Zacks.com 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: Marriott International (NYSE: MAR), American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AXL), American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ: AGNC), American Public Education, Inc. (NASDAQ: APEI) and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WYE).
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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:
Marriott Sell Rating Maintained
We maintain our Sell rating on shares of Marriott International (NYSE: MAR). The operating environment in the lodging sector has weakened substantially in recent quarters. Additionally, the company's timeshare segment is struggling, with sales down and credit market turmoil preventing the company from completing an expected note sale.
Given our forecast for negative earnings growth in 2009, along with the ongoing uncertainty regarding the state of the economy and its potential impact on Marriott's lodging and timeshare businesses, we rate the shares a Sell at this time.
American Axle Still Dented
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AXL) is a leading supplier of driveline systems, modules and components for the light vehicle market. The company makes axles, driveshafts and chassis components for light trucks, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger cars.
The present condition of the North American automotive industry characterized by slow car sales, production cuts, excessive inventories, rising commodity costs, and market share losses of leading U.S. automakers are affecting the company negatively.
American Capital Agcy Ests Upped
American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ: AGNC) had a relatively good 3rd quarter; earnings were $1.26 per share, 31 cents per share higher than our estimates.
AGNC beat our estimates primarily due to gains from options. We have increased our full-year 2008 estimates to $2.50 per share, up from $2.30 previously. The company announced a $1.00 per share 4th quarter dividend. With asset sales, the company reduced leverage from 8.3x in 2Q08 to 5.4x in 3Q08. The yield is attractive at nearly 19%, although excluding option gains coverage is tight. We rate the shares of hold due to continued uncertainty in the capital markets. With interest rates now at historical lows, pre-payments should increase at a rapid pace over the next couple of quarters which could negatively affect interest income.
American Public Education Pricey
American Public Education, Inc. (NASDAQ: APEI) has a unique franchise of providing online education to the military, public service and civilian markets. Revenues have grown at a 45% five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR), and revenue growth accelerated to a 73% rate in 2007 with the certification to participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV with classes that began in late 2006.
In addition, management has thrice raised guidance in 2008. However, given the stock's lofty valuation and more difficult year-over-year comparisons, the Hold rating is maintained.
Wyeth Pressured by Generics
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WYE) is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical and healthcare products companies. It focuses on the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology products and non-prescription medicines.
Wyeth's recent performance has been stunted due to the entry of generic Protonix in late 2007. EPS growth through 2009 will benefit from recently implemented productivity initiatives and share repurchases. Recent pipeline setbacks and generic competition will cause a drag on financial performance.
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