The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Apple, Ford Motor, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Tesla Motors

Jan 24, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Jan. 24, 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 Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Toyota Motor Corp.(NYSE: TM), Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) and Tesla Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq:TSLA).


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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

No Homerun for Apple

Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) was able to beat earnings estimates in its fiscal first quarter following two consecutive misses, but everything else about the company's performance was lackluster at best. The revenue result fell short of expectations as iPhone sales were soft.

As a result, shares of AAPL were down more than 6% in the after hours.

The report was certainly not a disaster for this influential tech company, but it wasn't the turnaround that people were hoping for. Strong reports from IBM and Google yesterday had the market preparing for another good performance from the biggest bellwether in the industry. Now, we're left to wonder what kind of an impact this will have on earnings season, which has been moving along at a decent, though not spectacular, pace thus far.

Apple reported fiscal first quarter earnings per share of $13.81, which was nearly 3% better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate at $13.44. It was flat from last year's $13.87, but improved upon negative surprises of 2.03% in last year's fiscal fourth quarter and nearly 10% in the fiscal third quarter.

The problem was on the top line. Revenue of $54.5 billion was a record and more than 17% better on a year-over-year basis. However, it missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate at $54.8 billion. It was a very slight miss, but a miss nonetheless for a company that once left such expectations in the dust.

The biggest disappointment though was the all-important iPhones. It shipped 47.8 million of them in the quarter, which was less than expected. Sales of the iPad were in line with expectations. Apple may still be the biggest growth story over the long term, but it is obviously facing more, and better, competition than ever before.

Quite frankly, Apple probably needed a better quarter than this to get back on track. Shares of the company are down approximately 30% from its peak, and reached a nearly 52-week low last week. Furthermore, it is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The past 60 days have seen 18 of 39 earnings estimates for this fiscal year move lower, while only 2 were revised higher.

Ford Fusion Tops Safety Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has avowed the top vehicle safety rating on Ford Motor Co.'s (NYSE: F) 2013 Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. In the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing by NHTSA, which assess vehicle performance in frontal and side-impact crash tests and resistance to rollover, both the gasoline-powered and hybrid versions of Fusion obtained a five-star Overall Vehicle Score.

Recently, 2013 Fusion was also rated as the Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is the highest rating offered by IIHS for vehicle safety.

Both versions of Fusion are equipped with personal safety system, new safety belt technologies and airbag systems. The airbags are specifically designed to provide added protection to the passengers.

Recently, Toyota Motor Corp.'s (NYSE: TM) best-selling 2013 Camry passenger car received a poor crash-test rating from IIHS. However, its predecessor, 2012 Camry was chosen as a Top Safety Pick by IIHS and received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co.'s (NYSE: HMC) redesigned Accord sedan received high marks from IIHS. Accord was among a group of 2013 model year midsize cars tested by the insurance industry group.

Michigan-based Ford is one of the largest automobile producers in the world. The company operates in two segments: Automotive and Financial services. Although the company's primary selling ground is the U.S.; Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific constitute its other major markets.

Ford posted a 17.6% rise in earnings per share to 40 cents in the third quarter of the year from 34 cents a year ago, driven by impressive results in its North American operation and, to some extent, its Asian operation. With this, the company has also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10 cents per share. Total profit rose 15.6% to $1.6 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago.

However, total revenue in the quarter slid 3.0% to $32.1 billion due to lower revenues in South America, Europe and Financial Services operations that offset the marginal improvement in revenues in North America and Asia. However, revenues were higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $31.0 billion for the quarter. Currently, the company retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Tesla Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq:TSLA) is performing well. The company carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock.

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