The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Invensense, Huron Consulting Group, Gartner and KBR

CHICAGO, July 22, 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 Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report), Invensense Inc (NYSE: INVN-Free Report), Huron Consulting Group Inc. (Nasdaq: HURN-Free Report), Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT-Free Report) and KBR Inc. (NYSE: KBR-Free Report).

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Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Will Apple Beat Earnings Estimates?

We expect Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report) to beat expectations when it reports third quarter 2013 results on Jul 23.

Why a Likely Positive Surprise? Our proven model shows that Apple is likely to beat earnings because it has the right combination of two key ingredients.

Positive Zacks ESP: Expected Surprise Prediction or ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method), which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is at +2.19%. This is very meaningful and a leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise for shares.

Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Note that stocks with Zacks Ranks of #1, #2 and #3 have a significantly higher chance of beating earnings. The sell rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement.

The combination of Apple' Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and +2.19% ESP makes us very confident in looking for a positive earnings beat on Jul 23.

What is Driving the Better-Than-Expected Earnings?

We believe that Apple's third quarter results will benefit from strong iPhone activation at Verizon's. In its recently concluded second quarter, Verizon activated 3.9 million iPhones, significantly up from 2.7 million in the year-ago quarter. Moreover, higher App store sales are expected to boost Apple's top-line growth in the quarter.

Other Stocks to Consider

Apart from Apple, we also expect earnings beat from the following stocks.

Invensense Inc (NYSE: INVN-Free Report), Earnings ESP of +8.33% and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Huron Consulting Group Inc. (Nasdaq: HURN-Free Report), Earnings ESP of +1.64% and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT-Free Report), Earnings ESP of +1.96% and Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

KBR to Build European Missile Facility

KBR Inc. (NYSE: KBR-Free Report) recently won a contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, to support the first land-based ballistic missile defense system of the continent at the Deveselu Air Base of Romania. The contract comes under the purview of the U.S. Department of Defense and is worth $134 million.

Spanning a 269-acre plot, the Deveselu Air Base was jointly selected by the United States and Romania for the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System. The project will protect North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) European territories, including Romania. The Aegis Defense system will be the first land-based alternative of the Navy's shipboard Aegis Air and Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The terms of the contract require KBR to move a four-storied radar deckhouse structure from the East Coast of the U.S. to Romania. According to the agreement, KBR will also construct various facilities and infrastructures such as roads, support buildings, communications, security and utilities. Notably, KBR will have to utilize its strong technical and project management capabilities to execute this challenging project.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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