The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Gap, BP, Oceaneering International, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil

Feb 12, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Feb. 12, 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 Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), BP plc (NYSE: BP), Oceaneering International Inc. (NYSE: OII), Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS.A) and Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO).


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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Gap Posts Strong January Comps

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) posted strong January comparable-store sales growth of 8% (comps) that surpassed analyst expectations and improved sharply from a decline of 4% in the comparable prior-year period, as the company witnessed continued improvement in sales across all its North American brands.

Comps at Gap North America increased 8% against a 5% decline recorded in the prior-year period. Banana Republic North America's same-store sales soared 8% versus a 6% increase in January last year. Results at its Old Navy North America segment reflected a whopping 12% rise in comps compared with a 6% fall in the comparable prior-year period.

However, comps at the International business inched up 1% for the month compared with a 10% decline recorded in the prior-year period.

Net sales for the five-weeks ended Feb 2, 2013 summed to $1.13 billion compared with the year-ago period (four weeks ended Jan 28, 2012) sales of $833 million.

Further, the company indicated that the sales results for January, the fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 include an additional 53rd week, while all comps results exclude the additional week.

This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock's performance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 also remained strong with comps increasing 5% compared to a 4% decline in the year-ago period. The comps improvement was driven by a 4% gain at Gap North America, 3% increase in Banana Republic North America and an 8% rise in Old Navy North America, offset by a 2% dip in International comps. Total sales for the fourth quarter grew 10.5% to $4.73 billion.

In fiscal 2012, the company's net sales climbed 7.6% to $15.65 billion compared with $14.55 billion in the year-ago period. Improvements in net sales were primarily driven by 5% growth in the company's comps.

Gap is scheduled to release its fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 results on Feb 28, 2013. The company expects to report fourth quarter earnings of 70 cents71 cents. Further, the company projects year-end inventory per store a little ahead of its previous guidance as in-transit inventory grew resulting from the arrival of early Easter holiday in 2013.

BP, Oceaneering in Supply Pact

BP Exploration Operating Company Limited, a unit of the British energy giant BP plc (NYSE: BP) has awarded a contract to oilfield services company, Oceaneering International Inc. (NYSE: OII). Per the deal, Oceaneering will supply umbilicals for BP's Quad 204 field development, west of Shetland, in the United Kingdom. The contract is valued at $45 million.

The umbilicals cables to be delivered are 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) in length. Oceaneering expects the final phase of product manufacturing to be completed by the second quarter of 2015.

This deal will provide BP with 2 riser and 5 infield umbilicals for electrical and hydraulic power. The umbilicals will also offer chemical injection to subsea trees and production manifolds located at the U.K. energy major's drill centers at Quad 204.

During the third quarter of 2012, BP and Oceaneering signed a 10-year term agreement − the Global Subsea Hardware Umbilical Agreement − under which the latter is committed to supply umbilicals as well as ancillary equipment and services to BP at satisfying order specifications and terms. This latest contract is part of this agreement.

The Quad 204 development project in the U.K. North Sea is part of BP's endeavor to extend the life of Schiehallion and Loyal fields through 2035. Situated on Blocks 204 and 205, Schiehallion field is considered one of the largest and deepest developments in the North Sea. BP operates the field with a 33.35% interest. Associate partners in the project include Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS.A) with a 49.01% stake, while Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO), Murphy Oil Corporation (MUR) and OMV each hold a 5.88% stake, respectively. The development plan of Loyal is also underway.

BP remains busy in reshaping its portfolio through the divestment of smaller non-core properties to pay spill-related costs, while holding on to potential big resources. Hence, refocused upstream activities and a leading position in the Gulf region, following the Macondo incident, will definitely help BP in overcoming its near-term tribulations.

BP's volume shrunk approximately 7% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2012, mainly due to field declines and divestments. However, major project start-ups, an enhanced operation in Angola and higher output in other areas partly offset the decline. Hence, the company's aim to focus on four high-margin areas – Angola, Azerbaijan, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, will definitely aid BP to grow its output there over the next five years.

BP currently holds a Zacks Rank #3, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months.

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