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The Progressive Corporation, Stamps.com, Nike, Instagram and Apple highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

Zacks Equity Research
P/B ratio is emerging as a convenient tool for identifying low-priced stocks that have high growth prospects.

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 11, 2019 – Zacks Equity Research The Progressive Corporation PGR as the Bull of the Day, Stamps.com STMP as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Nike NKE, Instagram FB and Apple AAPL.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

The Progressive Corporation has seen its shares climb 21% so far this year and it looks poised for double-digit top and bottom-line growth in 2019. Progressive is also a solid dividend payer that has been on a strong run over the last few years.

Overview

Progressive is the third largest auto insurer in the U.S., behind only State Farm and Geico, and ahead of Allstate, with over $30 billion in premiums written in 2018. The company boasts roughly 11% of total market share and offers insurance for both personal and commercial automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, and more. Progressive is also in the home insurance business and allows its customers to bundle auto and property together.

As we mentioned at the top, Progressive is a strong dividend payer. The company also operates a relatively unique system when it comes to returning value to its shareholder. Progressive pays an annual variable dividend, with the annual amount calculated based on the firm’s insurance operating performance for that particular year. The insurer paid out a dividend of $2.51 per share most recently, with a dividend yield of 3.48%. This looks impressive against the Insurance - Property and Casualty industry's yield of 1.6% and the S&P 500's 1.97% yield.

Furthermore, Progressive has increased its dividend four times during the last five years for an average annual increase of 17.12%. On top of its annual variable dividend, Progressive just recently announced that it will start to pay a quarterly dividend, which will begin at $0.10 a share. “We believe we've been great stewards of capital here at Progressive, and we certainly expect to continue to be,” Progressive CFO John Sauerland said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

“As a reminder, we produced returns on common shareholder equity in the high teens over many periods, including the past 20 years. We've also returned 70% of net income in the form of dividends or share repurchases.”

Outlook & Earnings Trends

Now that we have covered some of Progressive’s business and why it is a solid stock for income investors, it’s time to see what to expect from the company going forward. Our current Zacks Consensus Estimate calls for the company’s Q1 fiscal 2019 revenue to jump 18.5% from the year-ago period to reach $8.86 billion.

For the full year, Progressive is projected to see its revenue surge 16% to hit $37.55 billion. Peeking even further ahead, the company’s top-line is expected to climb roughly 11% above our current-year estimate in fiscal 2020.

At the bottom end of the income statement, Progressive also seems ready to post double-digit year over year growth. PGR’s adjusted current quarter EPS figure is projected to jump nearly 15% to reach $1.40 a share. Meanwhile, the company is expected to post similar growth for its adjusted full-year earnings, and its 2020 figure is projected to climb roughly 8% above 2019’s estimate.

Investors should also note that Progressive’s earnings estimate revision activity has trended upward recently. PGR’s 2019 and 2020 consensus earnings estimates have popped 5% over the last 90 days. This movement is important to monitor because it has been proven over the years that earnings growth leads to positive stock price movement over the long haul.

Bear of the Day:

Shares of Stamps.com plummeted roughly 50% last month after it announced that it would end its exclusive shipping partnership with the United States Postal Service. The internet-based shipping services company faces a more competitive environment than ever before and its 2019 estimates are heading in the wrong direction.   

Overview

Stamps.com was founded in 1996 as a way to help consumers mail everything from packages to letters more conveniently by printing shipping information, such as postage and shipping labels, from their own computers. Today the firm has become a go-to for many small businesses, home offices, and corporations. Stamps.com, which also offers shipping software, is coming off an impressive fourth quarter of 2018, when it saw its revenue soar 29% to reach $170.2 million.

Unfortunately for investors, Stamps.com executives said on the firm’s earnings call that it ended its exclusive shipping partnership with the United States Postal Service. The company tried to negotiate a new deal that would allow the firm to move beyond its exclusive relationship with the federally owned postal agency, but USPS declined. “So at this point, we've decided to discontinue our shipping partnership with the USPS so that we can fully embrace partnerships with other carriers who we think will be well positioned to win in the shipping business in the next five years,” CEO Ken McBride said on Stamps.com’s earnings call.

The company’s decision highlights Amazon’s increasing threat to the shipping industry as it expands its business. At the same time, FedEx (FDX), UPS, and others have introduced aggressively priced programs to try to target some of Stamps.com’s e-commerce customers.

With that said, the move should help the firm become more competitive in the long run in a more crowded industry. “When our customers are offered services such as shipping with Amazon, FedEx One Rate, UPS’s new products, regional carriers, Uber shipping, ship from store and everything else, we have to bring those solutions to our customers,” Stamps.com’s CEO explained.

Outlook & Earnings Trends

Looking ahead, the company’s USPS decision seems as though it might hurt its top and bottom-lines in the near-term. STMP’s first quarter fiscal 2019 revenue is projected to slip just under 5% to hit $126.97 million. Meanwhile, the company’s full-year revenues is expected to sink 5.7% to touch $553.24 million.

Stamps.com’s 2019 outlook appears much worse at the bottom end of the income statement. STMP’s adjusted Q1 earnings are projected to tumble 67% to $0.70 a share. The company’s second-quarter 2019 earnings are expected to fall over 64%, with full-year earnings projected to dive roughly 60%.

Furthermore, we can see just how much all of the company’s consensus earnings estimates have fallen recently. For example, Stamps.com’s 2019 earnings estimate plummeted 57% from $9.36 a share 30 days ago, to its current $3.95 a share.

Additional content:

Nike’s Q3 Earnings Preview: North America, China & More

Shares of Nike have jumped 15% this year to outpace the S&P 500. The sportswear giant is also currently a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and its Q3 fiscal 2019 financial results are due out on March 21. This means it is time to see what to expect from Nike’s quarterly earnings, revenue, and key business units, including China.

Quick Overview

Nike has been able to return to growth in the vital North American market on the back of digital expansion and a larger direct-to-consumer push. The Oregon-headquartered firm has rolled out multiple shopping-focused apps and its reach across quickly expanding Instagram destroys its competition. The company has also remained a mainstay in professional sports in the U.S.—it is the official sponsor of the NFL, NBA, and soon MLB—as well as international soccer, and much more.

Meanwhile, and maybe just as importantly these days, Nike has cultivated its off the court styles to help it transcend into a fashion brand like never before. The company’s growth in the athleisure market has also helped. And investors should note that Nike CEO Mark Parker has remained committed to a more strategic wholesale business, which includes working with a variety of specialty retailers.

Outlook

Nike’s third-quarter fiscal 2019 revenue is projected to jump 5.7% to reach $9.50 billion, based on our current Zacks Consensus Estimate. This would mark a slowdown from Q2’s 10% top-line expansion. Meanwhile, NKE’s full-year fiscal 2019 revenue is expected to pop 7.5% to reach $39.12 billion.

More specifically, our NFM estimates call for Nike’s footwear sales to jump 6.6% to reach $5.97 billion. On top of that, the company’s key North American revenue is projected to climb from $3.57 billion in the year-ago period to reach $3.87 billion. This would mark an 8% jump and nearly match last quarter’s growth. We should note, however, that this is compared to Q3 2018 when North American sales slipped 6%.

Moving on, Nike’s revenue in Greater China is projected to surge 15% from $1.34 billion in Q3 fiscal 2018 to reach $1.54 billion. This would mark the 19th consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth in China. But last quarter, Nike saw its sales in the region soar 26%, which means the company might be set to feel the impact of a slowing Chinese economy that has hurt the likes of Apple and others.

At the bottom end of the income statement, Nike’s adjusted fiscal Q3 earnings are projected to dip 7.7% to touch $0.63 per share. Despite this excepted decline, the company has seen some positive earnings estimate revision activity recently and its full-year EPS figure is expected to climb 8.6%.

Bottom Line

Another important unit to pay close attention to is Nike’s quickly growing digital business. Unfortunately, our NFM file does have estimates for this division because Nike doesn’t currently break them down. Instead, the sportswear powerhouse reports simple growth percentages as the industry as a whole continues its e-commerce push.

Last quarter, Nike’s digital revenues surged 41%, with mobile accounting for over 50% of its digital commerce revenue. Looking ahead, Nike CFO Andy Campion expects that its digital division will make up 30% of Nike’s total business by 2023, compared to roughly 15% in the second quarter.

NKE stock hovered at roughly $85.15 a share in late-afternoon trading Thursday.

This represented a 3% downturn from its 52-week high of $87.99 per share. Nike is currently scheduled to report its third-quarter fiscal 2019 financial results after the closing bell on Thursday, March 21.

Make sure to come back to Zacks for a full breakdown of Nike’s actual quarterly metrics then.

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