The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon.com, Netflix, Apple, Microsoft and Sony

CHICAGO, May 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Sony (NYSE: SNE).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Amazon, NBCUniversal Deal Expanded

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced the expansion of its content licensing agreement with NBCUniversal Cable & New Media Distribution, extending the archive of television shows and films currently available on its streaming video site, Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Amazon Instant Video is a digital video streaming and download service that lets users rent, buy or subscribe to a range of video content.

The NBCUniversal deal will make Amazon's Prime Instant Video the exclusive online subscription service for streaming the prior seasons of fantasy drama 'Grimm', spy thriller 'Covert Affairs', psychological thriller 'Hannibal' and many more. Also, various popular children's programs including Curious George and Land Before Time will be available for free.

The online retailer has been consistently upgrading and promoting movies and television shows on its streaming video service. Over the past 12 months, Amazon has entered into a number of deals with every major Hollywood studio as well as some of the major cable networks. Recently, Amazon signed a deal with CBS for the exclusive right to stream a new drama, Under the Dome.

We believe the deal is the latest effort by Amazon to strengthen its position versus Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the leading online video subscription service in the United States. Additionally, Amazon Studios plans to produce 14 test episodes of comedies and children's series, which will be available on the Amazon Instant Video streaming service free of cost.

Amazon is spending a considerable amount on licensing deals for movies and TV shows to attract more viewers to Prime Instant Video. Though these deals are helping it to build a library of television shows and movies, Amazon is well behind rival Netflix.

Currently, Amazon Prime Instant Video offers more than 40,000 movies and shows on Kindle Fire and Fire HD as well as Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It is also available on Roku set-tops, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360s, Sony (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 3s and the Nintendo Wiis and Wii Us.

Amazon is one of the leading players in an extremely fast-growing market. In the first quarter, Amazon's earnings were well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 10 cents. But revenues of $16.07 billion were down sequentially as well as from the year-ago quarter.

Amazon shares currently retain a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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