Markets & Finance

S&P Picks and Pans: Apple, Gibraltar, TOTAL


Analyst opinions on stocks making headlines in Friday's market

From Standard & Poor's Equity Research12/26/2008- 11:23am S&P REITERATES STRONG BUY OPINION ON SHARES OF APPLE (AAPL)

Wal-Mart (WMT) announces the availability of certain AAPL iPhone products on Sunday December 28 via some 2,500 Wal-Mart stores. This is roughly 10 times the number of AAPL's own stores. We view this move as the company following through on existing strategies to add iPhone distribution partners and to build brand awareness with a broader consumer audience. We believe this move will support the market-share gains that we project for AAPL's smart phone products in 2009. We maintain our FY 09 (Sep) EPS estimate of $5.50 and our P/E-based 12-month target price of $127. /T. Smith, CFA

12/26/2008- 12:40pm S&P RAISES RECOMMENDATION ON SHARES OF GIBRALTAR INDUSTRIES TO BUY FROM HOLD (ROCK)

Our opinion change is based on valuation. On a more pessimistic outlook for the building products business, we are cutting our '08 EPS estimate to $1.32 from $1.45 and trimming '09's to $0.89 from $1.17. Based on our revised estimate for '09, we are reducing our 12-month target price to $12 from $15. Based on our projected P/E, ROCK would sell toward the low end of its historical range. But after a recent sharp price decline, we think ROCK is attractively valued, selling at about 11.6X our revised '09 EPS estimate and with a current dividend yield of nearly 2%. /L. Larkin

12/26/2008- 12:55pm S&P UPGRADES RECOMMENDATION ON ADSS OF TOTAL SA TO STRONG BUY FROM BUY (TOT)

We believe TOT is well suited for a depressed crude oil price setting due to its geographical diversification, lack of derivatives exposure, and one of the highest percentages of production and earnings derived from low-cost production areas among major European oil companies. TOT is also rapidly growing its Middle East presence, another low-cost area, and it believes this area will represent 20% of worldwide production in 4 years. We raise our earnings per ADS estimates to $7.83 from $7.75 in '08 and to $8.14 from $7.90 in '09. We lift our 12-month target price by $1 to $92. /C. Tiscareno


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