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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Lexmark International, Procter & Gamble, Post Holdings, Kraft Foods Group and Hain Celestial Group

CHICAGO, Feb. 13, 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 Lexmark International Inc. (NYSE:LXK-Free Report), Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG-Free Report), Post Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:POST-Free Report), Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:KRFT-Free Report) and Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:HAIN-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 Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Lexmark International: Strong Buy

On Feb 11, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Lexmark International Inc. (NYSE:LXK-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The upgrade came on the back of positive estimate revisions over the last 30 days. Lexmark's shares have given an outstanding one-year return of 72.7%. The company also delivered positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters with an average beat of 5.45%.

Why the Upgrade?

Over the last 30 days, Lexmark witnessed one upward as well as a downward revision for the current quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate increased a couple of cents to 85 cents over the same period of time.

Lexmark also witnessed four positive estimate revisions in the last 30 days which prompted a 22 cents increase in earnings estimates for the fiscal 2014 which is now pegged at $3.90 per share.

It is also worth noting that the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Lexmark's first quarter and fiscal 2014 earnings are within management's guided range. Lexmark expects its first-quarter earnings (non-GAAP) guidance range of 80–90 cents. Non-GAAP earnings for fiscal 2014 are expected in the range of $3.80–$4.00 per share.

Some of the buoyancy surrounding the shares is related to the company's growth across all its business segments and improved Imaging Solutions and Services (ISS) performance in the last reported quarter. We see favorable growth prospects for Lexmark in the software sector and it is also trying to innovate with new hardware solutions.

Despite an overall tepid outlook for the printing industry, Lexmark is doing really well in the Managed Printing Services (MPS) market and is winning deals continuously. We consider the Inkjet exit to be a positive as Lexmark will now be able to focus more on MPS and the software business where growth prospects are better.

Moreover, the company's restructuring and share buyback plans could boost share price in the near term. These factors culminated in the Zacks Rank upgrade on Lexmark shares.

P&G Cuts View on Forex Headwinds

Consumer products giant, The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG-Free Report) recently reduced its fiscal 2014 sales and earnings forecasts to reflect the impact of higher-than-expected currency headwinds.

Core earnings per share are expected to grow in the range of 3%–5% in fiscal 2014 down from 5%–7% to reflect currency rate fluctuations in Venezuela and recent currency devaluations by several other developing countries. Currency headwinds are now expected to hurt 2014 earnings by 9%, higher than 7% as expected earlier. On a constant currency basis, core earnings are still expected to grow 12%–14%.

Net revenue growth is expected between 0% and 2%, down from 1%–2% due to higher-than-expected currency headwinds. Currency is now expected to hurt revenues by 2%–3%, higher than 2% as expected earlier. However, organic sales are still expected to increase between 3% and 4% in fiscal 2014.

In addition to the Venezuelan bolivar swings, the earnings outlook was adjusted to reflect the devaluation of the Argentine peso, Turkish lira, South African rand, Russian ruble, Ukrainian hryvnia, Brazilian real and several other currencies to the United States dollar.

It is noteworthy that last year too P&G had lowered its financial outlook to reflect headwinds from Venezuela's currency devaluation. With around 60% of the company's business generated outside North America, weakness in developing countries' currencies lowers the value of revenues and profits earned in those markets.

Other Stocks to Consider

P&G carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked consumer staples companies include Post Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:POST-Free Report), Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:KRFT-Free Report) and The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:HAIN-Free Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (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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