Haverty Furniture, Stage Stores, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Comcast highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

Jan 15, 2014, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc. (NYSE: HVT-Free Report) as the Bull of the Day and Stage Stores, Inc. (NYSE: SSI-Free Report)as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis onCharter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR-Free Report), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC-Free Report) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA-Free Report).

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Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

The furniture retailers are back on top. Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc. (NYSE: HVT-Free Report) recently reported full year sales which were the best since the Great Recession. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to grow earnings by 102% in 2013.

Havertys has seen it all. The company was founded in 1885 in Atlanta and used to make deliveries in horse and buggy. It now has showrooms in 16 Southern and Midwest states. Havertys went public in 1929 during dark economic times, but it has survived each of the big economic shocks.

The impact of the recent housing bust is obvious in Havertys multi-year earnings history. Earnings plunged 88.7% in 2007 to just 8 cents before the rest of the country went into recession and took Havertys even lower.

The company didn't make money in either 2008 or 2009. Even 2010 and 2011 were still a struggle. But in 2012, the turnaround in the housing market, and the consumer, began to take hold. Havertys made 67 cents that year and it has seen rising earnings ever since.

On Jan 8, Havertys reported that fourth quarter sales rose 7.6% to $196.2 million from $182.3 million in the year ago quarter.

Comparable store sales rose 9.5%. The fourth quarter was boosted by the custom order business, the free in-home design service and a higher average ticket.

For the year, sales jumped 11.3% to $746.1 million.

Bear of the Day:

Stage Stores, Inc. (NYSE: SSI-Free Report) recently joined the brigade of retailers warning about the holiday season. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Buy) lowered fiscal 2013 guidance below the Zacks Consensus.

Stage Stores has a unique niche in the retail industry in that it operates 887 stores under the names of Bealls, Goody's, Palais Royal, Peebles, Stage and Steele in small and mid-sized towns in 40 states. It sells brand name apparel, accessories, cosmetics and footwear for the entire family.

On Jan 13, Stage Stores reported holiday sales for the nine week Nov and Dec period ending Jan 4, 2014. Comparable store sales fell 1.5%.

Because the holiday was highly promotional, margins were impacted. The company reduced its earnings guidance to the range of $1.10 to $1.15 from its previous guidance of $1.20 to $1.30.

"We were pleased with our strong sales in early November and during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. However, traffic slowed in the weeks leading to Christmas and we were not able to maintain our early positive sales trend," said Michael Glazer, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Additional content:

Charter Pursues Time Warner Cable

Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR-Free Report) has offered a fresh bid to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC-Free Report). The company offered $132.50 per share of Time Warner Cable, including $83 in cash and $49.50 in Charter stock.

The total size of the deal is approximately $61.3 billion. Excluding debt, the deal size is around $37.3 billion. The existing Time Warner Cable stockholders will get 45% control of the merged entity.

However, the board of directors of Time Warner Cable unanimously rejected the offer from Charter on grounds of inadequacy. This is the third rejection in the last one year. Time Warner Cable intends to thoroughly evaluate whether the deal will add sufficient value to its investors before finalizing.

Several industry researchers have estimated that the offer size may go up to $160-$162 per share. Nevertheless, Charter has decided to take the deal directly to Time Warner Cable shareholders.

The news of a proposed merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable first surfaced after Liberty Media acquired a 27.3% stake in the former. Liberty Media is aggressively pursuing the idea of Charter Communications acquiring a major cable TV operator in the U.S. such as Time Warner Cable.

Meanwhile, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA-Free Report), Cox Communications and several private equity firms are also reported to be exploring strategic options to acquire Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications currently are the second and the fourth largest cable TV operators in the U.S., respectively.  A merger between the two companies will create a formidable player in the industry with nearly 20 million subscribers across 38 states. The combined entity will be the third largest pay-TV service provider in the U.S.

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