The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:CincinnatiFinancial, DISH Network, News Corp., Walt Disney and CBS Corp.

CHICAGO, Feb. 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 Cincinnati Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: CINF), DISH Network Corporation (Nasdaq: DISH), News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS ).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Cincinnati Financial Upgraded to Outperform

On Feb 21, 2013, we upgraded our recommendation on Cincinnati Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: CINF) to Outperform from Neutral following its better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, which included a 122.0% positive earnings surprise. This property and casualty insurer carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Cincinnati Financial's fourth quarter results reflected a steadily growing benefit of initiatives designed to improve insurance profitability, drive premium growth overtime and create shareholder value.

Cincinnati Financial grew premium in each of its property casualty segments.  Consolidated net written premiums for the fourth quarter rose by 10%, led by higher overall pricing.

The company reported an improvement in combined ratio in all three of its property casualty segments.

The company is also continuing to appoint agencies, which is one of its strategic goals for 2013. The increase in agency count is expected to bring in premium growth. 

Cincinnati Financial also boasts of a strong balance sheet with low reliance on debt witnessed by a debt to capital ratio of less than 14.1% as of Dec 31, 2012. Moreover, its consistent cash flows and prudent cash balances continue to create strong liquidity. The company is also a favorite among investors because it has fulfilled a commitment of increased dividend payment every year for the past 52 years. 

DISH Again Charged by Fox

DISH Network Corporation's (Nasdaq: DISH) popular hopper device again came under huge criticism as News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) owned Fox network appealed before the federal court in Los Angeles to stop the former to offer PrimeTime Anytime service facilities like live and recorded TV shows on smartphones and tablets to its customers via second-generation Hopper set top box.

It all began in May last year, when DISH Network launched a new technology called Auto Hop, which allows users to skip commercials at the time of watching recorded TV-shows. Introduction of such technology has created a lot of tension among major TV broadcasters like Walt Disney Co.'s (NYSE: DIS) ABC, CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS) Fox network and NBC Universal.

The broadcast networks claim that the new feature not only violates copyright laws but also significantly jeopardizes their advertisement revenue. The end result was that all the four major TV network companies filed a lawsuit against DISH Network.

However, DISH Network believes that it has not infringed any copyright law as the new service is similar to the DVR service, which provides flexible viewing of TV shows at their own preferred time. Moreover, skipping of advertisement is possible only during recorded programs and not at the time of live broadcast of the show, hence the technology does not violate any contract agreement with the broadcasters and also sued these firms.

Despite huge criticism from broadcasters, the auto-hop device received huge mass appeal and the federal court judge has not issued any stay order on DISH Network's popular device. Moreover, the launch of such devices has helped the company to reduce its monthly subscriber churn rate from 1.63% in 2011 to 1.57% in 2012 and also drives its ARPU to $77.10 in 2012 from $76.45 in 2011.

So, it is to be seen how the federal court deals with the fresh appeal from Fox network.

DISH Network currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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