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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Yahoo!, Facebook, Google and Microsoft

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 30, 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 Apple (AAPL), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

ITC to Review Apple Case

Apple’s (AAPL) favorable preliminary ruling against Samsung at the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) is under review, reported Bloomberg.

In October, Judge Thomas Pender ruled that Samsung had infringed upon three out of the four patents that were brought forward by Apple. Apple had sought a ban on some of the Samsung products, such as the Nexus range of Smartphones and Galaxy tablets alleging that Samsung had infringed upon four patents held by them.

The ITC has now asked for additional reports related to the patents. The ITC has in its capacity to ban Samsung’s products in the U.S. if Apple’s claims are substantiated. The final ruling by ITC is scheduled for Aug 1.

The patent infringement case dates back to 2011 when Apple had alleged that Samsung had copied certain features such as interpreting user gestures, including selecting, scrolling, pinching and zooming. Apple also alleged that Samsung copied the designs of its devices, including the flat face of the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung countersued by alleging that Apple had violated a patent related to data transfer technology. This case will be decided on May 31.

Over the last couple of years, Apple has hardened its stance in protecting its intellectual property from misuse and violations. The company has been aggressive in filing lawsuits against handset makers, such as Samsung and HTC, and has accused these manufacturers of blatantly copying its iPhone and iPad designs. So far, these lawsuits have yielded mixed results for Apple.

Despite its efforts to curb competition, Apple’s market share in the smartphone market has dwindled from 23.0% in the first quarter of 2012 to 17.3% in the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC. During the same period, Samsung’s market share rose from 28.8% to 32.7%.

Yahoo Acquires PlayerScale

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) recently announced its acquisition of gaming infrastructure start-up PlayerScale for an undisclosed amount.

Belmont, Calif.-based PlayerScale was founded in 2009. It develops infrastructure software for various gaming platforms across the social and mobile space. PlayerScale has 100 million users with 4000 titles from over 2,600 developers worldwide.

Yahoo! is marching ahead with its plan to acquire struggling start-up companies. Some of its recent acquisitions include Astrid, a task-management app maker;Summly, a news-condenser app maker; Stamped, a mobile-review app maker; OnTheAir, which specializes in broadcasting video chats or interviews to online audiences; Snip.it, which is a kind of clipping service for the web; Propeld, a location-based apps maker; Jybe, a social recommendation site and Loki Studios, a mobile gaming start-up.

The acquisitions are part of a strategy to broaden and strengthen Yahoo!’s expertise in the mobile segment as adoption of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets continue to accelerate.

With these acquisitions, Yahoo is picking up a whole lot of engineering talent as well as key technologies and products at a cheaper rate. These acquisitions can help Yahoo! enter the social marketing segment, where its rivals have already established themselves.

The acquisition of these start-ups is a part of Yahoo’s strategy to strengthen its mobile offerings as it has lost its leadership position in display advertising to Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG). With search advertising revenues also declining not only because of Google but also Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo needs to focus on other major growth markets and emerging geographies.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2013, Yahoo generated revenues of $1.14 billion, which were down 15.3% sequentially and 6.6% year over year. Traffic acquisition cost (TAC) was down 42.3% sequentially and 49.9% year over year. Excluding these costs in all periods, net revenue was down 12.5% on a sequential basis and 0.8% from last year, short of the consensus estimate.

Yahoo has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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