The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Wal-Mart Stores, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Safeway, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage and NextEra Energy

Mar 05, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, March 5, 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 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (Nasdaq: GMCR), Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NYSE: NGVC) and NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE).


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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Walmart Expands Solar Capacity

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) along with SunEdison, which is a leading global solar energy services provider, has completed solar power installations at three Wal-Mart stores in Hawaii. The three Walmart stores of Kahului, Kailua-Kona and Kapolei will now be powered by renewable solar energy, generating more than 400,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar electricity in its first year of production and eliminating 320 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Walmart is focused on expanding its solar program in the islands and is geared up to complete installations at the Honolulu Sam's Club and Mililani Walmart on Oahu and the Lihue Walmart on Kauai.

Earlier, in Apr 2012, Walmart had announced 6 more solar projects in Colarado in partnership with SolarCity, which installs, owns and maintains solar power systems for Walmart. These six installations are expected to generate nearly three million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year and avoid spreading more than 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. Colorado expects to produce 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Walmart had also entered into a partnership with SolarCity in Sep 2011 to install solar-power panels at more than 60 stores in California, creating solar power for 75% of its stores. SolarCity has installed solar power panels at Walmart stores in California, Arizona and Colorado.

We believe that Walmart has got a good opportunity to expand and accelerate its solar power initiative program. Besides creating jobs and protecting the environment, these solar projects have also reduced costs for local businesses by lowering power bills.

Walmart is using new renewable technologies to achieve its goal of supplying 100% renewable energy to its stores. We thus remain confident that Walmart will continue to grow its solar energy program in the U.S. and around the world.

Walmart holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Retail and wholesale stocks that are presently doing favorable business include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (Nasdaq: GMCR), Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NYSE: NGVC). Green Mountain holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Safeway and Natural Grocers carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).


NextEra Sheds Hydro Assets

NextEra Energy Inc.'s (NYSE: NEE) business wing NextEra Energy Resources LLC concluded the sale of its entire equity interest in White Pine Hydro Investments LLC to a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners L.P.

NextEra Energy will receive approximately $760.0 million as proceeds from this transaction, subject to closing adjustments, which also includes the current $700 million of non-recourse debt. The agreement for the divestiture of interests was previously announced on Dec 21, 2012.

The White Pine asset portfolio comprised of a total of 351 megawatts ("MW") of hydroelectric generation properties in Maine and New Hampshire and is licensed to NextEra Energy Resources' ancillary, FPL Energy Maine Hydro, LLC. Annually the generation capacity from these units totals 1.6 million megawatt-hours.

Although the company is disposing all of its hydropower plants in Maine, NextEra will still be left with roughly 800 MW of oil-fired production capacity in the region.

The hydroelectric assets are situated across three major river systems -- the Kennebec River System, the Saco River System and the Androscoggin River System. The resources at Maine include hydroelectric generation facilities along with interests in eight storage reservoirs in New Hampshire as well as in Maine. A project is also located in the Presumpscot River System.

The purpose behind the asset sale is to focus on power generation in areas which have higher prospects. The company intends to utilize the gains from this transaction to plough back in renewable programs of wind and solar as well as in expanding its natural gas midstream businesses.

We believe the company's sizeable renewable basket will lend significant upside to returns, going forward. The expected rise in renewable consumption in the coming years on account of increasing preference for clean energy generation in the U.S. will further complement NextEra's growth trajectory.


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