CHICAGO, April 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights ICICI Bank (NYSE: IBN-Free Report) as the Bull of the Day and Olympic Steel (Nasdaq: ZEUS-Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report).
Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:
The trend of declining economic growth in India for the past couple of years appears to be coming to an end now. And the banking sector continues its strong growth thanks mainly to rising demand for consumer loans.
Headquartered in Mumbai, India, ICICI Bank (NYSE: IBN-Free Report) is the largest private sector bank in India. The Bank has a network of 3,620 branches and 11,292 ATMs in India, and also has presence in 16 countries, outside India.
The bank has 7 main business segments: Treasury, Wholesale Banking, Life Insurance, Retail Banking, Other Banking, Other, and General Insurance. During FY 2013, 30% of bank's revenue came from its Treasury operations and 27% from Wholesale Banking.
ICICI Bank's ADRs are listed on the NYSE.
IBN reported its Q3 FY 2014 results on January 29, 2014. The results were ahead of analysts' expectations.
Total advances grew 16.0% year-over-year driven mainly by 22.3% growth in the retail portfolio. Retail portfolio continues to be driven by strong demand for mortgage and auto loan products. On the other hand, commercial business loans declined 17.0% year-over-year.
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Olympic Steel (Nasdaq: ZEUS-Free Report) is a U.S. metals service center focused on the direct sale and distribution of processed carbon, coated and stainless flat-rolled sheet, coil and plate steel and aluminum products. The company operates from 34 facilities in North America.
The company reported its Q4 results on February 27. The quarter resulted in a net loss of $1.4 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, substantially worse than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of earnings of $0.13 per share.
Consolidated net sales in the quarter were $291 million and the full year sales were 8.7% lower compared with 2012. According to the management, sales volumes suffered from weakness in certain end markets including the mining industry and the defense sector.
While the company had made significant progress in deleveraging, debt-to-equity ratio is still very high at 67% at the end of 2013 (though down from 83% at the end of 2012).
Microsoft Unveils Cortana
At the annual Build conference in San Francisco, Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT-Free Report) unveiled a voice assistant feature for Windows Phone to gain traction in a highly competitive smartphone market.
Microsoft's new voice-activated phone assistant feature — Cortana — will be included in the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update. The service will be able to take verbal instructions to search for information, set alarms, take calls, make calendar entries and a host of other actions.
The company stated that Cortana is in the "beta" test mode and is expected to be formally launched by the second half of this year.
With the launch of features like Cortana, Microsoft plans to increase its efforts to spread out the use of Windows Phone to many more devices. Also, Microsoft aims at competing against other voice-activated digital assistants such as Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report) Siri and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report) Google Now. Like Google Now, Cortana can tap into apps as well as the phone ' s core services to deliver contextual information. It can offer localized weather reports, favorite sports scores, scan email and provide updates on a flight status or package delivery.
Apart from this, Microsoft plans to release Office for iPad and a new 2014 edition of Office for Mac this year. Also, the company announced its plans to offer Windows for free on phones, tablets and other consumer devices. Microsoft will release a new version of its Kinect — created for the Xbox One — for Windows PCs.
All these changes are expected to help Microsoft stay afloat in a rapidly changing technology market. Like other PC makers, Microsoft's main business of making software for PCs is witnessing sagging demand. Also, Microsoft's touch-based operating system, Windows 8, launched in 2012 failed to provide the much needed boost to the PC market. Therefore, the software company has decided to launch Windows 8.1 — an upgraded version of its operating system — to address the issues regarding the earlier version.
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