CHICAGO, June 1, 2012 /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 Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), Syngenta AG (NYSE:SYT), BASF SE (OTC:BASFY), Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) and The Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD).
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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:
Monsanto Ups Guidance
Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) recently raised its 2012 earnings per share guidance in the range of $3.65 to $3.70 on an ongoing basis and $3.73 to $3.78 on an as-reported basis from its former full-year earnings per share guidance level of $3.49 to $3.54 on an ongoing basis and $3.45 to $3.50 on an as-reported basis. The company's continued strong third-quarter sales drove management's year-over-year expectation up 25% for fiscal 2012 and foresees continued strong growth in fiscal 2013 as well.
Monsanto has also projected third-quarter earnings per share of $1.57 to $1.62 on an ongoing basis and $1.69 to $1.74 on an as-reported basis, reflecting full-year expectation of strong performance, rise in seasonal seed sales and discrete tax adjustment. Management, however, narrowed full-year free cash flow guidance to $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion from the previous range of $1.6 to $1.8 billion.
Furthermore, the company expects net cash provided by operating activities to be $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion, and net cash required by investing activities to be $900 million to $1 billion for fiscal year 2012. This is compared with the previous projection wherein the net cash provided by operating activities was expected to be $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion and net cash required by investing activities was projected to be in the range of $900 million to $1 billion for fiscal 2012.
Over time, Monsanto has been witnessing upside in volume and a mix benefit within the Seeds and Genomics segment, especially in corn traits. With continued R&D lineups, the company successfully increased their yields, while reducing the use of key resources. Such cost-effective business improvements are anticipated to ensure the above projected growth momentum in 2012, while continuing its success journey in 2013.
The company competes with peers including Syngenta AG (NYSE:SYT) and BASF SE (OTC:BASFY). We currently maintain a long-term 'Neutral' recommendation on the stock. Also, Monsanto has a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term 'Hold' rating (1-3 months).
BofA Hires More Business Bankers
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) recently declared that it had employed over 70 small business bankers across the Northern California region to provide assistance to local small business setups. This action is part of BofA's strategy to employ about 1000 small bankers by mid-2012 to improve the scenario for small businesses.
Earlier in 2010, BofA came up with a strategy to help small businesses, which were facing difficulties in obtaining expertise on how to run operations and maintain finances. This was concluded in a survey conducted by BofA.
According to the survey report, a majority of these small business firms were in need of some guidance that could help them in revenue maximization and provide assistance for generating more customers by marketing their business innovatively. Further, they needed local bank branches to be sufficient to provide them with expert knowledge and more customized services so that they can enhance their businesses and overcome challenges as well as gain from opportunities.
According to BofA, small businesses are critical to the development of the economy as a whole. In spite of their significant contribution to the economy, they do not have access to better banking facilities. Thus, BofA has taken up the initiative to sort out their problems and provide them with assistance to smoothly conduct their business operations.
Consequently, BofA has been able to help its 4 million small business customers. Moreover, it has been creating jobs after slashing workforce in areas like mortgage lending and investment banking.
In its efforts, BofA has been constantly pursuing active lending to small-scale firms. In the first quarter of 2012, BofA has extended approximately $669.2 million in credit to firms across California that generate less than $20 million in revenue.
BofA has been actively contributing to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) program by providing $200 million worth of finance to small businesses, which are incapable of qualifying for conventional loans. The CDFI program was initiated in 2010 to help some 9000 odd small businesses and maintain around 14,000 jobs.
For small businesses, this is an excellent opportunity to explore facilities hitherto unavailable. BofA's effort will help them more confidently play an active role in uplifting the performance of the regional as well as the national economy.
Following BofA's steps, The Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD) had recently conducted a market survey of northeast small business owners and had concluded that small business will generate better returns along with constant employment generation in the future. The bank has a devoted team of local bankers in the region to cater to the needs of small firms.
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