CHICAGO, April 26, 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 St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) and Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG).
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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:
St. Jude's Alliance with Abbott Labs
St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ) recently disclosed its decision to build on its mutual agreement with Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) by revealing the long-term Choice Alliance joint venture. This initiative provides St. Jude Medical the opportunity to incorporate Abbott's drug-eluting stents with its cardiovascular, cardiac rhythm management and electrophysiology offerings.
Both companies have agreed to endorse each other's products to their respective customers. Further, Abbott has received the rights to promote St. Jude's RadiAnalyze Xpress Measurement System and the ILUMIEN PCI Optimization System.
This alliance is expected to benefit patient outcomes, as doctors will be able to combine Abbott's XIENCE family of stents with St. Jude's optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fractional flow reserve (FFR) know-how to widen the scope of clinical treatments.
Abbott Laboratories is a global manufacturer of a vast array of health care products. Pharmaceuticals, medical and nutritional offerings, including cardiovascular devices, are the core franchises of the company. Within the vascular segment, the XIENCE family of products (Xience V, PRIME and nano) was the worldwide market leader of drug eluting stents in 2011.
St. Jude is consistently producing revenue growth and positive earnings surprises over the past several quarters. We are impressed by its solid fundamentals, healthy growth trajectory, strong product mix, robust pipeline and cost management initiatives.
While a host of new growth drivers (including new products and expansion in emerging markets) are expected to boost results in 2012 and beyond, we remain cautious about increased competition, a still-soft CRM market and the dilutive impact of acquisitions.
Th CRM space continues to thwart St. Jude as well as its peers Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) and Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX). Our long-term Neutral recommendation on St. Jude is in agreement with the short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) retained by the stock.
Big Lots Lowers Outlook
The largest broad-line closeout retailer Big Lots Inc.'s (NYSE: BIG) latest release reminds us of the Dow theory, which says the market discounts everything. This stands perfectly true for the company as its shares plunged more than 14% after management lowered its first-quarter guidance on the key retail metric i.e., its comparable store sales.
Management now expects comparable store sales in the U.S. to be somewhat negative compared to its earlier guidance of an increase of 2% to 4%.
Big Lots experienced a sales decline in the month of April, with electronics sales bringing in the biggest disappointment. Management stated that the sales of furniture, hardlines and lawn and garden were quite good.
Big Lots also updated its guidance on the recently acquired Canadian operations. Management now expects retail sales to be marginally higher than its earlier projection of $25 to $30 million of sales for the first quarter.
The company has been exploring numerous options to enter the Canadian turf that ended with the acquisition of Liquidation World. Liquidation World operates approximately 89 stores and offers a broad assortment of closeout merchandise. Management believes the acquisition will be accretive to its top line in the coming years, and generate long-term growth prospects. The company also remains focused on enhancing its store operations capacity.
Big Lots implemented a new retail inventory system to value inventory based on the merchandise class level, instead of the merchandise department level. This would help in getting a much more clear view on the profitability of merchandising initiatives undertaken. The company also hinted of focusing on new warehouse management systems, HR systems and a real estate system in the next two years.
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