The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Interpublic Group of Companies, CMS Energy, Alliant Energy, Cleco and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners

Oct 17, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Oct. 17, 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 theInterpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG-Free Report), CMS Energy Corp. (NYSE: CMS-Free Report), Alliant Energy Corp. (NYSE: LNT-Free Report), Cleco Corp. (NYSE: CNL-Free Report) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE: BIP-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:

Interpublic's McCann Recognized for Works

The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG-Free Report) has been in the limelight for quite some time winning prestigious awards over the past few months. The company has delivered stellar returns of around 45% so far this year and is currently trading at $16.86. Recently, Interpublic's subsidiary, McCann Worldgroup received the "Agency Network of the Year" award for Eastern Europe region at Golden Drum's 20th Annual Awards.

The advertising arm of McCann Worldgroup – McCann Erickson – received two Grand Prix (McCann Bucharest for Rom and McCann Estonia for KredEx.), five Golds and 11 Silvers.

The Golden Drum Awards is Central and Eastern Europe's most prominent advertising awards festival. It gives recognition to the year's best work worldwide in print and broadcast advertising, digital, public relations as well as mobile and integrated work.

Apart from the latest award, McCann Worldgroup has other accolades to its credit.  The company was the recipient of the "Network of the Year" award for the Asia-Pacific region at the 2013 Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity in Singapore. Moreover, McCann Melbourne won the "Agency Of The Year" award at the same event.

Overall, McCann Worldgroup stole the show at the Spikes festival by winning 8 Grand Prix awards, 14 Gold Spikes, 11 Silver Spikes and 11 Bronze Spikes for its agencies' operations in Shanghai, Mumbai, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangkok, the Philippines and Melbourne.

Additionally, McCann Worldgroup received five Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival for McCann Melbourne's "Dumb Ways to Die" – a campaign for Metro Trains in Australia.

McCann Worldgroup is a leading global marketing company that caters to advertising, digital marketing/relationship management, event marketing/promotion, consulting/design and public relations, among others.

McCann Worldgroup's parent company, Interpublic, offers a wide variety of advertising and marketing communication services. Moreover, it offers public relations, meeting and event production, sports and entertainment marketing, corporate and brand identity as well as strategic marketing consulting services to customers in more than 100 countries.

Interpublic currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

CMS Energy Slashes Fuel Costs 44%

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest gas utility and a subsidiary of CMS Energy Corp. (NYSE: CMS-Free Report), has lowered its fuel costs by 44% over the past five years, thereby saving $260 million for customers this winter compared to five years ago. An average residential customer is expected to save $50 due to lower heating costs this winter.

On the whole, the bill of an average residential customer is down $200 this heating season compared to five years ago as a result of this initiative taken by the company.

Consumers Energy delivers natural gas service to 1.7 million customers in 45 counties in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. It aims at saving additional money for customers by making their homes more energy efficient.

The company is working to lower its costs as a part of its Promise to Michigan program that aims at providing affordable and reliable services to its customers. This is not the first time that it has lowered its fuel costs. In Mar 2013, Consumers Energy had declared to curtail its natural gas fuel costs by 15%. The company indicated that these efforts to trim gas fuel costs will assist Michigan families and businesses to save approximately $200 million by 2014.

Albeit natural gas prices have trended down in recent times, the cuts employed by CMS Energy are impressive by any standard. This has only been possible as Consumers Energy is uniquely positioned to take advantage of lower-priced natural gas due to its massive storage system.

Also, the company continues to invest in its natural gas infrastructure to take advantage of lower-cost supplies, benefiting customers now and in the future. Its projects include expansion of gas compressor stations and replacement of natural gas pipelines.

CMS Energy plans to spend approximately $6.5 billion to $7.0 billion in the next five years (2013 – 2017) on upgrading its distribution system and generation assets through projects such as advanced metering infrastructure and renewable investments. Consumers Energy intends to build a 700 MW new natural gas-fired power plant in Genesee County.

With its robust pipeline of regulated investment opportunities and favorable regulatory treatment, the company remains on track to achieve its long-term EPS growth target of 5% to 7% and annual rate base growth of 6% to 7%.

However, in the near term, lackluster electricity sales growth is hampering the earnings prospects of the company. Lower demand due to a tepid economy has significantly affected retail sales, as well as industrial sales volume. Also, pending regulatory cases are a concern.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third quarter 2013 is 55 cents, down a projected 2.68% year over year.

CMS Energy presently has a short-term Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Stocks that are worth considering in the space are Alliant Energy Corp. (NYSE: LNT-Free Report), Cleco Corp. (NYSE: CNL-Free Report) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE: BIP-Free Report), all with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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

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