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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Comcast, Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon Communications and Hewlett-Packard

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 Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq:CMCSA-Free Report), Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC-Free Report), AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T-Free Report), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ-Free Report) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ-Free Report).

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

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Business Services: A Boon for Cable MSOs

The small and mid-sized business (SMB) segment has become a significant growth opportunity for the cable TV industry. Considerable improvement in the business data and video traffic is expected to act as a growth catalyst for the industry.

Furthermore, managing wireless backhaul traffic for mobile towers has also opened up a multi-billion dollar market opportunity. Cable operators are now gradually offering innovative wireless broadband services to their business customers.

The proposed merger between Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq:CMCSA-Free Report) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC-Free Report) may significantly change the internal dynamics of the SMB segment, if the deal gets regulatory approval.

These two large cable operators are immensely exploring this segment as a counter-strategy to protect their loss in the legacy video-offering market as telecom giants like AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T-Free Report) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ-Free Report) are aggressively rolling out fiber-based video services.

Currently, the market size of the U.S. Business Services segment stands at around $8 billion. Various industry researches estimate that the SMB segment will offer a market opportunity worth $20 billion - $30 billion. In 2013, Comcast and Time Warner Cable together generated $5.5 billion revenues from this segment.

Comcast is gradually shifting focus from the small-sized business segment to the mid-sized business segment. The combination of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is likely to achieve the necessary economies of scale to serve large business enterprises also.

Comcast can target large business establishments by offering VoIP services. Earlier, the company acquired privately held VoIP service provider New Global Telecom and privately held local exchange carrier Cimco Communications.

The advanced technologies of these companies together with Comcast's high-speed Internet and Ethernet networks will enable it to offer industry leading VoIP services to large enterprises.

H-P Settles Shareholder Lawsuit

Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ-Free Report) increased 2.69% on Apr 1 after it reportedly settled a long standing shareholder lawsuit for $57 million. U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford in Santa Ana, CA had accepted the lawsuit filed by certain shareholders of the tech company for allegedly 'defrauding' them by discarding a certain business model undertaken in 2011.

Moreover, the company took several initiatives that backfired and led to share price declines during the period. These initiatives involved the scrapping of WebOS, buying Autonomy plc for $11.1 billion and the decision to spin-off the personal computer business. Later, the company backtracked from the spin-off decision. Additionally, H-P suspended sales of its TouchPad.

Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, the Laborers' Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada in Oakville, Ontario were among the plaintiffs who filed the complaint accusing H-P of decisions that led to significant erosion in market capital and shareholder value during the period.

Now, with the settlement, the company can breathe a sigh of relief and concentrate on its shift to a high-margin software and services business.

The settlement would not possibly bear any material impact on H-P's financials. The company has a strong cash balance of $16.17 billion and generated a healthy cash flow of $2.99 billion in the fiscal first-quarter 2014.

H-P's traction in the cloud, security and big data segments are the positives, going forward. Restructuring initiatives and management changes are also expected to keep the company on the growth path. The company's shift to the core software business will also help it to achieve long-term profitability.

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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