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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alcoa, Nordstrom, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy

CHICAGO, Jan. 10, 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 Alcoa (NYSE:AA-Free Report), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN-Free Report), Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT-Free Report), Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq:BBBY-Free Report) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY-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 Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Alcoa Misses Q4 on Smelting Ops

Long-time industrial bellwether Alcoa (NYSE:AA-Free Report) reported earnings after the bell Thursday lower than expectations, though revenues came in stronger than expected. Alcoa reported an actual $0.04 earnings per share on revenues of $5.6 billion in its 4th quarter, higher than the $5213 million expected by the Zacks Consensus Estimate, but two cents lower on the bottom line, a 33% negative surprise in EPS.

The company tied $1.7 billion in costs related to legacy smelting operations, and realized aluminum prices fell 7% year over year (which has been a constant bugaboo for Alcoa and other aluminum companies for the past several quarters). Further, just today Alcoa announced it has reached a settlement with the SEC and DOJ regarding bribery charges to Bahraini officials. Though these numbers do not show up in AA's fiscal 2013 report, the company has agreed to pay five installments of $161 million over the next four years.

That said, free cash flow is positive at $498 million, with $1.4 billion in cash on hand. Improved liquidity was one of Alcoa's goals for the quarter.

So while aluminum prices seem to remain a sticking point for Alcoa and others, the global economic recovery looks to be underway, which should be a long-term positive for Alcoa. It would also make today's agreed-upon settlement charges go down easier to know that overall revenues will pick up once global demand for aluminum products increases.

Nordstrom Expands Store Network

In keeping with its store expansion strategy, Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN-Free Report) plans to open a new Nordstrom rack store each in Queens, New York and Brandon, Florida.

The 39,000 square-feet store in New York, which is slated to open doors by the fall of 2014, will mark the company's first store in Queens. The project will be taken care of by Onex Real Estate Partners. This two-floor outlet will be a part of the dynamic 700,000 square-feet shopping mall, The Shops at SkyView Center.

This mall situated centrally in Queens, across Long Island Rail Road, harbors many other retailers including Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT-Free Report), Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq:BBBY-Free Report), Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY-Free Report), Old Navy and few more. In spring 2014, the company plans to open its first Nordstrom rack store in Brooklyn, on Fulton Street. Further, it is set to open its second Brooklyn store in fall, at the Gateway Center.

The 32,700 square-feet store in Florida, expected to open in fall 2014, will mark the third Nordstrom Rack outlet in the greater Tampa area, with the first one being situated at Walters Crossing since 2010. Also since 2001, the company has been operating a full-line outlet in International Plaza, a shopping mall in Tampa.

This new store in Florida will be part of the 440,442 square-feet shopping center, Lake Brandon Plaza, across Interstate 75 in Brandon. This latest addition is expected to draw traffic to the mall.

Nordstrom Rack, being the off-price retail segment of the company, caters to stylish and trend-savvy customers. It stocks a broad range of fashionable apparel, footwear and other accessories at discounted prices. These Racks usually keep items from the main Nordstrom stores and the online shopping website, www.Nordstrom.com. Alongside, these stores stack products, bought from other big brands and sold at the company.

Nordstrom's latest store openings signify the company's commitment to strengthen its network with the aim of driving top-line growth. Nordstrom's focus on store expansion is evident from the series of Rack store openings since the beginning of fiscal 2013. As of Jan 7, 2014, the company operated 261 outlets across 35 states, with 141 Nordstrom Racks, 117 full-line stores, 2 Jeffrey boutiques and 1 clearance outlet.

Currently, this Seattle-based company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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

About Zacks Equity Research

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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.

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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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