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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Apple, China Mobile, Amazon, Melco Crown Entertainment and Western Digital

CHICAGO, Jan. 24, 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 Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), China Mobile (NYSE:CHL-Free Report), Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report), Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (Nasdaq:MPEL-Free Report) and Western Digital (Nasdaq:WDC-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:

Will Apple (AAPL) Miss Earnings Estimates?

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) is set to report first quarter fiscal 2014 results on Jan 27. Last quarter it posted a 4.82% positive surprise. The company has posted an average positive earnings surprise of 2.23% over the past four quarters.  Let's see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors This Past Quarter

We believe that strong holiday season sales and the deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL-Free Report) will help Apple to post strong results in the quarter.  Apple reported strong revenue growth in China in the fourth quarter. The China mobile deal will solidify Apple's position to a greater extent in China and will enhance profitability going forward.

However, Apple's iOS continues to face significant competition from Google's Android operating system in most of the other markets. The significant decline in revenues in the U.S and Rest of Asia suggests market share loss to low cost smartphones and tablets produced by Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei and Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report). This remains a major headwind going forward.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Apple is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Negative Zacks ESP: The Expected Surprise Prediction is -0.43%. This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at $13.98 while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is higher at $14.04.

Zacks Rank #2 (Buy): Apple's Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with Zacks #4 and #5 Ranks (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are a couple other companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter: 

  • Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (Nasdaq:MPEL-Free Report), Earnings ESP of +5.0% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)
  • Western Digital (Nasdaq:WDC-Free Report), Earnings ESP of +0.96% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

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.

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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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