The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Target, Wal-Mart Stores,, Best Buy and Principal Financial Group

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

CHICAGO, Jan. 30, 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 Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) and Principal Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: PFG).


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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Target's Strategic Initiative

Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) as part of its P-fresh remodel program, which facilitates the company to sustain sales momentum and continue to drive traffic through fresh offerings and enhanced customer shopping experience plans to introduce a new section dedicated to grocery starting with its remodeled stores in Detroit.

The company is expected to allot 10,000 square feet area to fresh grocery.

The company plans to sustain its remodeling program at existing general merchandise locations by the addition of an expanded food section along with a greater assortment of dry dairy and frozen items, improved store layout and enhancement of in-store shopping experience across departments, such as apparel, home, beauty, shoes and baby.

During fiscal 2011, Target remodeled 400 locations, bringing the total count to 900 stores. In fiscal 2012, the company plans to complete about 230 more general merchandise remodels in the U.S. that will result in more than 1,100 remodeled stores by the end of the year.

Alongside, Target is seeking promising expansion opportunities in international markets such as Canada and Latin America and revealed its plans to introduce smaller-format stores called CityTarget, similar to that of its biggest rival, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT).

Moreover, Target announced its year-round price matching policy with the aim of offering its patrons the facility to match the prices being offered by online retail giants.

The company will match prices with Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AMZN

), Wal-Mart's,

Best Buy Co. Inc

.'s (NYSE:


), and Target believes that its price matching policy coupled with the REDcard reward program would provide it an edge over its competitors.

Going forward, the company expects its fourth quarter earnings to meet or exceed the lower end of its earlier announced guidance range of $1.64$1.74 per share. Moreover, the company expects low single-digit increase in its January comps.

Currently, Target holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Principal Financial Likely to Miss

Principal Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: PFG) is set to report fourth quarter and full year 2012 results on Jan 31. In the last quarter, it posted an 8.2% negative surprise. Let's see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors this Past Quarter Principal Financial's investment income is expected to be weighed on by the low interest rate environment. The company had earlier predicted that 2012 operating earnings would be affected by 1%–2%, if the low interest rate environment persists. The impact may increase by 3%–8%, if it persists longer.

Nevertheless, its sound capital position and financial liquidity are supportive of its expansion policies in the emerging markets as they offer ample growth opportunities. Principal Financial remains on track to deploy $800–$900 million in 2012 and expects to spend $400–$600 million in 2013.  It already enhanced its dividend by 17%.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Principal Financial is likely to beat earnings this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read:

Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method

) and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. This is not the case here as you will see below.

Positive Zacks ESP: That is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at 75 cents while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is lower at 74 cents. That is a difference of +1.35%.

Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell)

: Principal Financial's Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) lowers the predictive power. However, Zacks Rank #5 when combined with a positive ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with Zacks #4 and #5 Ranks (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

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