The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ford Motor, AT&T, General Motors, Daimler and White Mountains Insurance Group

Zacks

For Immediate Release
 
Chicago, IL – November 22, 2013 – 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 Ford Motor Co. (F-Free Report), AT&T, Inc. (T-Free Report), General Motors Company (GM-Free Report), Daimler AG (DDAIF-Free Report) and White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. (WTM-Free Report).
 
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Ford Pioneers CNG & LNG Pickup

Ford Motor Co. (F-Free Report) has become the first truck manufacturer to offer a half-ton pickup truck capable of running on both compressed natural gas (:CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (:LPG). The automaker has started the production of the 2014 F-150 with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package.

The optional prep package of Ford comprises hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. This allows the truck to run on both CNG and LPG using separate fuel systems.

Ford F-150 comes with a 3.7-liter V6 engine, which in combination with the bi-fuel package, gives it the capacity to cover up to 750 miles on the combined tanks of gasoline and CNG. The truck has an EPA-estimated rating of 23 mpg on the highway and a combined rating of 19 mpg.

Ford is manufacturing the CNG-capable F-150 on the request of its business and fleet customers. The fuel has the advantage of low price as well as low emissions. CNG has an average price of $2.10 per gallon of gasoline equivalent in the U.S., compared with $3.29 per gallon for unleaded regular fuel. Moreover, CNG leads to 30% lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Further, almost 20 states are planning tax incentives and rebates for CNG-converted vehicles, which will result in further savings for fleet administrators.

Ford is planning to introduce 8 commercial vehicles with the gaseous-prep option in other vehicles as well by summer. These include Transit Connect van and wagon; Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab; E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis; F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab; F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550); F-650 medium-duty truck; F53 and F59 stripped chassis; and 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup. This will be the largest batch of CNG-capable vehicles offered by any full-line manufacturer.

Ford expects to sell over 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in 2013, up 25% from 2012. The automaker’s clientele for alternative-fuel vehicles includes telecommunication giant AT&T, Inc. (T-Free Report), which bought 650 F-350 chassis cabs with the CNG-prep option.

Ford currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other major automobile stocks worth considering are General Motors Company (GM-Free Report) and Daimler AG (DDAIF-Free Report). While Daimler is a Zacks Rank #1 stock, General Motors carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

White Mountain Upped to Strong Buy
 
On Nov 21, Zacks Investment Research upgraded White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. (WTM-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
 
Why the Upgrade?
 
White Mountains has witnessed rising earnings estimates on the back of a strong third-quarter 2013. Also, this property-casualty insurer and re-insurer delivered positive earnings surprises in 3 of the last 4 quarters with a substantial average beat of 241%.
 
White Mountains reported third-quarter 2013 results on Oct 28. Operating net income came in at $9.20 per share, significantly surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 81.8%. The results also soared 14% from $8.07 per share reported in the third quarter of 2012.
 
Earnings were primarily aided by the decrease in total expenses during the reported quarter. Total expenses declined 7.7% year over year due to lower loss and loss adjustment expenses as well as lower general and administrative expenses.
 
Total liabilities of White Mountains decreased 7.1% to $8.02 billion as of Sep 30 from the 2012-end level. The reduction came on the back of reduced debt and liabilities held for sale of the company.
 
Healthy returns from investments aided to the increase in adjusted book value per share of White Mountains. Book value per share of $622 million at the end of third quarter increased 2.8% from Sep 30, 2012 level.
 
White Mountains also scores strongly with rating agencies. Recently, A.M. Best Co. has reiterated the issuer credit ratings (:ICR) of “bbb” of White Mountains with stable outlook..
 
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 4.1% to $27.90 per share over the last 30 days. For 2014, the estimate was lifted by 0.4% to $23.60 per share over the same time frame.

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