CHICAGO, Sept. 20, 2011 /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: Benihana Inc (Nasdaq : BNHN), Humana Inc. (NYSE : HUM), CIGNA Corporation (NYSE : CI), Aetna Inc. (NYSE : AET) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE : UNH).
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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:
Benihana Sales Up, Hurt by Irene
Benihana Inc (Nasdaq : BNHN), the largest operator of Japanese restaurants in the U.S, posted restaurant sales of $24.9 million in the four-week period ending September 11, 2012, up 5.6% from $23.5 million delivered in the year-ago period.
The company's comparable restaurant sales grew 6.7% in the second four-week period of the second quarter of 2012, representing the twentieth consecutive period of growth.
The upside in sales was primarily driven by improved comparable restaurant sales at both Benihana Teppanyaki and RA Sushi restaurants due to higher traffic. However, sales at the other 12 restaurants were hurt by Hurricane Irene. As a result, comps plunged by 0.7% for the period.
The comparable restaurant sales jumped 8.2% at Benihana Teppanyaki restaurants on the back of higher guest count (up 6.2%) resulting from the Benihana Teppanyaki Renewal Program. Moreover, same-store sales during the period leaped 5.9% at RA Sushi due to a 2.5% rise in traffic. Though comps at both the restaurants fell 0.2%, respectively, due to Hurricane Irene.
Comparable restaurant sales at Haru declined 1.6% as severe weather conditions affected all the 8 restaurants resulting in lower traffic of 5.4%. Excluding the impact of Irene, the comps were up 3.0%.
Store operating weeks during the period were 1.3% lower than the year-ago period.
The Miami-based company generates 99.5% of its revenues from restaurant sales (67% from Benihana Teppanyaki, 24% from RA Sushi and 9% from Haru) and the remaining 0.5% from franchise fees and royalties.
Humana Expands RightSource Business
Humana Inc. (NYSE : HUM) announced the expansion of its RightSource mail and specialty drug business by hiring 200 new employees at a new office complex in Ohio by spring 2012. Besides, the company will also shift 450 existing employees of RightSource to the new location by December 2012.
Humana has already leased a 175,000 square-foot space at an office complex in Springdale, Ohio, which will be the company's third office in Greater Cincinnati. The company had started its operations in Ohio in 2008 and currently has its regional headquarters and a distribution center in the state.
The new additions will take Humana's total headcount in Greater Cincinnati to 1,800, including 1,200 RightSource employees. RightSource operates in 50 states and caters to about 800,000 Humana Medicare and commercial health plan members.
The expansion is taking place to manage the growing operations of RightSource's mail order delivery service. The demand for the service is growing at a fast pace due to Humana's growing Medicare business and the ease of home delivery.
Humana has been rapidly increasing its employee base. Last week the company announced its plans of adding 200 new full-time employees at the National Medicare service center in Louisville, taking the head count in Louisville to 10,800 by 2011-end. Additionally, in August 2011, the company had announced its plan to hire 300 new employees in its Humana Cares division and in July 2011, it had announced its plan to hire 200 full-time employees at its national Medicare service operations center in Tampa Bay.
We believe that the recognition of RightSource's services and Humana's Medicare plans will lead to continued increase in demand, thereby increasing Humana's market share against rivals like CIGNA Corporation (NYSE : CI), Aetna Inc. (NYSE : AET) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE : UNH). Thus, we can expect more expansions and job creations by the company in future.
Currently, Humana carries a Zacks #1 Rank, which translates into a Strong Buy rating for the short-term.
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