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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Microsoft, Xilinx, ON and Aspen

Zacks Equity Research
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: UFP Technologies, Rent-A-Center, Bridgepoint Education, Unisys and Summer Infant

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL –September 13, 2018 – 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: Apple Inc AAPL, Microsoft Corp. MSFT, Xilinx, Inc. XLNX, ON Semiconductor Corp. ON and Aspen Technology, Inc. AZPN.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Apple Leads Rebound in Tech Shares: 5 Solid Buys

Political scandals and blistering criticism have been bogging down tech companies for a while now. But, Apple Inc’s reversal of a four-day losing streak ahead of its annual product launch boosted the overall sector. We also shouldn’t forget that tech stocks have been the strongest performers so far this year, with both computer and software makers, and chip-related companies making giant strides on tax reforms and fundamentals.

As Apple led a rebound in tech shares, investing in tech companies seems judicious. Also, tech companies are well positioned to register double-digit growth in the third-quarter earnings season.

Apple to Kick Off Product Launch

Shares of Apple gained the most in the last five weeks on heavier-than-expected volume as investors piled in on the eve of the company’s annual product launch. The Cupertino-based company’s shares rose 2.5% on Sep 11, raising the year-to-date gain to 32%. More than 35 million shares changed hands -- nearly 1.4 times the company’s three-month average.

Apple is about to launch three items, including iPhone Xs Line and Apple Watch Series 4. These models are likely to hike the company’s average smartphone price by 5.4% year over year to $793 in fiscal 2019, per investment giant Goldman Sachs. 

Optimism surrounding Apple pushed UBS Group AG’s Timothy Arcuri to lift his 12-month price target to $250, which will be a 12% rally from its current level. By the way, latest carrier checks showed a considerable reduction in store inventories for the iPhone. This is an extremely positive sign since iPhone continues to bring in the bulk of Apple’s revenues. It accounted for 56% of total revenues in the fiscal third quarter.

Apple First to Hit $1T

The company reported strong earnings results for the quarter ended Jun 30. It’s earnings per share grew 40% year over year and revenues increased 17%. Growth in products like Apple Watch, AirPods, Beats headphones and iPhones helped the company report stellar numbers. By the way, Apple’s guidance for the upcoming quarter is also above Wall Street predictions.

Thus, Apple became the first U.S. company with a market cap of more than $1 trillion (read more: Apple Hit $1 Trillion: Growth In Asia & China Key Going Forward).

Apple Powers Tech Gains

The iPhone maker lent momentum to the tech rally. In fact, the bellwether tech name led the broader tech rally. The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) jumped 0.9% on Sep 11, one of the top gainers among all the S&P 500 sectors.

Computer and software makers are already having a ball owing to the White House’s initiative to trim tax rates. The extra cash from tax cuts is helping tech companies pursue merger and acquisitions. The prospect of a cut in personal taxation is also a major driving force for tech firms. With more cash in hand, investors have room to invest.

High-end gaming, emergence of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and automation, in the meantime, are driving demand for chips. In any case, the overall tech sector is expected to notch double-digit gains in the third quarter (read more: Looking Ahead to Q3 Earnings Season).

And if this happens, it would be the fifth successive quarter that the Information Technology sector of the S&P 500 produced earnings growth of 20% or more.

5 Top Picks

Given the aforesaid bullishness, investors should double down on the hottest tech stocks. We have selected five such stocks that flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy).

Apple has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, 10 earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 2.6% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 32.9% and 27.5%, respectively.

Microsoft Corp. develops, licenses, and supports software, services, devices and solutions. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. In the last 60 days, 15 earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 7.3% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 14.3% and 9.5%, respectively.

Xilinx, Inc. designs and develops programmable devices and associated technologies. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. In the last 60 days, nine earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 4.5% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 18.5% and 6.4%, respectively. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

ON Semiconductor Corp. manufactures and sells semiconductor components for various electronic devices. The company has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, 10 earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 3.9% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 66.7% and 26%, respectively.

Aspen Technology, Inc. operates as an asset optimization software company. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. In the last 60 days, five earnings estimates moved north, while one moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 14.5% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 3.8% and 36.4%, respectively.

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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 https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.


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