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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Apple, Google, LinkedIn and Valspar

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – August 5, 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 Facebook Inc (FB-Free Report), Apple (AAPL-Free Report), Google (GOOG-Free Report), LinkedIn (LNKD-Free Report) and Valspar Corp. (VAL-Free Report).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Facebook Crosses IPO Price to 52-Week High

Shares of Facebook Inc (FB-Free Report) reached a new 52-week high of $38.31 on Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013. Most significantly, for the first time since its Initial Public Offering (“IPO”), Facebook succeeded in crossing the psychological barrier of $38.00, the high end of its IPO price range.

Facebook’s IPO on May, 18, 2012 was spoiled by mismanagement and technical glitches that cost stock brokers and investors millions of dollars. Although the stock debuted at $42.05, it closed the IPO day with a gain of only 23 cents.

Facebook’s sky-high valuation, unproven monetization efforts on the mobile platform and a slow advertising growth rate were blamed for the modest gain. Following the debacle, the company’s share price plunged to a 52-week low of $17.55 on Sep 4, 2012.

However, the company’s focus on improving mobile exposure helped the shares rebound over the next 5 quarters. Facebook shares have surged 87.1% compared with 25.0% increase for the S&P 500 over the last 12 months.

Moreover, the impressive second quarter results further helped Facebook to reach its 52-week high. The bullish run has been primarily driven by increasing mobile offerings, which boost customer engagement. The launch of the mobile App center for Apple’s (AAPL
-Free Report) iOS and Google’s (GOOG-Free Report) Android-based devices helped Facebook to expand customer base quickly.

To boost customer engagement in mobile, Facebook launched Twitter-like hashtags (#), Facebook Home and Instagram’s video application. The company has also launched a number of new products to woo advertisers.

These offerings have significantly improved its customer base, which attracted advertisers. At the end of the second quarter of 2013, monthly mobile active users (MAUs) were 819 million, up 51.0% from the year-ago quarter. The "Facebook for Every Phone" initiative recorded more than 100 million active users.

More importantly, mobile ad revenues contributed 41% of total ad revenues. We believe that this is a significant achievement for Facebook within a very short span of time. Facebook did not report any mobile revenues at the time of its IPO.

We believe that Facebook’s massive mobile user base represents a tremendous growth potential. We also expect the company to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions that will help it to further monetize this huge user base.

Moreover, the upcoming new products such as the Reader and television-like spot offerings for advertisers (reportedly for $2.5 million a day) are expected to drive top-line growth going forward. Additionally, improving customer engagement will help it to aggressively compete in the ad market against the likes of Google and LinkedIn (LNKD
-Free Report).

Currently, Facebook has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Valspar Wraps Up Inver Buy

Valspar Corp. (VAL-Free Report) has closed its takeover of Italy-based industrial coatings maker Inver Holding S.r.l. Financial terms of the transaction were not divulged. The buyout enables Valspar to bolster its European coatings business.

Inver, which had sales of roughly $200 million last year, makes liquid and powder coatings products and resins that are used in an array of industrial applications including off-road equipment, auto, architectural aluminum windows and railways. The entity primarily serves customers in the UK, France, Germany and Poland.

The acquisition is in sync with Valspar’s growth strategy for its industrial coatings business and is expected to reinforce its position in the $6 billion European industrial coatings market and offer operational synergies. Valspar will leverage Inver’s strong product portfolio, leading technology and distribution network to better serve its customers in Europe.

Valspar has a strong pipeline of new products and significant opportunities for share gains in both its Paints and Coatings segments. The company is managing its cost well and maintaining a cost structure that is appropriate for the current external environment. Valspar should also benefit from its restructuring actions in fiscal 2013.

Winning new businesses also remains a company-wide focus that will position Valspar well for the future. The company remains committed to make prudent investments in world's largest industrial markets such as China, Europe and Latin America to incite growth. Valspar expects to gain from new businesses in consumer paints, packaging, coil and wood coatings in second-half fiscal 2013.

Valspar currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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