The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Whole Foods Market, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International and Melco Crown Entertainment

CHICAGO, Nov. 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 the Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM-Free Report), Wynn Resorts Limited (Nasdaq: WYNN-Free Report), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS-Free Report), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM-Free Report), and Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (Nasdaq: MPEL-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Whole Foods Beats Earnings, Misses Revs

 

Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM-Free Report) reported fiscal Q4 2013 earnings after the bell Wednesday, and results were mixed: the 32 cents per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents, but revenues came in lighter than the expected $3037 million to $3.0 billion. Guidance was also lower than expected.

 

Not surprisingly, Whole Foods shares are down in after-market trading -- in fact, they're sinking like a stone, down 8% after a somewhat positive +1.22% in regular-day trading today. Not even a dividend increase of 2 cents per share (up to 12 cents) is apparently enough to keep the evening bears at bay.

 

Total sales were up 11% from a year ago on a comparative-week basis (Q4 2012 had an extra week in it). In the press release, Whole Foods called it their "best fiscal year performance in our company's 35-year history." No love for historical landmarks among after-market traders, apparently. Tough crowd. 

 

Guidance was also lower for Q1 2014, and that may be a legit reason for investors to be a tad spooked. Whole Foods had seen some upwardly revised earnings estimates for this year and next in recent weeks; we'll certainly keep an eye on if/when and perhaps how much revisions may be cast downward from here. Ahead of the earnings report, Whole Foods had a Zacks #2 Rank and a long-term Neutral recommendation.

 

Even still, Whole Foods seems to be jumping through hoops just fine, if a tad slower than some people may have expected. New stores continue to open, more revenues continue to flow in, positive earnings surprises keep happening (albeit modestly) and acquisitions such as Wild Oats are already beginning to contribute to the company. More people are looking for healthy food options, and if the economy ever picks up, a lot more will be willing and able to shop at Whole Foods.

But until then, investors will simply have to take their (holistic) medicine and like it -- at least until WFM's stock price gains can start getting healthy again.



Wynn Resorts Hikes Dividend

Casino-resort operator Wynn Resorts Limited (Nasdaq: WYNN-Free Report) recently announced its decision to hike its quarterly dividend by 25.0% to $1.25 per share next year. This brings the forward annual dividend yield, as of Nov 5, 2013, to 3.03%. The announcement for the current hike comes after about a year.

In addition to this hike, Wynn also decided to distribute a special dividend of $3.00 per share, payable on Dec 6, 2013, to stockholders of record as of Nov 20, 2013. Wynn has a history of repaying shareholders handsomely by means of regular and special dividend payment.

Prior to this, at the end of 2012, the company rewarded its shareholders with a hefty special dividend of $7.50 per share. Wynn also paid special dividends in addition to regular payments in 2010 and 2011.

At the end of the third quarter of 2013, cash and investments balance was $2.7 billion and total debt outstanding was $6.2 billion.

We appreciate WYNN Resorts' efforts to consistently enhance long-term shareholder value even in times of an economic downturn. We believe that the additional dividend affirms Wynn Resorts' positive outlook and reflects confidence in its fundamentals.

Wynn Resorts currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some companies from the casino gaming sector that are worth a look at the current level include Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS-Free Report), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM-Free Report), and Melco Crown Entertainment Limited (Nasdaq: MPEL-Free Report). While Melco Crown holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.



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