The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Google, Territorial Bancorp, Financial Institutions, Center Bancorp and Signature Bank

Nov 07, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Nov. 07, 2013 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 the Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report), Territorial Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: TBNK-Free Report), Financial Institutions Inc. (Nasdaq: FISI-Free Report), Center Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: CNBC-Free Report) and Signature Bank (Nasdaq: SBNY-Free Report).


Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Google's Data Center Expansion

Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report) recently announced expansion plans for its data center in Southern Finland to meet the fast-growing demand for Internet usage and data storage capacity.

The €450 million ($607 million) expansion will take place over the next few years and create 800 additional positions.

The data center is located in a former paper mill in the south-eastern town of Hamina on the Baltic Sea coast. Google purchased it in 2009 for €40 million and invested another €350 million on converting and equipping it. The center began its operations in 2011 and currently employs approximately 125 people. The data center uses sea water from the Bay of Finland to reduce its cooling costs.

The growing demand for cloud computing has increased the need for data center expansion. The data centers comprise computer servers that process everything from Internet searches to emails, inquiries to maps, videos and other services.

Google's investment to expand its data center comes as no surprise given the need for more data-intensive services, such as Google search, Gmail, Google+ and YouTube in Europe. Currently, Google has 19 data centers worldwide, with 70 offices in more than 40 countries employing some 30,000 people.

The U.S. independent research firm, Gartner, predicts that datacenter hardware spending will most likely cross $126.2 billion in 2015. These technology warehouses are witnessing strength, as video streaming, smartphones and apps are boosting the demand for hard drives on which they run.

Google has done very well in the third quarter, with its earnings exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate due to solid growth in the core business, a growing digital business, good cost control and a lower tax rate. However, its ad technology has not kept up, leading to poorer ROI for advertisers, which has affected spending on Google platforms.

Territorial Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong third-quarter 2013 results and the recent hike in its common stock dividend. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 4%. Further, Territorial Bancorp has now delivered positive earnings surprises in the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 13%.Territorial Bancorp reported its third-quarter results on Oct 31 with earnings per share of 39 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 33 cents by 18.2% and the year-ago earnings of 36 cents by 8.3%.

Robust results for the reported quarter were primarily driven by organic growth, which reflected an elevated top line along with increased loans and deposits. Yet, these positives were partially offset by augmented non-interest expenses.

Concurrent with the earnings release, Territorial Bancorp announced a 7.7% rise in its quarterly common stock cash dividend to 14 cents per share. The increased dividend will be paid on Nov 27 to shareholders as of Nov 14, 2013.

Following third-quarter 2013 results and the dividend increase, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 5.1% to $1.45 per share, over the last 7 days. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 2.4% to $1.30 per share over the same time period.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides Territorial Bancorp, other Northeast banks that are worth considering include Financial Institutions Inc. (Nasdaq: FISI-Free Report), Center Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: CNBC-Free Report) and Signature Bank (Nasdaq: SBNY-Free Report). All 3 banks carry a Zacks Rank #1.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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