium to current trading multiples.
MasterCard Inc.: Standard & Poor's equity analyst Zaineb Bokhari lowered a rating on shares of MasterCard Inc. (MA) to hold from buy on Apr. 12. The analyst has a $270 price target on the shares.
On Apr. 12, MasterCard, the second-biggest electronic-payments network after Visa Inc., named Ajay Banga chief executive officer, 10 months after hiring him as a potential successor to Robert W. Selander.
Banga, 50, will take the top position on July 1, the company said in a statement. Selander, 59, will continue as executive vice chairman and a member of the board of directors until he retires on Dec. 31.
In a note, Bokhari said the rating change was based on the stockâs valuation. The analyst noted that Banga has had a "very brief" tenure at MasterCard, joining in August 2009, but served in several senior executive roles at Citigroup Inc. (C), most recently as the head of Citigroup's global consumer group and as CEO of Citi Asia Pacific.
"We expect the transition to be smooth, but at recent levels, see less upside to our $270 target price," Bokhari wrote.
After the close of trading Apr. 12, Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, reported a narrower first-quarter net loss and revenue that trailed analysts' estimates as higher prices failed to compensate for declining sales of sheet for cans.
The net loss of $201 million, or 20 cents a share, narrowed from a net loss of $497 million, or 61 cents, a year earlier, Alcoa said in a statement. Sales rose 18% to $4.89 billion. Earnings excluding certain items were 10 cents a share, exceeding the 9-cent average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
In a note, MacArthur said Alcoa's adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 10 cents was above his estimate of 6 cents. He said the results were "better than expected" due to a higher realized aluminum price and lower realized tax rate.
The analyst cut earnings per share (EPS) estimates for 2010 to 93 cents from $1.59, for 2011 to $1.46 from $1.81, and for 2012 to $1.41 from $1.81 to reflect updated costs, taxes, foreign currency translation, and realized aluminum prices in 2010.
Infosys, which designs and builds software programs, maintains computers and provides back-office support for clients, said on Apr. 13 that its fourth-quarter net income rose 0.6% to 16.2 billion rupees ($364 million) in the three months ended March 31 from a year earlier, exceeding the 16.1 billion rupee average of 35 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 5.3% to 59.4 billion rupees, beating the upper end of the company's January forecast for revenue at 57.2 billion rupees.
Infosys forecast sales may grow at the fastest pace in three years as âchallengingâ economic conditions prompt more companies to outsource computing services. Revenue in the 12 months ending March 31, 2011, may increase as much as 18 percent to $5.67 billion, the company said. That would be the fastest pace of sales growth at the Bangalore-based company since a 35% jump in the year through March 2008. Infosys said earnings per American depositary share (ADS) may increase as much as 8.6% for the full year to $2.50.
Suri said in a note that the company's fourth-quarter earnings per ADS of 61 cents beat his estimate of 56 cents on better-than-expected volume growth. The analyst said he "likes" the company's revenue expectations of $1.33 billion to $1.34 billion for the first quarter and $5.57 billion to $5.67 billion for all of fiscal 2011 (ending March), although he remains concerned operating margin could fall on a strengthening rupee, wage inflation, a higher percentage of on-site consulting business, and a rise in employee attrition.
The analyst said he feels the company can offset many of these factors through volume growth, among other things; he expects it to continue to outperform estimates, potentially growing revenues by more than 20% in the coming year. He raised his earnings per ADS estimates for the first quarter to 56 cents from 55 cents, and for fiscal 2011 to $2.44 from $2.32.
After the close of trading Apr. 13, Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, said first-quarter net income climbed to $2.44 billion, or 43 cents a share, from $629 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier. Analysts projected 38 cents a share. Revenue increased 44% to $10.3 billion, compared with the average estimate of $9.85 billion.
Intel also forecast record profit margins for the year. Second-quarter revenue will climb as high as $10.6 billion, exceeding analysts' predictions, Intel said.
In a note, Bolton said Intel's gross margin was the key highlight of its first-quarter results; not only did it exceed the company's guidance by 240 basis points, but the company raised its 2010 annual gross margin target by 300 basis points to 64%. Bolton attributed the gross margin growth to higher-than-expected average selling prices and lower-than-expected manufacturing costs.
With gross margin well above forecasts, and inventories at "healthy" levels, Bolton raised EPS estimates for 2010 to $1.82 from $1.68, and for 2011 to $1.88 from $1.75.
McDonald's Corp.: Janney Montgomery Scott equity analyst Mark Kalinowski raised a rating on shares of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) to buy from neutral on Apr. 14. He also raised a fair value estimate on the shares to $75 from $62.
In a note, Kalinowski said the rating change on the world's largest restaurant company was driven by what he sees as improving same-store sales trends in the U.S. Based on the results of a proprietary Janney survey of McDonald's franchisees, the analyst raised a forecast for March U.S. same-store sales growth to 2.9% from 1.5%.
"If McDonald's manages to report a U.S. same-store sales gain for March in the ballpark of 3%, it would mark the first month since September 2009 that McDonald's U.S. comps would have broken out of the -1% to 1% range," the analyst wrote. "This would bode well for the remainder of 2010 in the U.S., as year-over-year comparisons are meaningfully easier over May-December". Kalinowski noted that McDonald's plans to report its March same-store sales numbers as part of its first-quarter earnings release on Apr. 21.
Kalinkowski said that a strengthening U.S. dollar would provide a four-cent boost to first-quarter EPS, while reducing EPS by 1 cent in the second quarter, 3 cents to 4 cents in the third quarter, and 5 cents to 6 cents in the fourth quarter.
"Although we are lowering our EPS estimates, we nevertheless raise our fair value estimate on MCD ... we believe that investors will care relatively less about earnings-estimate cuts due to currencies, and relatively more about improving U.S. sales trends," the analyst said.
On Apr. 14, MGM Mirage, the biggest casino owner on the Las Vegas Strip, posted a preliminary first-quarter loss of $96.7 million and said it will issue $750 million in convertible debt. The loss amounted to 22 cents a share, and included costs to write down condominiums at the new CityCenter resort in Las Vegas, where room rates and earnings continued to fall, the Las Vegas-based company said in a statement.
Katz said in a note that the company's preliminary adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, of $236.2 million was below his $314.2 million estimate, while its adjusted loss per share of 30 cents compared with his estimate for a loss of 23 cents. He noted that results at most of MGM Grand's properties were below his forecasts, with particular weakness at Mandalay and Circus Circus.
The analyst lowered a 2010 estimate on EBITDA to $1.0483 billion from $1.2729 billion and widened a loss per share estimate to 97 cents from 79 cents.
Katz said MGM Grand is further capitalizing on the "presently high trading level" of its shares by pursuing a convertible offering, which he believes is prudent, although it could pressure the shares in the near term.
United Parcel Service Inc.: Jesup & Lamont equity analyst Helane Becker reiterated a buy rating on shares of United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) on Apr. 15. She also raised a price target on the shares to $82.50 from $71.
United Parcel Service boosted its full-year forecast on Apr. 14 as rising demand for overseas shipments led the world's largest package-delivery company to a first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates. Earnings excluding some items were 71 cents a share, Atlanta-based UPS said as it reported partial financial results. Analysts expected 57 cents, the average of 19 projections compiled by Bloomberg. The first-quarter profit including all items was 53 cents a share, compared with 40 cents a year earlier, UPS said. The adjusted earnings of 71 cents compared with 52 cents on that basis in 2009.
International shipments rose 9% while volume within countries outside the U.S. surged 24%, suggesting that the recovery abroad is accelerating. The U.S. increase was less than 1%.
Earnings for all of 2010 will be in a range of $3.05 to $3.30 a share, UPS said, exceeding the forecast of $2.70 to $3.05 the company provided in February. Full quarterly results will be released on April 27, UPS said.
In a note, Becker called the company's pre-announced results "a significant beat". She raised her 2010 EPS estimate to $3.30, the high end of the company's guidance range, "mostly because we believe it is likely that earnings growth will accelerate in the second and third quarters".
The analyst said her new preliminary EPS estimate of $3.88 for 2011, up from $3.40, assumes a recovery in U.S. domestic package revenues next year and slower international growth.
Google Inc.: Barclays Capital equity analyst Douglas Anmuth kept an overweight rating on shares of Google Inc. (GOOG) on Apr. 16. He also cut a price target on the owner of the world's most popular Internet search engine to $650 from $675.
Google reported profit that missed some analysts' estimates on Apr. 15, underscoring the rising cost of pursuing growth in new markets. First-quarter net income rose 37% to $1.96 billion, or $6.06 a share, from $1.42 billion, or $4.49, a year earlier, Mountain View, California-based Google said in a statement. Excluding some costs, profit was $6.76 a share. Estimates compiled by Bloomberg were as high as $6.91.
The company increased hiring, made acquisitions and boosted capital spending as it expanded its display ad and wireless businesses. Google's costs rose 18%, double the increase in the fourth quarter.
Anmuth said in a note that his $6.76 pro forma EPS estimate was ahead of the consensus Wall Street view of $6.60, but below expectations closer to $7.00 due to a ramp-up in hiring, investments, and hedging costs.
The analyst said Google's gross revenues, excluding the effect of foreign exchange and hedging, were up 22% from a year earlier, vs. 16% growth in the 2009 fourth quarter, but its 2.2% quarter-over-quarter net revenue growth was "a bit light", driven mostly by Nexus One phones. He said paid click growth of 15%, year-over-year, re-accelerated from 13% in the fourth-quarter, but cost per click was slower to rebound at 7%.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: UBS Securities equity analyst Neil Currie maintained a buy rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) on Apr. 16. He also raised a price target on the world's largest retailer to $70 from $64.
In a note, Currie said that the main takeaways from an investor meeting that the company hosted at its U.K. Asda unit related to its U.S. business: the merchandise assortment continues to be modified; store remodels had a disruptive effect in the fourth quarter of 2009, but returns have been "good"; price rollbacks "have been better communicated universally this cycle"; the first-quarter will present a tough comparison, but the second quarter should see improvement; and he believes "WMT is closer to communicating the U.S. urban story being the biggest growth opportunity for the retailer globally."
"[W]e believe improving prospects for growth in the U.S. along with global growth could lead to [price-to-earnings] multiple expansion and relative outperformance in 2010," Currie wrote.