The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ferrellgas Partners, SunTrust Banks, Citigroup, Wal-Mart Stores and Safeway
CHICAGO, March 7, 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 Ferrellgas Partners LP (NYSE: FGP), SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY).
Get the most recent insight from Zacks Equity Research with the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5513
Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:
Ferrellgas Upgraded to Outperform
On Mar 5, 2013, we upgraded our recommendation on Ferrellgas Partners LP (NYSE: FGP) to Outperform from Neutral. The partnership's earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimates on two out of last four quarters. In the last quarter, the partnership posted positive earnings surprise of 4.35%. Ferrellgas Partners currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Reasons for Upgrade
The revision in recommendation was primarily driven by Ferrellgas Partners' steady acquisition strategy, decline in operating costs, strong liquidity positions and steady effort toward debt minimization.
Ferrellgas Partners' recent acquisition of IGS Propane will allow the partnership to provide on-time services with lower transportation costs given its positional advantage. These acquisitions are part of the partnership's long-term strategy to grow as one of the top propane companies.
In addition, Ferrellgas Partners has taken up a restructuring plan for its balance sheet and aims to lower its debt level with the issuance of common units. In the last fiscal year, the partnership issued 1.4 million common units, worth $25.0 million, to redeem part of its outstanding debts. These initiatives will ease up the balance sheet and lower the interest burden.
Riding on the strong positives, the Zacks Consensus Estimates for fiscal-year 2013 earnings per unit currently stands at 59 cents, reflecting year-over-year growth of 753.3%.
SunTrust to Shut Down 40 Branches
SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) plans to shutter nearly 40 of its branches in the first quarter of this year. The CEO of the company announced the plans to trim branch network on Mar 5 at a U.S. Financial Services Conference held by Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C).
As per a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Mar 5, SunTrust expects to bring down the total number of branches to 1,580 by the end of the current month from 1,616 at the end of 2012.
Besides the closure of these branches in the first quarter, the company expects more closures in 2013. Most of the closures are anticipated to come from the company's in-store network. It expects to cut down the overall number of grocery store partners, but retain strategic partnerships with key departmental stores including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) and The Kroger Co.
The decision to shut down branches comes after a thorough evaluation of branch infrastructure following the migration of clients to self-service avenues like mobile banking and online banking, which reduced cost extensively.
In 2012, SunTrust closed 43 branches as a part of its cost cutting measures. Under these measures, the company also retrenched 2,400 employees and slashed the pay of the existing ones. Since 2010, the branch workforce has been reduced by nearly 10%.
SunTrust is not the only bank that has adopted branch closures and retrenchments to boost the top line. Both big and small financial institutions have been resorting to such strategy amid a bleak macro economic environment.
Currently, SunTrust retains Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Want more from Zacks Equity Research? Subscribe to the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5515.
About Zacks Equity Research
Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.
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.
Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5517
Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leon Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at http://at.zacks.com/?id=5518.
Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zacksresearch
Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts
Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.
SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.