Zacks Equity Research highlights Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) as the Bull of the Day and Plexus Corporation (Nasdaq: PLXS) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Kellogg Company (NYSE: K), General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS) and Ralcorp Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RAH).
Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.
Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:
Bull of the Day:
We are upgrading our recommendation on Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) to Outperform based on third quarter results, which matched the Zacks Consensus Estimate, and continuous cost reduction initiatives. Despite soaring fuel prices, earnings on a GAAP basis climbed on fare hikes, capacity cuts and unbundled offerings.
Delta continues to make efforts to reduce its operating expenses, including both fuel and non-fuel costs. The company is also progressing well on upgrading seats, replacing older planes in its fleet, installing WiFi and expanding Economy Comfort to other aircrafts.
Additionally, Delta is expanding its footprint in both domestic and international markets, thereby strengthening its competitive position. Furthermore, merger synergies from Northwest Airlines as well as efforts to deleverage its balance sheet make the stock more attractive.
Bear of the Day:
Plexus Corporation (Nasdaq: PLXS) reported mixed fourth quarter 2011 financial results. The company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.50 per share but fell shy of the revenue expectation of $540.0 million. Plexus continues to face cut-throat competition in the EMS market, where component shortages and supply chain constraints are increasing operational complexities.
Moreover, Plexus continues to invest in new sites and increasing headcount that may affect profitability in the near term. We maintain our Underperform rating and set a target price of $25.00.
Further, investment in Plexus is expected to generate just 10% over the next 5 years, compared to the peer group average of 11.5%. We therefore believe that downside potential exists.
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Kellogg Misses, Provides Guidance
Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) has posted third-quarter 2011 earnings of 80 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 89 cents. The earnings also lagged the prior-year earnings of 90 cents per share by 11%. On a currency-neutral basis, the earnings in the reported quarter plummeted 13% year over year.
Kellogg’s results were driven by weak economic environment, increased cost of goods sold, increased supply-chain costs and due to the reinstatement of incentive compensation costs.
Following the earnings results, Kellogg reaffirmed its full-year 2011 internal net sales growth guidance to a range of 4% to 5%. The increased net sales outlook is expected to offset anticipated higher cost pressures. For 2012, internal net sales are expected to grow by 4% to 5%, above long-term annual targets, reflecting price/mix benefits and a strengthening innovation pipeline.
The company lowered its 2011 internal operating profit guidance to a range of down 2% to 4% due to the impact of the third quarter results and expected continued investments in supply chain during the remainder of the year. For 2012, Kellogg expects growth in operating profit to be below its long-term annual targets, as it continues to invest in the future.
Kellogg also expects its full-year 2011 guidance of currency-neutral earnings per share growth to be approximately flat on a year-over-year basis. Assuming no foreign exchange impact, this implies earnings per share of approximately $3.27 to $3.33. Further, the company estimates a foreign exchange benefit of 8 cents, which would result in reported 2011 earnings per share guidance in the range of $3.35 to $3.41.
For 2012, Kellogg expects currency-neutral earnings per share to grow 2% to 4% including a benefit from the three-year $2.5 billion share repurchase program and the impact of continued investments in supply chain, the re-implementation of SAP, and an increase in the level of investment in brand building.
Headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, Kellogg engages in manufacture and marketing of ready-to-eat cereal and convenience foods. General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS) and Ralcorp Holdings Inc. (NYSE: RAH) are its competitors.
Currently, Kellogg holds a Zacks #3 Rank, translating into a short-term Hold rating. On a long-term basis, we maintain a Neutral recommendation on the stock.
Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.
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.
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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.
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