The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: ADP, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Novo Nordisk

Jan 04, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 ADP (Nasdaq:ADP), Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:IRWD), Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: FRX), Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE: VRX) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO).


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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

What Fiscal Cliff?

What Fiscal Cliff? Thursday morning's payroll report from ADP (Nasdaq:ADP) provided a big positive surprise in the private sector job market: December saw growth of 215K jobs, much higher than the 149K expected. In addition, November's ADP numbers were revised upward from 118K to 138K. So, as I said, What Fiscal Cliff?

We'd seen evidence of businesses cutting back on capital spending in the wake of fiscal cliff uncertainty, but apparently this has not translated to company payrolls, at least not in December. In addition, with a 39K gain in construction jobs, we see that the economic recovery being bolstered by the housing market -- no doubt spurred by post-Sandy building -- continues unabated.

As of now, Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) non-farm payroll report is expected to be 150K new jobs in December. But this big ADP surprise may cause analysts to take a second look before tomorrow morning's BLS report. In recent months, the ADP and BLS reports have been pretty closely aligned.

Weekly jobless claims were also released Thursday morning, rising 10K to 372K. This is above the 4-week average of 360K, but still within our post-Sandy range. The holiday season is also a very difficult one to see an adequate reflection of the overall jobs market. Even more, jobless claims data from 9 states were estimated for this morning's report due to holiday-related issues.

Yesterday, the Dow gained 300 points and the Nasdaq shot up 3%. It seems to have become clear that the fiscal cliff resolution passed by Congress -- no matter how temporary or flimsy -- has created an early new year relief rally.



Ironwood Pharma Upped to Strong Buy


On January 2, 2013, Zacks Investment Research upgradedIronwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s (Nasdaq:IRWD) to a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Ironwood Pharma has been buoyed by a string of good news lately. On December 17, 2012, Ironwood Pharma and partner Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: FRX) announced the US launch of their drug Linzess (linaclotide). The launch followed the approval of the drug by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2012 for the treatment (once-daily) of adults suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) or chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC).

In the EU, approval came in November 2012 under the trade name Constella. Ironwood Pharma is collaborating with Almirall, S.A. in EU for the drug. Ironwood Pharma is also working with its Japanese partner, Astellas Pharma Inc. for the development of linaclotide in Japan and other Asian countries.

Furthermore, Ironwood Pharma performed impressively in the third quarter 2012. On October 16, Ironwood Pharma reported third quarter earnings of 42 cents, which compared favorably with the year-ago loss of 21 cents per share and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 15 cents.

All the positive factors mentioned above have contributed to the Zacks Consensus Estimate being narrowed to a loss of 81 cents from a loss of $1.21 over the last 90 days. For 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimate has been revised to a loss of $2.22 per share from a loss of $2.38 over the same time period. 

Other Stocks to Consider

The following pharma companies with favorable Zacks Rank are also performing well and are worth considering.

1) Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE: VRX) carries a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy)

2) Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) holds a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy)


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