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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:JPMorgan, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and IBM

CHICAGO, April 21, 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 JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM-Free Report), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE-Free Report), Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO-Free Report), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ-Free Report) and IBM Corp. (NYSE:IBM-Free Report).

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

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

Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Dow 30 Stock Roundup

The Dow notched up substantial gains during a holiday shortened week, boosted by several positive factors. Promising retail sales data propelled the blue chip index upward on Monday.

The Dow index gained again on Tuesday following upbeat quarterly results from key components. Encouraging industrial production numbers and China data egged on the blue chip index on Wednesday. Comments from the Fed Chair added to the positive sentiment. During the first three trading days, the Dow has gained 1.56%.

Last Week's Performance

The Dow dropped 0.9% last Friday, hit by another day of selling pressure in bio-tech and technology stocks. Disappointing corporate earnings also weighed on the markets.

Dismal corporate earnings results from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM-Free Report) led the decline among the Dow components after its shares plunged 3.7%. Higher wholesale prices in March and an increase in preliminary consumer sentiment in April failed to restrict the day's losses.

For the week, the blue-chip index ended 2.3% lower, snapping a three-week run of gains. Benchmarks declined for the week due to intense selling pressure in momentum and technology stocks. Additionally, discouraging Chinese trade data unnerved investors.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE-Free Report) was a big drag at the start of the week. The stock led the decline among the Dow components on Monday. Shares of the company were down almost 3% after its breast-cancer drug palbociclib did well in clinical trials but the overall survival benefits was not yet revealed to be statistically significant. However, on Wednesday, benchmarks soared, primarily boosted by encouraging minutes from the central bank's policy meeting.

The Dow Last Week

Encouraging retail sales data helped the Dow gain 0.9% on Monday. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that seasonally adjusted sales of retail and food services rose 1.1% in March, its biggest gain since September 2012. The gain was led by the increase in demand for auto sales. Sales of motor vehicles jumped 3.1%, its biggest rise since September 2012. Investors also remained focused on recent developments in Ukraine.

The Dow gained 0.6% on Tuesday after blue-chip companies The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO-Free Report) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ-Free Report) reported upbeat quarterly results. CPI improved 0.2% in March, higher than the consensus estimate of a 0.1% increase. The Empire State Manufacturing Index fell to 1.3 in April from 5.6 in March. This fall was in sharp contrast to the consensus estimate of a rise to 8.1. The day's mixed economic data had little impact on benchmarks.

Markets finished in the green on Wednesday, primarily boosted by encouraging industrial production data and better-than-expected Chinese economic data. Industrial production improved 0.7% in March after advancing 1.2% in February. Additionally, China's GDP increased 7.4% in the first quarter, more than the analysts' expectation of an increase by 7.3%. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech in New York was another positive factor yesterday. The Dow gained substantially, by 1%.

Components Which Moved the Index

IBM Corp. (NYSE:IBM-Free Report) reported disappointing revenues in the first quarter of 2014, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fifth straight quarter. However, earnings of $2.54 per share were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Earnings per share declined 15.3% from the year-ago quarter and a massive 58.6% from the previous quarter due to lower revenue base and steep increase in total operating expenses.

The weaker-than-expected first-quarter results are expected to hurt IBM's ability to achieve fiscal 2014 earnings target of $18.00 per share. Shares declined 4.2% ($8.20) in after-hours trading yesterday.

The Coca-Cola Company started 2014 on a positive note, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues in the first quarter while meeting earnings expectations as volumes gained slightly. This is the first time that Coca-Cola has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate for sales in the past six quarters. Shares were up 2% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

First-quarter 2014 adjusted earnings came in at 44 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Earnings declined 4% on a year-over-year basis due to currency headwinds as a strong dollar lowered the value of the company's ex-U.S. sales. Earnings grew 5% year over year on a constant currency basis as positive price/mix gains, strong developing market volumes and cost control made up for higher marketing costs.

Johnson & Johnson, the first among the large health care companies to report first quarter results, beat expectations yet again. The company's first-quarter 2014 earnings (excluding special items) were $1.54 per share, well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.48 per share and 6.9% above the year-ago earnings of $1.44 per share.

Despite the negative impact of currency fluctuation, Johnson & Johnson recorded growth on the back of strong pharma product sales. Johnson & Johnson's first quarter sales increased 3.5% year-over-year to $18.1 billion, just above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $17.9 billion.

While operational factors favorably impacted sales by 5.3%, currency fluctuations had a negative impact of 1.8%.Including one-time items, Johnson & Johnson reported first quarter earnings of $1.64 per share, well above the year-ago earnings of $1.22.

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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