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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:BlackBerry, T-Mobile US, SK Telecom, Nokia and Ford Motor

CHICAGO, April 3, 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 BlackBerry Limited (Nasdaq:BBRY-Free Report), T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE:TMUS-Free Report), SK Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE:SKM-Free Report), Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK-Free Report) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F-Free Report).

Zacks Investment Research, Inc., www.zacks.com

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

BlackBerry Cancels T-Mobile Licensing Deal

Canadian handset manufacturer BlackBerry Limited (Nasdaq:BBRY-Free Report) has decided not to renew its licensing contract with T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE:TMUS-Free Report) after its expiration on Apr 25, 2014.

However, BlackBerry will collaborate with T-Mobile to serve its existing customers or customers who will purchase the former's devices from T-Mobile's current inventory. BlackBerry is in talks with other carrier partners to offer alternatives to customers who want to switch from T-Mobile.

The long–standing relationship between the companies was tainted after T-Mobile's trade-in program in March 2014. The deal promised BlackBerry users a lucrative $200 for trading in their devices for a new handset. T-Mobile offered an extra $50 concession to customers who exchanged for a BlackBerry Q10 or Z10. However, 94% of the T-Mobile customers using BlackBerry phones switched to other smartphones.

BlackBerry recently reported mixed financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.The bottom line significantly surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate but the top line missed the same. The improvement was mainly buoyed by recovery of inventory charges and continuous reduction in operating expenses. In the reported quarter, BlackBerry sold 3.4 million smartphones, out of which 2.3 million were BlackBerry 7.

BlackBerry is making a serious effort to bring the company back to profits. Recently, as part of its restructuring program, the company reached a deal to vend most of its real estate holdings in Canada. BlackBerry will sell over 3 million square feet of properties and will lease back a portion of the assets sold. In Jan 2014, BlackBerry announced its objective to sell the holdings in a bid to strengthen its balance sheet.

Other Stocks

BlackBerry currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other better-ranked stocks in the wireless industry which are worth considering include SK Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE:SKM-Free Report) and Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK-Free Report). Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Ford Reports Solid March Sales

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F-Free Report) reported a 3.4% increase in the U.S. sales to 244,167 units in Mar 2014. Retail sales also increased 3% year over year to 166,030 vehicles. This is the highest retail sales in March in the last 8 years. Sales were significantly higher in the second half of the month.

Strong sales were driven by a 32% surge in sales in California. The western part of the U.S. contributed maximum to sales growth.

Product-wise, Fusion, F-Series and Lincoln MKZ had record high sales and thus, contributed significantly to overall sales. Ford Fusion reported an 8.8% increase in sales to 32,963 units in March, driven by a 22% increase in retail sales in western U.S. Meanwhile, Lincoln MKZ witnessed a 72% surge in March sales to 4,052 vehicles. Even the F-Series trucks sold 70,940 units, which is the highest March sales since 2008. In fact, this is only the fourth time during the last seven years, when the truck line witnessed monthly sales higher than 70,000 units.

Brand-wise, the automaker's Ford brand's sales grew 2.6% to 235,198 units in Mar 2014. Meanwhile, the Lincoln brand had a 31% surge in sales to 8,969 units, due to the record sales of MKZ.

Like most U.S. automakers, Ford had been reporting weak monthly sales since Dec 2013 due to unfavorable weather conditions. In fact, sales declined in the first 2 months of 2014, resulting in a 2.6% fall in Ford's sales in the first quarter of 2014. Nevertheless, with the recovery in sales in March, we can expect better results in the months ahead.

Ford currently 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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