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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: HeartWare International, Thoratec, News Corp., Walt Disney and Time Warner

CHICAGO, Nov. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 HeartWare International Inc. (Nasdaq:HTWR), Thoratec Corporation (Nasdaq:THOR), News Corporation (Nasdaq:NWSA), Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Much Awaited FDA Nod for HeartWare

HeartWare International Inc. (Nasdaq:HTWR), a global provider of miniaturized ventricular assist devices (VAD) for diagnosis of advanced heart failure, recently disclosed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted clearance for its HeartWare Ventricular Assist System as a bridge to heart transplantation device for patients with end-stage heart failure.

The HeartWare system was the lead pipeline candidate of the company. The news marks a milestone in the company's operating history as reflected in the bullish momentum of its stock price. Shares of HeartWare surged 9.18% to close at $89.54 on November 20, 2012.  

The FDA approval was eagerly awaited ever since HeartWare submitted its Premarket Approval (PMA) application in December 2010. The company obtained European CE Mark for the HeartWare system in 2009 and Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval in 2011.

The FDA approval of HeartWare system will challenge the dominance of Thoratec Corporation (Nasdaq:THOR) in the bridge-to-transplant (BTT) indication. Moreover, the first-mover advantage of Thoratec in the domestic BTT market might come to naught as HeartWare closes the technological gap, resulting in a slower growth profile for Thoratec. HeartWare's acquisition of WorldHeart Corporation has already helped it establish a sound base for expansion in the U.S. and offshore markets and overcome entry barriers.

Based on statistics from the American Heart Association, roughly 5.8 million Americans suffer from heart failure. The numbers are increasing as 0.6 million cases are diagnosed annually. Thus, the approval will enable HeartWare to capture a sizeable market share in the U.S.

To date, HeartWare relies heavily on the sale of its offerings in the overseas market with revenues from the U.S. contributing approximately 16% to company-wide revenues in the third quarter. The clearance and subsequent commercialization efforts will enable HeartWare to gain a foothold in the largest market for medical devices.

We currently have a long-term 'Neutral' recommendation on HeartWare, which carries a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

News Corp Says Yes to Yes Network

In order to bolster its position in regional sports television business, News Corporation (Nasdaq:NWSA) recently entered into a deal to acquire 49% stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES). The agreement also provides an option to the diversified media conglomerate to increase its stake up to 80% after three years.

However, News Corporation did not comment on the financial details of the transaction that would result in the reduction of ownership interest of Yankee Global Enterprises, Goldman Sachs and other investors in the YES Network. YES also confirmed that Yankees baseball will be aired on its network through 2042.

News Corporation believes that the acquisition would help enhance its portfolio of regional sports channels. We believe that the buyout will strengthen the company's Fox Sports Media Group position in the lucrative sports entertainment business, and would help woo advertisers, who are more interested in live telecast of sports in order to reach mass viewers. On this front, the company faces stiff competition from Walt Disney Company's (NYSE:DIS) sports coverage network, ESPN.

Fox Sports Media Group currently has 20 U.S. regional sports networks in its kitty. Commenced in 2002, YES broadcasts live coverage of New York Yankees baseball, Brooklyn Nets basketball and other sports events.

News Corporation hit the headlines when it decided to split into two separate publicly traded publishing and media and entertainment entities. There has been immense pressure from shareholders to divest the publishing arm, which has been grappling with lower operating profit compared with the entertainment unit.

The Publishing Company will comprise publishing businesses, education unit and the integrated marketing services business. On the other hand, Entertainment Company will include cable and television assets, filmed entertainment, and direct satellite broadcasting businesses.

We believe that the split will help News Corporation to lift its image, which was tainted due to the phone hacking scandal that resulted in the closure of the publication of 'The News of the World' and abstinence from acquiring the remaining 61% stake in the British Sky Broadcasting Group.

News Corporation recently reported first-quarter 2013 earnings of 43 cents a share that beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 37 cents, and rose 34% from 32 cents earned in the prior-year quarter on the back of double-digit growth across Cable Networks.

Currently, we have a long-term 'Neutral' recommendation on the stock. Moreover, News Corporation, which competes with Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX), holds a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term 'Hold' rating.

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