Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Allstate, Adobe Systems, American Financial Group, Emc Insurance Group and Global Indemnity

Zacks

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – January 4, 2013 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Allstate (ALL) as the Bull of the Day and Adobe Systems (ADBE) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on American Financial Group Inc. (AFG), Emc Insurance Group Inc. (EMCI) and Global Indemnity Plc Ireland (GBLI).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Allstate's (ALL) third quarter earnings solidly beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate due to significant reduction in catastrophe losses and claims coupled with improved premiums, ROE and book value. An appreciated investment portfolio also boosted the operating cash flow and liquidity.

Agency expansions, ratings affirmation, dividend increment, product restructuring and acquisitions validate Allstate's long-term stability. Though the current volatile economy and catastrophe losses will continue to impact the results in the fourth quarter of 2012, continued synergies are expected from Allstate's industry-leading position, diversification and pricing discipline.

Our six-month target price of $48.00 per share equates to about 13.0x our earnings estimate for 2012. Combined with the $0.88 per share annual dividend, this target price implies an expected total return of 20.6% over that period, which is consistent with our Outperform recommendation.

 Bear of the Day:

Adobe Systems' (ADBE) fourth quarter earnings exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate, but we feel the subscription service will hurt Adobe's revenue growth. Hence, we are downgrading our recommendation on Adobe shares from Neutral to Underperform.

Adobe lowered its fiscal 2013 guidance from $4.4 billion to $4.1 billion, considering the faster uptake the of Creative Cloud subscription model. We expect near-term revenue to remain under pressure.

The company's expected earnings growth rate over the next 5 years is well below the average for the industry. Hence the downgrade in recommendation. Our $34.00 target price, 26.0X 2014 EPS, reflects this view.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

American Financial: A Strong Buy

On January 2, Zacks Investment Research upgraded American Financial Group Inc. (AFG) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

American Financial has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of a strong solid third-quarter performance and an enhanced guidance for 2012. Moreover, this property & casualty insurer delivered positive earnings surprises in all the 4 quarters with an average beat of 18.7%. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 8%.

American Financial reported third-quarter results on October 29. Non-GAAP earnings per share came in at 82 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 39%. However, it lagged the year-ago number by 8.9%.

The upside was largely due to higher income in the Annuity and Supplemental Insurance Group.

Based on its progress and to accommodate the expected loss from Hurricane Sandy, the company revised its earnings per share projection for 2012 to $3.10–$3.30 from $3.10–$3.50.

Additionally, American Financial declared a special dividend of 25 cents per share, besides an 11.4% hike in its regular quarterly dividend.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 is $2.66 per share as 3 of the 7 estimates were revised upward over the last 60 days. The current estimate is below the guidance range provided by American Financial. For 2013, one estimate moved higher over the same time frame, lifting the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.1% to $3.71 per share.

Other Stocks to Consider

The following property & casualty insurers with a favorable Zacks Rank are also performing well and are worth considering.

1) Emc Insurance Group Inc. (EMCI) carries a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy)
2) Global Indemnity Plc Ireland (GBLI) holds a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy)

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

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Continuous analyst 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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Read the analyst report on ALL

Read the analyst report on ADBE

Read the analyst report on AFG

Read the analyst report on EMCI

Read the analyst report on GBLI

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