Markets & Finance

Stock Picks: Amazon.com, JPMorgan Chase, Las Vegas Sands


Wall Street analysts offer buy, sell, or hold opinions on stocks in the news on Oct. 13

Amazon.com: Janney Montgomery Scott equity analyst Shawn Milne maintained a buy rating on shares of Internet retailer Amazon.com (AMZN) on Oct. 13. He raised a fair value estimate on the shares to $175, from $140. In a note, Milne said his increased fair value estimate was based on "solid " growth in the e-commerce sector, continued market share gains for Amazon, and expectations for stronger earnings per share (EPS) growth in the second half of 2011. "In the near term, we believe AMZN could be choppy" through the third quarter, Milne said, citing an increase in the share price of around 40 percent following the second-quarter and "heightened investor expectations" into the third quarter. Milne said he expected Amazon "to meet or slightly exceed" his third quarter estimates for revenue of $7.36 billion and EPS of 63¢. The company is scheduled to report third-quarter results on Oct. 21. JPMorgan Chase: Standard & Poor's equity analyst Erik Oja maintained a strong buy rating and $47 price target on shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) on Oct. 13. On Oct. 13, JPMorgan, the second-biggest U.S. bank, said profit was up 23 percent, higher than analysts had estimated, as provisions for losses on mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer loans fell $5.8 billion. Third-quarter net income climbed to $4.42 billion, or $1.01 a share, from $3.59 billion, or 82¢, in the same period a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Twenty two analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated adjusted earnings of 88¢ a share. Even as provisions for future losses dropped, the bank charged off $1.2 billion on its home-equity and other mortgage loans as the U.S. unemployment rate remained near a 26-year high. JPMorgan also took a $1.5 billion loss on bad loans that it was forced to repurchase from investors. "We expect mortgage credit losses to remain at these high levels for the next several quarters, " Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 54, said in the statement. "If economic conditions worsen, mortgage credit losses could trend higher." Third-quarter revenue fell 11 percent to $23.8 billion. Fixed-income revenue was $3.1 billion, compared with $5 billion a year earlier and $3.6 billion in the second quarter. Retail banking earned $907 million, compared with $1.04 billion during the second quarter and $7 million a year earlier. The division benefited from a reduction in provisions to $1.55 billion, from $3.99 billion in the prior year, JPMorgan said. Credit-card services earned $735 million, compared with $343 million in the prior three months and a $700 million loss a year earlier. JPMorgan reduced provisions against future losses in the business by $3.33 billion. Net income in investment banking declined 33 percent from a year earlier, to $1.29 billion in the third quarter, from $1.92 billion the year before—even after benefiting from the release of $142 million in reserves back into earnings. A year earlier, the bank had set aside $379 million for reserves. In a posting on the S&P MarketScope service, Oja said the company's third-quarter core fee income, which excludes gains and losses, beat his forecast on higher-than-expected investment banking and principal transactions. He said JPMorgan's loan-loss provision of $3.22 billion was less than his $4.04 billion estimate, on "far better than expected " improvements in credit quality. Oja raised a 2010 EPS estimate to $4.00, from $3.71, and left a 2011 estimate unchanged, at $4.21. Las Vegas Sands: Hudson Securities equity analyst Robert A. LaFleur reiterated a buy rating on shares of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), which operates casino-hotels and convention centers in the U.S., Singapore, and Macau, China, on Oct. 13. He raised a price target on the shares to $46, from $40. In a note, LaFleur said he was raising his 2012 estimate of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA, to $3.3 billion, from $3.0 billion, citing continued strength in the company's operations in Macau and growing expectations from Singapore. "LVS continues to be the best way to play the explosive growth in Asia … [t]he outlook for Singapore continues to appear better and better," said the analyst.


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