Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Athenahealth, Sears Holdings, General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat SpA

Oct 03, 2011, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Oct. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Athenahealth, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHN) as the Bull of the Day and Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and Fiat SpA (OTC: FIATY).


Full analysis of all these stocks is available at

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

We initiate our coverage on Athenahealth, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHN) with an Outperform rating. Second-quarter fiscal 2011 earnings per share of $0.14 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.11. Athenahealth's web-based deployment provides a low-cost, scalable service while its flexible rules engine leads to higher efficiency in claims settlements.

The company has made rapid strides in capturing the EHR business of physician practices. However, this segment is shrinking as hospitals increasingly absorb independent practices. Athenahealth has geared itself for the enterprise segment through its strategic alliance with Microsoft and acquisition of Proxsys, both this year. Expansion of operating margin, a rising proportion of recurring revenues and better-than-expected quarterly results are pillars of strength.

It is noteworthy that the company has traditionally maintained high client satisfaction rates, which is important in an industry where referrals are an important source of business. Based on the company's stellar performance in the past and its potential for forecast-beating results in the future, we initiate a price target of $76 per share.

Bear of the Day:

Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) disappoints with its overall second-quarter 2011 results. The company's adjusted loss of $1.13 per share was well above the Zacks Consensus Estimated loss of $0.64 per share, while widening drastically from the prior-year quarter loss of $0.19 per share, primarily due to a sluggish top-line performance.

Management's cost-cutting initiatives for boosting profits did not help; improvement in merchandise mix and customer services would have been a better option. Moreover, intense competition and exposure to adverse foreign currency translations may undermine the company's future operating performance.

Furthermore, rising debt and declining cash and equivalents may adversely impact the company's future expansion and operational activities. Currently, we are maintaining a long-term Underperform recommendation on the stock.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

S&P Raises GM's Ratings

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) raised its corporate credit rating on General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) by two notches to BB+ from BB- as its workers recently ratified a 4-year contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW). The agency also lifted its rating outlook on the company to "Stable" from "Positive". It believes the contract will help GM maintain profitability and continue generating cash in North America.

A couple of days back, workers at GM ratified the UAW deal as a majority of the workers voted for the same. Among the 48,500 workers, 65% of production workers, and 63% of skilled-trade workers voted for the deal.

Most of the workers, except at the entry-level, would not get annual pay raises, but signing bonuses totaling $5,000, profit-sharing checks and other payments amounting to at least $11,500 during the tenure of the deal.

Wages of entry-level workers would be increased 22% from the current $15.78 per hour. GM currently employs about 1,900 entry-level workers.

The deal would also save more than 6,000 U.S. jobs and create another 5,100 jobs at GM plants. The UAW estimated the deal would also add another 57,600 jobs at suppliers and other auto-related businesses.

It will save $50 million this year and $145 million in future years for GM as it would no longer need to pay for factory workers' legal services. As a result, factory worker costs would be reduced to $5 billion per year from $16 billion in 2005 and $11 billion in 2007.

After GM, UAW would now turn to its Motown rival, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and then to Chrysler Group LLC, controlled by Italy's Fiat SpA (OTC: FIATY), to reach an agreement.

S&P expects to raise Ford's corporate credit rating as well once the labor negotiations are over and a new and competitive contract is reached. Currently, Ford has a BB- credit rating from S&P with positive implications. The agency may lift it to BB+, which is a notch below investment grade, and assign a "Stable" outlook.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous analyst coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today by visiting

About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leonard Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at

Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.