The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Qualcomm, Ericsson, OpenTable and Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Aug 22, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Aug. 22, 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 the Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB-Free Report), Qualcomm Inc (Nasdaq: QCOM-Free Report), Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC-Free Report), OpenTable Inc. (Nasdaq: OPEN-Free Report) and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALXN-Free Report).


Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Zuckerberg to Up Internet Usage

Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB-Free Report) CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that his company will collaborate with other leading technology companies for a campaign to expose more people to the world of Internet, especially the ones who cannot afford it.

The project christened is targeted at providing affordable technology to more than four billion people who are unable to access Internet due to high cost of usage. The group is mainly looking at lowering costs and building apps which have better data handling capability.

 Other members of the consortium include Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm Inc (Nasdaq: QCOM-Free Report), Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC-Free Report), MediaTek and Opera Software. Reportedly, Facebook has already spend $1.0 billion for developing infrastructure, much needed for the implementation of the project.

After analyzing the rate of Internet penetration across the globe, Zuckerberg concluded that there is a huge barrier in developing countries when it comes to Internet access and expansion of the Knowledge economy.

As per data collected by this group, only 2.7 billion people, approximately 33.0% of the world's population, have access to the Internet. The rate of Internet adoption increases by less than 9% every year, implying that there is still a large section of the population which remains underserved.

We believe that Zuckerberg has adopted a prudent business strategy, wherein he could increase the reach and customer base of Facebook, while making people more Internet savvy. Facebook currently connects1.15 billion people and aims at having a user base of 5 billion. Therefore, growing Internet accessibility will help it to reach that milestone.

 Facebook users increased 21.0% year-over-year during the second quarter and intends to maintain or increase this growth rate over the next several years By bringing more and more people online, Facebook intends to grab a share of the pie.

Facebook is trying to align the interests of all group members including mobile operators, devices manufacturers, developers and even consumers. However, we believe that the initiative faces significant headwinds related to costs on developing this massive infrastructure, as many of its members are facing financial crises.Moreover, internet unfriendly nations such as China and North Korea, who tends keep a firm grip on the free-flow of information among citizens pose a major threat for the initiative.

Nevertheless, we believe this is a commendable effort from Facebook and its compatriots. The project's success will significant their penetration into the developing economies of Asia-pacific, Latin America and Africa.

Additionally, we believe that Facebook's recent partnership with OpenTable Inc. (Nasdaq: OPEN-Free Report) will also add to its user base. We also expect the company to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions going forward.

Currently, Facebook has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Voluntary Recall from Alexion

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALXN-Free Report) stated that it has initiated a recall and replacement of the remaining vials of a single lot of the company's sole marketed drug Soliris. Alexion further stated that this voluntary move was prompted by the presence of visible particles in a few vials in a solitary lot of the drug. Soliris is available for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.

According to Alexion, the recalled and replaced vials accounted for a negligible portion (1-2%) of the vial consumption in a month. The affected vials were being replaced in hospitals. The company also stated in its filing with the SEC that it observed the particles during its regular testing of retained samples  after the filling, packaging, and labeling of the vials by a third party contract vialer. Alexion said that the affected lot was filled in Jun 2012. It was initially distributed in Dec 2012 ex-U.S. markets.

The company is investigating the matter. Alexion believes the voluntary recall will not impact the supply of Soliris. Though current supplies of Soliris may not be interrupted, we believe further slipups regarding Soliris will impact the drug's supplies. This will be catastrophic for the company since it is entirely dependent on Soliris for growth.

We note that this is not the first setback for Alexion regarding Soliris this year. In March the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Alexion as the company did not comply with the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) at its manufacturing facility at Rhode Island. Alexion manufactures Soliris at the facility.

Alexion, a biopharmaceutical company, presently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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