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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Nokia and Nucor

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – August 07, 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 Apple (AAPL-Free Report), Amazon (AMZN-Free Report), Microsoft (MSFT-Free Report), Nokia (NOK-Free Report) and Nucor Corporation (NUE-Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Samsung Dethroned as China’s Top Smartphone Vendor
Samsung’s dominance in the Chinese mobile phone market was shaken by Xiaomi. Reportedly, Samsung, the top smartphone vendor for a significant part of the past two years, was dethroned by Xiaomi, a Chinese handset maker, in the April to June period. Per Canalys, a market research company, Xiaomi sold 15 million smartphones compared with Samsung’s 13.2 million during the period.
A detailed study revealed that Xiaomi had 14% market share with shipments up more than threefold year over year, while Samsung market share shrank to 12% with shipments down from 15.5 million recorded in the year-ago period.
Notably, Xiaomi is also climbing the ranks pretty fast in the global smartphone market. The company, by virtue of its strong sales in China , has become the fifth largest smartphone vendor beating LG, per Strategy Analytics’ second-quarter 2014 reports.
While Samsung and Apple (AAPL-Free Report) retain the number 1 and 2 positions in the global smartphone market with a respective 25.2% and 11.9% market share, Chinese manufacturers have captured the next three positions. Up front is Huawei with 6.8% market share followed by Lenovo with 5.4% and then Xiaomi, which has jumped from nowhere to take 5.1%. It is worth mentioning that while the top two vendors witnessed year-over-year market share decline, all the Chinese vendors saw increases.  
To be globally successful, Xiaomi will have to expand its presence in international markets including India , Brazil and Russia . It is already working toward this goal, with its Mi3, receiving overwhelming response in India . The company sells its products through e-Commerce site Flipkart in India where it is reported to have sold 1 million phones. The company expects to launch Redmi 1S and Redmi Note product lines in the coming months.

The Chinese handset maker’s positive response in India further adds to Samsung’s woes as Micromax Informatics Ltd., an Indian handset maker, replaced it as the largest mobile phone supplier in India in second-quarter 2014, per market research and consulting firm CounterPoint Research.
Samsung is being challenged by local handset makers offering innovative products at competitive prices in the emerging markets of China and India . Moreover, with Amazon’s (AMZN-Free Report) entry into the smartphone market and Microsoft (MSFT-Free Report) acquiring Nokia’s (NOK-Free Report) handset business global competition has intensified for Samsung.
Currently, Apple, Microsoft and Nokia have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), while Amazon has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
Nucor’s Strategy Shows Potential in Tough Market
On Aug 1, we issued an updated research report on steel maker Nucor Corporation (NUE-Free Report). While the company’s strategic investments in a slew of projects coupled with its efforts to expand capacity should support results moving ahead, challenging steel market fundamentals continue to weigh on its prospects.
Nucor, on Jul 24, posted healthy second-quarter 2014 results. Both revenues and earnings for the quarter topped Zacks Consensus Estimates. Profit was driven by improved performance of the company’s steel mills business.
Nucor expects improved earnings on a sequential basis in the third quarter. The company anticipates higher operating profits in its downstream products businesses in the quarter.
Nucor is progressing well with its key projects that are expected to boost its earnings power over the long-term. The Louisiana direct reduced iron (DRI) facility, its largest project, came online in Dec 2013. The $750 million plant is expected to produce 2.5 million tons of DRI annually when the operations are in full swing.
In addition, the Nucor-Yamato structural mill recently completed a roughly $115 million project, offering expanded sheet piling production capabilities. Nucor is also aggressively investing to secure a low-cost supply of natural gas on a long-term basis to cover its expected future steelmaking and DRI production needs. Expanded DRI capacity combined with the company’s natural gas investments will enable it to grow in sheet and SBQ (special bar quality) markets.
Moreover, Nucor is seeing strength across end markets such as automotive, energy, heavy equipment and general manufacturing. Demand across these end-markets is healthy, lending support to the company’s top line.

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