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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Henry Schein, Cyberonics, DexCom, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bayer

CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 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 Henry Schein Inc. (Nasdaq:HSIC-Free Report), Cyberonics Inc. (Nasdaq:CYBX-Free Report), DexCom, Inc. (Nasdaq:DXCM-Free Report), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:REGN-Free Report) and Bayer (OTC:BAYRY-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 Monday's Analyst Blog:

Top 3 MedTech Stocks, Poised to Gain on Earnings

The medical devices industry, once acclaimed for its high-paying jobs and research and development opportunities, has been facing the threat of both the 2.3% medical device excise tax since its enactment in the beginning of 2013 and sequestration-related spending cuts to the U.S. federal budget. In fact, these factors have significantly restricted the industry's bottom-line improvement this past year.

To make matters worse, this year, more spending cuts are expected to come into effect which will last through 2021. The medical devices spending cut, if not repealed, may take a grave turn in 2014, leading to serious consequences like delaying progress in medical breakthroughs, deterioration in job creation, and tempering of economic growth.

The imposition of medical device excise tax as part of the Obamacare roll-out is taking a heavy toll on the medical devices sector, hurting pricing decisions of participants and subjecting them to tremendous margin pressure.

However, as a ray of hope amid this difficult scenario, National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently won a $1 billion or 3.5% increase in its fiscal 2014 budget from the previous year's post-sequestration budget (according to fiscal 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill released on Jan 13, 2014). As per a recent report published in lexology.com, this hike – although not sufficient – is expected to result in 385 million new grant opportunities for researchers.

Apart from NIH, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and The National Science Foundation (NSF) are some others who stand to gain from this bill. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also managed a $217 million increase in its 2014 budget over the previous year.

However, things are not at all cheery for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While the bill includes $3.7 billion for the CMS, this was $195 million less than what was enacted in the previous fiscal.

Despite the overall negative sentiment, it might be a good idea to bet on a handful of medical device stocks that are likely to beat earnings estimates this quarter. An earnings beat will translate into rapid price appreciation for these stocks. This will give you above-average return as you are getting these stocks at a cheaper price due to the overall negative sentiment in the sector. 

How to Choose the Best?

With the existence of a number of industry players, finding the right stocks that have the potential to beat earnings estimates could appear to be a difficult task, but our proprietary methodology makes it fairly simple for you. You could narrow down the list of choices by looking at stocks that have the combination of a favorable Zacks Rank – Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) – and a positive Zacks Earnings ESP.

Earnings ESP is our proprietary methodology for determining which stocks have the best chance to surprise with their next earnings announcement. It shows the percentage difference between the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Our research shows that for stocks with this combination, the chance of positive earnings surprise is as high as 70%.

3 Stocks Set to Beat Earnings

Here are three medical stocks that have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Henry Schein Inc. (Nasdaq:HSIC-Free Report), based in Melville, NY,  is a leading distributor of health care products and services to office-based dental, medical and animal health practitioners, dental laboratories, government as well as institutional health care clinics and other alternate-care sites across the globe. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #1 with an Earnings ESP of +1.44%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in the fourth quarter is pegged at $1.39.

Henry Schein delivered positive earnings surprises in three of the last four quarters with an average beat of 1.21%. Based on favorable market dynamics, the company's animal health and dental business is expected to deliver strong sales. Over the past several quarters, the company has demonstrated consistent growth via both organic and inorganic means.

Henry Schein will be reporting fourth-quarter 2013 earnings on Feb 11.

Cyberonics Inc. (Nasdaq:CYBX-Free Report) is a Zacks Rank #2 stock and has an Earnings ESP of +4.08%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is 49 cents.

Cyberonics is a medical technology company with core expertise in neuromodulation. The company provides Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The company has delivered positive earnings surprises in the trailing four quarter.

Cyberonics continued to gain from a solid foothold in the epilepsy market and strong overseas business. Further penetration in the still untapped epilepsy market should also catalyze growth. The company's lucrative pipeline is another upside.

Cyberonics will be reporting fourth-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings on Feb 20.

DexCom, Inc. (Nasdaq:DXCM-Free Report), based in San Diego, Calif., is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock with an Earnings ESP of +14.29%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter is pegged at a loss of 7 cents.

DexCom, Inc. is a medical device company focused on the design, development and commercialization of continuous glucose monitoring systems. These are designed particularly for ambulatory use for people with diabetes and by healthcare providers for the treatment of diabetic and non-diabetic patients. The company has delivered positive earnings surprises in the training four quarters with an average beat of 17.34%.

The company's G4 Platinum is expected to do well in the fourth quarter. Increased awareness of the need for continuous glucose monitoring, new products and data supporting blood glucose monitoring should help drive sales.

Dexcom will be reporting fourth-quarter 2013 earnings on Feb 20.

The Bottom Line

In order to sustain the current precarious condition within the MedTech space, key players are trying every possible means to change their business models and cost structures. They are undertaking various restructuring initiatives to counter costs associated with the implementation of the new tax. This renewed focus could result in continued mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and expansion to emerging markets going forward. They are also trying to divest their nonpaying operations in order to weather the tax burden. Nevertheless, you could safely rely on the industry outperformers that still possess earnings strength.

Will Regeneron (REGN) Disappoint in Q4?

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:REGN-Free Report) is set to report its fourth quarter 2013 results on Feb 11 before the opening bell. Last quarter it posted a +104.04% surprise. Let's see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors this Quarter

Regeneron's third quarter 2013 earnings breezed past the Zacks Consensus Estimate primarily on the back of strong sales of its eye drug, Eylea. We note that Regeneron has co-developed Eylea with the HealthCare unit of Bayer (OTC:BAYRY-Free Report). Eylea is expected to continue performing well in the coming quarters as well. Regeneron also managed to post positive earnings surprises in all of the last four quarters, with an average beat of 49.95%.

However, a number of negatives are likely to mar the overall results of Regeneron in the fourth quarter. Results will be affected by higher research and development expenses as Regeneron continues to develop its pipeline. Moreover, selling, general and administrative costs will increase due to costs associated with the marketing of Eylea. In addition to that, Regeneron's other two marketed drugs, Arcalyst and Zaltrap, are operating in highly competitive markets and will contribute meagerly to fourth quarter results.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Regeneron 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.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP for Regeneron is 0.00% since the Most Accurate Estimate stands at 99 cents, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Zacks Rank #4 (Sell): Regeneron's Zacks Rank #4 makes matters worse. We caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions, as is the case here.

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

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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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