CHICAGO, April 29, 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: ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW), Brinker International Inc (NYSE: EAT) and BJ's Restaurants, Inc. (Nasdaq: BJRI).
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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:
ExxonMobil Soars on Oil Prices
U.S. energy behemoth ExxonMobil Corp.'s (NYSE: XOM) first quarter earnings shot up more than 69% year over year (from $6.3 billion to $10.7 billion), driven by higher commodity price realizations, improved refinery margins and solid chemical contributions.
The world's largest publicly traded oil company posted earnings of $2.14 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.05 and substantially ahead of the year-earlier earnings of $1.33. Total revenue in the quarter increased 26.3% year over year to $114.0 billion, easily surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $97.5 billion.
ExxonMobil currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term 'Hold' rating).
With the economic rebound showing signs of strengthening and oil prices rallying, we expect integrated oil companies such as ExxonMobil to continue to accelerate revenue and earnings growth over the next few quarters. Apart from the economic recovery, the company's recent results have also benefited from its operational and production efficiency and contributions from growth programs.
ExxonMobil – the largest U.S. oil firm by market value ahead of Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) – is the best-run integrated oil company in the world given its track record of superior return on capital employed. It has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive name with continued dividend growth.
However, as access to new energy resources becomes more difficult, ExxonMobil, like most of its peers, will face headwinds to replace its reserve. Given its large base, achieving growth in oil and natural gas production has been a challenge with the company over the last many years. With the established oil producing regions of Europe and North America well beyond their prime, the search for growth has pushed ExxonMobil into riskier regions.
Dow Beats Consensus
The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) earned 82 cents per share in the first quarter of 2011, ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 67 cents per share as well as last year's 43 cents per share. However, including one-time charges, the company earned 54 cents per share compared with 41 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.
Quarterly revenues jumped 20% year over year to $14.7 billion and were above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $13.8 billion. Volume (8%) and pricing (12%) gains across all business segments and geographical regions, particularly North America and Europe, yielded healthy revenue growth.
North American revenues grew 8.1% while that of Latin America shot up 13.7%. Demand increased by 12.9% in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and 4.9% in Asia Pacific. Latin American volumes were up 1%. Volume in Asia Pacific decreased 4% and in North America decreased 2%.
A stronger top-line growth resulted in an increase of over 34% in EBITDA (adjusted) to $2.4 billion. EBITDA margin was up 300 basis points year over year. Dow's global operating rate was 83%, flat year over year but up 2% sequentially.
Brinker Tops Estimates
The leading casual dining restaurant company in the world, Brinker International Inc (NYSE: EAT) reported third quarter 2011 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 47 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 45 cents as well as the prior-year quarter earnings of 37 cents. The upside in earnings was driven by continued margin expansion at Chili's and top-line growth at Maggiano's.
On a GAAP basis, the owner of Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy reported third quarter earnings of 45 cents per share, higher than 39 cents posted in the year-ago quarter.
Brinker reaffirmed its adjusted earnings guidance range of $1.30 to $1.42 for fiscal 2011. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2011 is $1.49. The company continues to expect full-year revenues to decrease between 2% and 4% from the last year's revenues of $2.86 billion. The company projects comparable restaurant sales in a range of flat to negative 2%.
The company plans to open 33 to 40 franchised restaurants in 2011, including 8 to 10 franchised restaurants under the Chili's brand and 25 to 30 internationally.
System-wide comparable restaurants sales remained sluggish in the reported quarter, but same-restaurant sales at company-owned restaurants improved. Moreover, Brinker is repositioning its Chili's brand to offset its declining sales momentum and record more sustainable and stable growth. Additionally, the company is making efforts to expand its margins through disciplined cost management and is also expected to benefit from capacity contraction and the consequent lower unit capital expenditure.
One of Brinker's competitors, BJ's Restaurants, Inc. (Nasdaq: BJRI) reported first quarter 2011 adjusted earnings of 25 cents per share, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 19 cents, driven by strong comparable restaurant sales growth.
Brinker holds a Zacks #2 Rank, implying a short-term Buy rating on the stock. We also reiterate our long-term Outperform recommendation.
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