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Broadridge Financial Solutions, VeriFone Systems, Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson and Forest Laboratories highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

CHICAGO, Jan. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR-Free Report) as the Bull of the Day and VeriFone Systems (NYSE:PAY-Free Report)as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis ontheGilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq:GILD-Free Report), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ-Free Report) and Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE:FRX-Free Report).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR-Free Report) is a provider of technology solutions including investor communications, securities processing and operations to banks, broker-dealers, mutual funds, and corporate issuers globally.

It is the former Brokerage Services division of ADP and was spun-off from ADP in 2007. The company has seen a compounded annual fee growth of 6% since it was spun-off.

BR processes 85% of all outstanding shares voted in the US and 72% of shares voted outside of the US.

Broadridge reported financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2014 on November 7, 2013. Total Revenues increased 10% to $545 million from $496 million, primarily due to growth in net new business and by internal growth.

Non-GAAP Diluted earnings increased 117% to $0.39 per share, substantially ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.20 per share.

The management reaffirmed their full year guidance provided in August 2013--total revenue growth in the range of 2% to 4% and diluted earnings per share in the range of $2.00 to $2.10.

After excellent results and reaffirmation of guidance, analysts have increased their estimates for BR.

Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current and next fiscal year are now at $2.29 per share and $2.47 per share respectively, up from $2.06 per share and $2.26 per share, 60 days ago. Rising estimates sent BR to Zacks Rank # 1 (Strong Buy) on November 14, 2013.

Bear of the Day:

VeriFone Systems (NYSE:PAY-Free Report) is a provider of technology for electronic payment transactions and value-added services at the point of sale. Its customers are primarily global financial institutions, payment processors, petroleum companies, large retailers, government organizations and healthcare companies, as well as independent sales organizations. 

PAY reported the financial results for Q4 of the fiscal year ended October 31, 2013 on December 17, 2013. Net income for the quarter came in at $0.27 per share, compared to $0.76 per share a year ago. After including stock based compensation, the earnings were $0.13 per share, substantially short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.18 per share.

Gross margin contracted 310 basis points from the previous-year quarter and operating profit declined 70.4% mainly due to 11.5% year-over-year decline in revenues and 28.1% increase in operating expenses.

The management expects non-GAAP revenues to be in the range of $425.0 million–$430.0 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, almost unchanged from $429.0 million reported in the year-ago quarter.

Management expects first-quarter non-GAAP earnings to be $0.26 cents per share, down from $0.40 per share in the year-ago quarter.

Additional content:

Bullish on Gilead

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq:GILD-Free Report) had a very successful 2013 driven by its strong product portfolio. The biopharmaceutical company ended the year on a high with its blockbuster hopeful, Sovaldi, gaining U.S. approval for treating patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Sovaldi, with its high cure rates, a short treatment period and reduction/elimination of the need for interferon injections, has the potential to change the treatment paradigm in the HCV space. The approval has been highly welcomed by HCV patients, many of whom have postponed their treatments waiting for a better therapy like Sovaldi to gain approval. We expect uptake in Sovaldi sales to be rapid, given its broad label and the pent-up demand for new HCV therapies.

The U.S. approval for Sovaldi comes a few weeks after the clearance of Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ-Free Report) Olysio in combination with peg-IFN and ribavirin for treating chronic HCV patients.

The European approval of Sovaldi is also on track with the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommending its approval in the EU in Nov 2013. The positive opinion by the CHMP will be reviewed by the European Commission, which will issue final opinion on whether to approve the HCV candidate in the EU.

Other newly launched drugs like HIV therapies Complera/Eviplera (launched in 2011) and Stribild (launched in 2012) also performed very well during 2013. These drugs are expected to continue their strong performance in 2014 as well. In Dec 2013, Complera/Eviplera's label was expanded. Complera can now replace the existing antiretroviral treatment regimen in HIV infected adults. This should boost the sales potential of the drug further. The European approval of HIV drug Vitekta (elvitegravir) in Nov 2013 is another positive for Gilead.

Apart from the strong product portfolio, Gilead boasts of a robust pipeline. One of the most interesting candidates at Gilead is idelalisib (formerly GS-1101). The candidate, added to Gilead's pipeline through its acquisition of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals in 2011, is being developed for multiple indications.

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in Dec 2013, Gilead presented encouraging data on the candidate from a phase II study (101-09: n=125) in the indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (iNHL) indication, for which Gilead is seeking U.S. approval. Gilead also intends to seek approval for idelalisib in the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) indication and is in discussions with the FDA regarding the same. Idelalisib is under review in the EU in the CLL as well as iNHL indications. With the acceptance of Gilead's request for accelerated assessment by the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), idelalisib is expected to be available in the EU in the latter half of 2014 (assuming approval).

Idelalisib on approval will augment Gilead's top line further. Another promising candidate in Gilead's pipeline is GS-9973. Encouraging interim data on the candidate from a phase II study was also presented at the ASH in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or NHL. The successful development and subsequent commercialization of the pipeline candidates would boost Gilead's top line further.

In view of the above positives, we expect the company to perform well in 2014 as well. Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE:FRX-Free Report) carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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