Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: LeanTaaS Blog, Kevin Jackson, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Larry Alton

News Feed Item

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Cisco Systems, IBM, Lithia Motors, Constellation Brands and Barrett Business Services

CHICAGO, Aug. 14, 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 Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO-Free Report), IBM (NYSE:IBM-Free Report), Lithia Motors Inc. (NYSE:LAD-Free Report), Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE:STZ-Free Report) and Barrett Business Services Inc. (Nasdaq:BBSI-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 Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Cisco Beats Again on Top and Bottom Lines

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO-Free Report) has reported its fiscal Q4 2014 earnings after the bell Wednesday, with typically positive results: the tech giant posted earnings per share (EPS) of 50 cents per share (actual, GAAP) on total sales in the quarter of $12.36 billion. This topped the Zacks consensus estimates of 48 cents per share on $12.12 billion in revenues, respectively.

It would seem at first blush that Cisco's foray a few years back diving into cloud-based solutions is showing signs of paying off, especially with beating expectations on the revenue side (an earnings beat for Cisco is a no-brainer by this point; the company hasn't posted a negative earnings surprise since 2008). Cisco's products (consisting of mostly routers and switchers, where they are still a first-tier producer) brought in $9.5 billion in the quarter, while services garnered $2.8 billion.

It will likely take the conference call coming a bit later to really dig into the substance of these numbers, especially regarding guidance for fiscal year 2015, but the year-over-year growth is likely a good sign that the move toward the "Intercloud" is now bearing some fruit. Gross margins seem to be a bit under pressure, which has been the case with Cisco -- as well as plenty other big names in tech trying to make the jump into the high-growth end, like IBM (NYSE:IBM-Free Report) -- for a while now.

Cisco also bought back 1.5 billion in CSCO shares for the quarter, another thing investors have come to expect. The company's 4% positive earnings surprise is about exactly the average for the past four quarters, as well. What's nice to see for Cisco that's not so typical is the back-to-back beats on the top line.

Analysts typically have made no adjustments to earnings expectations for Cisco Systems in the quarter; once guidance is established and certain aspects are discussed on the call -- among them enterprise IT spending trends, growth in China and Cisco's 9% revenue exposure in Russia -- investors will have a better idea how to play the Zacks Rank #3 stock going forward. Year to date, Cisco shares are up 12%, but year over year they're down about 4%.

3 Stocks to Brave a Volatile Market

While the naysayers warn of a crash every time the market hiccups, it is evident that we are currently in one of the most powerful and resilient bull markets we've seen in a long time. Five years of cheap money, pumped-up stock prices and gradually rebuilding investor confidence have powered the market to reach some uncharted territories.

But how long can it last? Amid the melee between the bulls and the bears, a layman investor might get lost. Choosing stocks that promise earnings growth may not be enough to ensure returns if the much-dreaded crash finally hits. And even if one manages to find some stocks that have enough potential to hold ground, investing in most them might not be that lucrative as most of them no longer hold reasonable valuations.

Let's find some stocks using traditional indicators of stability and growth.

What Drives the Bottom Line?

Sales drive earnings, earnings drive the stock price. This time-honored adage still holds true as an investment idea reviewed in bare essentials.

Since the most recent recession hit six years ago, many companies have slashed costs and restructured operations to become leaner and more efficient. This has translated into improved profit margins, leading to earnings growth despite sedated sales growth.

But earnings advancements based on margin expansion can outpace sales growth for only so long. Over the long term, earnings growth typically trails along the lines of revenue growth.

Companies have been aggressively chasing growth in recent times, as evidenced by the spurt in mergers and acquisitions. Granted, the companies had huge amounts of cash reserves, and the credit markets were practically encouraging them to lever up. But the primary reason remained the relentless pursuit of top-line growth that has become harder and harder to come across in these tricky economic conditions.

Such behavior by the companies only serves to underline the importance of robust revenue growth as a key metric to select stocks.

What Drives Revenues?

Consumer spending is a direct determinant of business sales. With the GDP growing at an impressive rate of 4% in the second quarter, the economy seems to be gaining momentum after shrinking 2.1% in the previous quarter. The unemployment rate is steadily declining. And as hiring picks up, consumer demand will follow suit. Acceleration in wage growth could also boost consumer spending.

In fact, the country trade deficit for June shrank 7%, which could imply a modest upward revision to the already strong second-quarter GDP estimates. Most importantly, it prompts gutsy third-quarter GDP expectations.

As U.S. consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of the economic output, GDP expansion augurs well for organic growth of the business community.

The Power of Industry Rank

Research indicates that about half the price performance of a stock can be attributed to the industry group that it belongs to. Using a sorting metric called Zacks Industry Rank, one can screen for stocks that belong to the top-performing industries. A top Zacks Industry Rank signifies that more stocks within that group are likely to have upward earnings estimate revisions, implying bullish outlook for the industry.

Historically too, we have found that the top 50% of Zacks-Ranked Industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1. So it's a good idea to leverage the Zacks Industry Rank to shortlist stocks.

Growth & Valuation Metrics

Apart from a strong track record of sales growth and a robust industry rank, one should look for companies with strong long–term growth expectations. This should help select companies with strong earnings potential driven by revenue growth.

We have shortlisted three stocks based on the above metrics and incorporating valuation multiples. All these stocks are trading at a discount to their respective peer group average forward P/E and P/S ratios.

Lithia Motors Inc. (NYSE:LAD-Free Report)

Lithia Motors is a leading automobile retailer and automotive franchisee in the U.S., serving both urban and rural markets. With the auto market continuing to enjoy robust momentum, Lithia Motors is displaying healthy growth across its segments.

The auto dealer has been on an acquisition spree lately, acquiring/opening eight stores so far this year. The acquisitions of Vic Alfonso Cadillac, Braley & Graham Buick GMC and Access Ford Lincoln are expected to add $165 million annually to its revenues. The company is also set to acquire DCH Auto Group Inc., which will augment revenues by $2.3 billion approximately per annum.

The Retail/Wholesale Auto/Truck industry currently holds a Zacks Industry Rank of 34 out of 265 industries, placing it in the top 15% bracket.

Sales Growth in Previous Year = 20.8%

Long-Term Growth Consensus Estimate = 25%

P/E Ratio: 18.1; Peer Group P/E Ratio: 24.2

P/S Ratio: 0.5; Peer Group P/S Ratio: 1.0

Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE:STZ-Free Report)

Constellation Brands is a leading international producer and marketer of beverage alcohol brands, boasting a formidable portfolio of popular labels across the wine, spirits and imported beer categories. The company is the largest multi-category alcohol supplier in the U.S. and the largest wine company in the world.

The company's top-line has benefited from the consolidation of the Crown Import business as well as robust demand for beer. Last year, the company acquired Grupo Modelo's U.S. beer business for a sum of $4.75 billion, boosting its sales by $2 billion in fiscal 2014.

Constellation's beer segment now represents about half of its total sales; and it grew a strong 10% last year, on the back of new product offerings, new points of distribution and effective marketing and advertising strategies.

The Alcoholic Beverages industry currently holds a Zacks Industry Rank of 34 out of 265 industries, placing it in the top 13% bracket.

Sales Growth in Previous Year = 72.6%

Long-Term Growth Consensus Estimate = 17.3%

P/E Ratio: 19.9; Peer Group P/E Ratio: 20.3

P/S Ratio: 3.0; Peer Group P/S Ratio: 13.7

Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)

Barrett Business Services Inc. (Nasdaq:BBSI-Free Report)

Barrett Business Services, an outsourcing firm, provides business management solutions, combining human resource outsourcing and professional management consulting. With the company's brand gaining more recognition, its client penetration is reaching deeper, ranging from industries such as telecommunications and transportation & shipping to manufacturing and food processing.

The company's commendable sales growth in recent times was attributable to organic growth arising from existing client base as well as strong referral channels. Also, the company's client retention rate of over 90% indicates sustained revenue growth acceleration, going forward.

The outsourcing industry currently holds a Zacks Industry Rank of 96 out of 265 industries, placing it in the top 36% bracket.

Sales Growth in Previous Year = 32.3%

Long-Term Growth Consensus Estimate = 22.5%

P/E Ratio: 18.8; Peer Group P/E Ratio: 20.1

P/S Ratio: 0.7; Peer Group P/S Ratio: 2.8

Zacks Rank #1

Bottom Line

The crux remains that the top-line drives the bottom-line. A trend of bottom-line growth consistently outpacing top-line growth in most quarters has been a matter of concern throughout the recovery. Companies have jacked up earnings for years by slashing costs. However, going forward, it is clear that only companies with strong revenue growth prospects can retain their earnings momentum and augment shareholder wealth.

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

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 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.

About Zacks

Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; 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.

Get the full Report on CSCO - FREE

Get the full Report on IBM - FREE

Get the full Report on LAD - FREE

Get the full Report on STZ - FREE

Get the full Report on BBSI - FREE

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

[email protected]

http://www.zacks.com

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.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO

SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...