The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Telefonica, Qualcomm, France Telecom, Vodafone Group and Albemarle

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 Telefonica S.A. (NYSE: TEF), Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), France Telecom (NYSE: FTE), Vodafone Group Plc. (Nasdaq: VOD) and Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Telefonica Joins Up with Samsung

Telefonica Digital of Telefonica S.A. (NYSE: TEF) has announced its collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. under a global agreement. Under this agreement, Samsung phone users will be able to buy application and mobile content from the Samsung app store by accessing Telefonica's billing platform – BlueVia API Platform.

This new arrangement will help customers avoid using credit card payments while purchasing from the Samsung app store as it will transfer payments to their phone bill or prepaid credit.  

For Telefonica, Samsung will remain the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to take direct access to Telefonica's billing capabilities under a global agreement.

Telefonica is progressing well to grasp the opportunities in the digital world through several growth strategies. Recently, on May 9, the company also struck a deal with Dell Inc. to offer mobile connectivity solutions for its Windows 7 and Windows 8-based devices throughout Europe by means of the Dell NetReady solution.

Further, the company will be launching its first line of devices based on Firefox operating system in Brazil, Colombia, Spain and Venezuela in mid-2013 with further launches in Europe and Latin America through 2014. Manufactured by Alcatel One Touch, LG and ZTE with Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM) Snapdragon processor, these devices are expected to provide customers a satisfactory data service at affordable prices.

However, Telefonica is facing intense competition from the likes of  France Telecom's (NYSE: FTE) Orange mobile brand and Vodafone Group Plc. (Nasdaq: VOD). In order to safeguard its position in the European region, the company is continuously upgrading its 3G mobile broadband networks –– High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) and Dual Cell HSPA. The company is further working to deploy LTE services in urban areas and also taking initiatives to adopt new technologies like Voice over LTE (VoLTE) to drive its top line.

The company has undertaken several efforts to enhance efficiency across European markets such as removal of handset subsidies in Spain, gradual reduction of subsidies in the U.K., network sharing agreement in the U.K. and Mexico and a redundancy program in Spain. Such initiatives would lead to further savings and boost profits in the coming years.

Telefonica S.A. currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Albermarle, Seinze Meilu in Joint Venture

Specialty chemical company Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) has signed definitive agreements to form a joint venture with Shanxi, China-based coal and bauxite mining company Senze Meilu Company.

On receipt of the necessary approvals from the relevant Chinese government authorities, the joint venture named "Albemarle Senze Chemicals (Shanxi) Company, Ltd." will build a new 50,000 MT facility in Lvliang, Shanxi, to make MARTINAL fine precipitated alumina trihydrate (ATH) flame retardants based on Albemarle's proprietary technology, mainly used in wire and cable applications.  Production at the new facility is expected to start by mid-2015.

Albemarle, which will hold a majority stake in the joint venture, will market MARTINAL in the high-growth Asia-Pacific and Indian markets.

This agreement will position Albemarle as a premiere player in the flame retardant technologies and markets globally. It will also enhance Albemarle's place in the rapidly growing wire and cable markets in Asia and India and complement Albemarle's existing world scale production facility in Bergheim, Germany.

MARTINAL, an eco-friendly, mineral-based flame retardant and smoke suppressant is used in a wide range of polyolefin resins. Low-smoke wire and cable applications are the largely used applications in the energy sector which is gaining momentum from rising energy consumption in China and Asia-Pacific.

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