The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Yahoo!, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Hibbett Sports

CHICAGO, Jan. 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 Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Hibbett Sports, Inc. (Nasdaq: HIBB).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Yahoo Acquires Snip.it

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) recently announced the acquisition of social news start-up Snip.it. First reported by AllThingsD, the news was later confirmed in a Snip.it blog post. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but media reports suggest that it will cost Yahoo more than $10 million.

Founder Ramy Adeeb started the company in 2011 with funds from True and Khosla Ventures as well as other investors. Snip.it is a social platform that allows users to collect, organize and share articles. Users can check other collections, add another collection into their own and share their collection on other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Google+ and others.

Following the acquisition, Snip.it's 10-member team will be working with Yahoo. The service from Snip.it will be shut down but users have the option of downloading their data up to Feb 21, 2013.

Yahoo is marching ahead with its plan to acquire struggling start-up companies. Before Snip.it, it acquired another small startup, OnTheAir specializing in broadcasting video chats or interviews to online audiences.

The idea behind acquiring these start-ups is to pick up engineering talent, key technologies and products offered by them. These acquisitions could help Yahoo get into the emerging social marketing segment, where its rivals have already made a play.

In fact, Yahoo's leadership position in display advertising has been lost to Facebook and Google. With search advertising revenues on a secular decline – not only because of Google but also Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Yahoo needs to focus on the other major growth area. As per an Internet survey, it was found that 65.0% of Internet users in the U.S. used social networking sites, an indication of the growing popularity of the platform.

In the third quarter of fiscal 2012, Yahoo generated revenue of $1.20 billion, which was down 1.3% sequentially and 1.2% year over year. Traffic acquisition cost (TAC) was down 17.7% sequentially and 22.2% from last year. Excluding these costs in all periods, net revenue was essentially flat on a sequential basis and up 1.6% from last year, in line with the consensus estimate.

Yahoo has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Outperform Stance on Hibbett

We have maintained our long-term 'Outperform' recommendation on Hibbett Sports, Inc. (Nasdaq: HIBB). Our recommendation is based on the company's better-than-expected bottom-line performance in 9 back-to-back quarters and enhanced outlook for fiscal 2013.

Why Reiterate?

The company's quarterly earnings have been outperforming the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the past 9 consecutive quarters with an average surprise of 9.3%. Hibbett's most recently reported earnings of 71 cents per share for third-quarter of fiscal 2013, comfortably beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 68 cents and climbed 20% from the year-ago quarter earnings of 59 cents. The company's bottom line was primarily benefitted from robust sales growth and operational efficiencies.

Boosted by strong business from back-to-school buyers, net sales escalated 9.6% year over year to $202.9 million and surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $201.0 million.

Buoyed by better-than-expected results, continued sales strength along with improved cost management and margins, the company raised its expectations for fiscal 2013. It now forecasts earnings in the range of $2.66–$2.71 per share, versus the prior guidance of $2.57–$2.67 per share. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fiscal is pegged at $2.71 per share. Comparable store sales for the year are expected to increase in the mid-single digit range.

Apart from strong third-quarter results, Hibbett's growth story looks compelling. We believe that the company's sharp focus on expanding its store network in mid-sized and smaller markets, as well as better product mix are the key growth drivers.

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