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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Facebook and JPMorgan Chase

CHICAGO, Aug. 8, 2014 /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 Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOGL-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO-Free Report), Facebook (Nasdaq:FB-Free Report) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM-Free Report).

Zacks Investment Research, Inc., www.zacks.com

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

Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Google on Acquisition Spree, Buys Directr and Emu

Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOGL-Free Report) recently acquired two small enterprises in a move to bolster its advertising and mobile businesses.

The technology giant announced the acquisition of Directr Inc., a video-creation company, and a mobile-messaging app Emu.  Financial terms of both the deals were not disclosed.

Boosting Video Ads via Directr

Directr is a Boston-based mobile-video app for Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) iOS, and is used by a number of small businesses to easily make and upload short marketing videos on the Internet.

Video advertising is being increasingly chosen over traditional display advertising because of the growing importance of mobile devices where display ads don't work that well. Google remains the largest player in a shrinking mobile search market. So it needs to innovate rapidly to fend off competition from non-search apps such as Facebook that are grabbing an increasing percentage of mobile advertising dollars. Google intends to use the acquisition to further enhance YouTube's advertising tools.

Following the deal, Directr's staff will join YouTube's video-ads team. Directr will continue with its service and will gradually be made available for free.

Boosting Mobile Capabilities through Emu

Emu, a California-based start-up, offers a smartphone-texting service that includes built-in personal-assistant technology to help users schedule meetings, share locations, set reminders for activities such as lunches and movies. Emu works a lot like Siri, or Google Now, by adding important information to texts after users enter them by using location awareness and artificial intelligence.

The deal will help Google to enhance Google Now and will boost its capabilities beyond being just a contextual launcher. It can also bring about improvements in Hangouts, which is currently lacking in features and help it transform into a central, multi-featured mode of communications on the Android platform.

The Emu app will be closed following the deal.

To Conclude

Google is a stable company with consistent revenue growth and profitability. It remains the dominant player in search across desktop and mobile platforms. To add to its capabilities and bolster its existing businesses, Google continues to acquire smaller companies with specialized technology and/or strong presence in chosen markets.

However, the impact of acquisitions is not clear because Google usually keeps them small and says little about them. Intensifying competition from companies like Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO-Free Report) and Facebook (Nasdaq:FB-Free Report) is also a concern.

Google currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

J.P. Morgan Sees LA Lawsuit Dismissed

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II accepted the bid filed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM-Free Report) regarding the dismissal of a lawsuit charged against the bank by the city of Los Angeles. The lawsuit accused the banking behemoth of discriminatory lending practices towards minority borrowers.

According to Wright, claims associated with Washington Mutual Inc. were invalid under a federal law presiding over the wind-down of failed banks. However, LA was permitted to file a revised complaint related to JPMorgan's lending practices excluding WaMu's. Notably, JPMorgan had purchased the failed WaMu in Sep 2008.

It has been notified that JPMorgan was involved in predatory lending practices since 2004 and provided overcharged (higher fees and interest rates) loans to minority borrowers, leading to increased number of foreclosures. Moreover, the bank has been accused by the city of discriminating against borrowers in providing loans based on their race.

Notably, the mortgage crisis in Los Angeles led homeowners to lose around $78.8 million in home values following over 200,000 foreclosures from 2008-2012. Further, Los Angeles lost property tax revenue of around $481 million.

Los Angeles has sued other large banks on similar charges in Dec 2013. One bank's plea to dismiss its case was rejected by the U.S. District Judge. A large German bank had also been previously accused by Los Angeles of letting the foreclosed homes in low-income regions to deteriorate into slum conditions. The case was settled in Jun 2013.

For JPMorgan, the dismissal of the lawsuit comes as a major relief. However, the company continues to face several cases and probes regarding its business conduct preceding the financial crisis. Though the bank has resolved many litigation issues in the past one year, increasing legal hassles keep dragging down its financials.

Currently, JPMorgan carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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

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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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