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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ford Motor, Microsoft, Volkswagen, General Motors, Autodesk, Apple, Google and Adobe Systems

CHICAGO, Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 the Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F-Free Report), Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report), Volkswagen AG (OTC:VLKAY-Free Report), General Motors Company (NYSE:GM-Free Report), Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq:ADSK-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), Google (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) and Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE-Free Report).

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

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Ford Board to Meet Amid Mulally Exit Rumors


Amid rumors that Ford Motor Co.'s (NYSE:F-Free Report) president and chief executive officer Alan Roger Mulally may join Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report) as their CEO, the automaker's board has reportedly decided to meet this week. Meanwhile, Ford said that Mulally will continue to work on his One Ford plan.

Mulally has been Ford's president and CEO since Sep 5, 2006. He has helped the automaker to counter recessionary impacts and generate higher profits. During this tenure of seven years, Ford's shares have gained 104.5% to $16.81 as of Oct 7, 2013.

What is crucial for Ford is to have a clear idea about its leadership. Chairman Bill Ford, Mulally himself and chief operating officer Mark Fields have hinted at no change of the top brass through 2014. Nonetheless, a definite decision will help having a smooth transition if Mulally leaves and will also help management plan the future of One Ford plan.

Ford's accelerated product transformation plan One Ford is positively impacting the company. The foremost mission is to produce common vehicle models for all of its global segments within five years from now. Another key objective of the plan is to shift focus from trucks to small cars and deliver more vehicles from fewer core platforms. Ford already renewed 70% of its product line-up along with some discontinuations and has planned several new launches under the One Ford plan. Further, Ford expects to meet challenges in Europe and South America by executing its One Ford plan.

Ford currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other major automobile stocks worth considering are Volkswagen AG (OTC:VLKAY-Free Report) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM-Free Report). Both these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).



Autodesk to Acquire Graitec's Tech Assets

To strengthen its grip on structural fabrication and detailing technology, Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq:ADSK-Free Report) recently announced its decision to acquire some of the technology assets of Graitec, including its Advance Steel and Advance Concrete product lines and the employees of the concerned divisions of the company.

The proposed acquisition will help Autodesk to play a pivotal role in the industry's migration to Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the development of model-based workflows for structural engineers, detailers, fabricators and contractors. The acquisition is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014. However, financial details of the transaction were not divulged.

Autodesk has always adopted an aggressive acquisition strategy to develop its business over the last couple of years. The company acquired four companies and nine business combination and technology units during fiscal 2013, for a total of $273.3 million.

The company continues to expand its product portfolio through the acquisition of small start-ups that are easy to integrate into its own business line. We believe that Autodesk will continue to pursue strategic acquisitions in order to expand its offerings over the long term.

Although acquisitions are good for the company but it will take considerable amount of time for the company to gain from these acquisitions. We are concerned about the decline in the top line.

Revenues declined for the second straight quarter (down 1.2% in the second quarter), primarily due to a downturn in some of the company's end markets, which negatively impacted the company's products like AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT in the quarter.

In spite of considerable efforts, the company is witnessing revenue decline in the different geographical regions. The global markets have not fully recovered from the great recession. Most of them, particularly Southern and Central Europe, emerging economies and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, continue to suffer from volatile macro-economic conditions.

We believe that this will remain a major headwind over the next couple of years. So, it might be difficult for the company to reap benefits from these acquisitions. Autodesk is focusing on expanding its mobile applications for both Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) iOS and Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) Android platform, which will further drive market share, going forward.

However, sluggish macro-economic environment, weakness in emerging markets, customer concentration and increasing competition from Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE-Free Report) are the major concerns. Moreover, continued investments in new acquisitions are expected to hurt margins in the near term.

Currently, Autodesk has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.




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