The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Isis Pharmaceuticals and Actelion

CHICAGO, Oct. 25, 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 the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT-Free Report), Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNR-Free Report), Roche (OTC:RHHBY-Free Report), Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ISIS-Free Report) and Actelion Ltd. (OTC:ALIOF-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 Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Microsoft Turns Around, Crushes Estimates

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT-Free Report), reported earnings after the bell today, posting an EPS of $0.62, and revenue of $18.5 billion.  This crushed the Zacks estimates of $0.54, and $17.8 billion respectfully.  After last quarters $0.15 EPS miss, this beat comes as a welcomed surprise to analysts.

Over the past 60 days, analysts have been negatively revising their estimates, dropping from an average EPS of $0.57 to $0.54, and decreasing their estimates through 2015 (dropping from $3.06 to $3.00 for 2015).  With this earnings beat, we should see several estimate revisions over the next few days.

In early reports, the two new reported segments; Devices & Consumer, and Commercial, both beat revenue expectations by posting $7.3 Billion, and $11.2 billion respectfully.  This is stunning news to the street, due to the significant headwinds facing the company throughout the quarter; CEO search, global PC sales, Windows 8.1, Cloud growth, and the Nokia purchase.

We are still awaiting results on specific segments, namely the cloud enterprise, and global PC sales, but with these strong beats, it would appear as though both the major concerns have been neutralized at least.

In afterhours trading, MSFT has jumped over 5% on heavy volume.  This suggests people are covering a lot of shorts, and have turned bullish on the stock.

Avanir's Nuedexta Update

Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AVNR-Free Report) Nuedexta (AVP-923) was launched in the U.S. in Feb 2011 for the treatment of pseudobulbar affect (PBA). Net Nuedexta revenues grew 15.2% sequentially to $19 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013 (ended Jun 30, 2013).

In Jun 2013, Avanir received approval for Nuedexta in the EU for the treatment of patients suffering from PBA. The marketing application was based on comprehensive data from phase III studies of Nuedexta in patients with PBA, plus data from longer-term safety studies.

Avanir is looking to expand the label of Nuedexta into additional indications. Earlier in the month, Avanir announced the commencement of enrollment in a phase II proof-of-concept study (AVR-133) on Nuedexta for the treatment of levodopa induced dyskinesia (LID) in patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD).

AVR-133 – a double-blind, randomized, crossover study – will compare Nuedexta with placebo for the treatment of LID. The study will enroll 16 PD patients. The patients will be treated with Nuedexta and placebo for 14 days each separated by 2 weeks.  Avanir expects to report top-line data from AVR-133 in the second half of calendar 2014.

This drug is being studied for two other indications, namely, agitation in Alzheimer's disease (phase II), and central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis (phase II).

The PRIME study is conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Nuedexta for the treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis. Avanir expects to report top-line data from the study by year end.

Avanir currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Roche (OTC:RHHBY-Free Report), Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ISIS-Free Report) and Actelion Ltd. (OTC:ALIOF-Free Report) look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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

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