The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Yum! Brands, Apollo Education Group, Intuit, Yahoo! and Microsoft

Zacks

For Immediate Release
 
Chicago, IL – July 17, 2014 – 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 Yum! Brands (YUM-Free Report), Apollo Education Group, Inc. (APOL-Free Report), Intuit Inc. (INTU-Free Report), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO-Free Report) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Free Report).
 
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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Yum! Brands (YUM) Reports In-Line Q2 Earnings

Global quick-service restaurant (:QSR) firm Yum! Brands (YUM-Free Report) posted Q2 earnings after the bell Wednesday, where top and bottom line results matched Zacks consensus estimates of 73 cents per share on $3.2 billion in sales. YUM shares are selling down in the after-market on the news.

While better-than-expected growth in its extremely important China region was the good news for Yum!, the bad news was that year-over-year Q2 comparable store sales ("comps") came short of expectations for two of the company's three components: Pizza Hut fell 3% (+0.1% was estimated) and Taco Bell comps gained 2% (3.6% was estimated).

Nearly half of Yum!'s total revenues come from China, so its 15% comps year over year is a welcome sight for investors. In fact, Yum! Brands is often cited as a good way to gauge how well the Chinese consumer is doing economically, as Yum! restaurants -- particularly KFC -- are extremely popular in China.

The problem for the company is clearly on the domestic side, where more-nutritious eating habits for the American consumer, along with loads of QSR competition in the U.S., are taking a "bite" out of Yum! Brands' sales. Comps were down for Yum! in Q1 as well, though this was then attributed mostly to poor weather in the winter months of early 2014.

Yum!'s Q2 conference call is scheduled for tomorrow morning, so we're sure to hear lots of questions about how domestic restaurants planning on combatting weakening market share. Taco Bell, for instance, has been expanding into more breakfast options, and its Cantina Power Menu launches on Thursday. But unless YUM is planning on marketing pizza and fried chicken for breakfast, it's tough to see how this build-out will have a broader effect.

Especially considering that today, YUM shares hit their all-time highs. Sure, a turnaround in China is welcome news, but Yum!'s board has got a lot to swallow currently. Yum! Brands is trading down roughly 2.6% in late Wednesday trading.

Apollo Education, Intuit Partner to Improve Student Outcome

University of Phoenix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (APOL-Free Report) has partnered with Intuit Inc. (INTU-Free Report) to incorporate the latter’s QuickBooks Online software in its accounting degree program. On completion of the course, students will be QuickBooks certified through Intuit.

The University of Phoenix School of Business will include QuickBooks Online in its Accounting courses ACC/290 and ACC/291 (Principles of Accounting I and II). These accounting programs are compulsory for all accounting students at the University of Phoenix School of Business.

QuickBooks Online is a popular solution widely used by accounting professionals across the world. The inclusion of QuickBooks Online in accounting programs will improve the employability of the students by bridging the gap between education and business. 
 
Apollo Education has always focused on connecting students to careers of their choice by offering innovative and effective education programs that produce concrete results. These programs ensure that students can adapt easily to the new workforce demands, technological innovations and economic, political and competitive dynamics.

Apollo Education has been focusing on corporate and community college partnerships to educate the workforce. Apollo has established nearly 3,000 corporate relationships with some major Fortune 500 companies. The company is working directly with organizations such as Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO-Free Report), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Free Report) and the American Red Cross, among many others. Student retention/persistence within this channel is significantly higher than the traditional channels.

Apollo Education is consistently enhancing and expanding its services and investing in academic quality to improve student experience and outcomes. The company plans to offer 400 new programs in 2014 in most promising areas of business, education, IT and healthcare. Also, the University to Phoenix is creating professional education offerings (non-degree programs) with 45 new certificate programs in 2014.

Apollo Education carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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