For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – August 1, 2012 – 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 Kraft Foods Inc. (MDLZ), Cerner Corporation (CERN), Athenahealth (ATHN), Allscripts-Healthcare solutions,Inc. (MDRX) and Quality Systems (QSII).
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Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:
Earnings Preview: Kraft Foods
Food and beverage giant Kraft Foods Inc. (MDLZ) is all set to unveil its second quarter 2012 results on August 2, 2012, after the market closes. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second quarter is 67 cents (estimated year-over-year improvement of 8.1%) on revenues of $14.1 billion (year-over-year increase of 6.7%).
First Quarter Recap
Kraft Foods started the year on a strong note with adjusted earnings of 57 cents per share exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a cent and the prior-year quarter earnings by 5 cents per share.
Solid top-line growth and effective cost management boosted earnings in the quarter. Revenues in the quarter rose 4.1% to $13.1 billion, in line with the Zacks Consensus Revenue Estimate. Organic revenues were up 6.5% driven mainly by pricing gain. New product launches and impressive growth of Power Brands also added to the top-line increase.
Adjusted operating income surged 5.8% to $1.85 billion in the quarter, driven by effective cost management and volume/mix gains, which offset the negative impact from increased input cost and advertising spend. Kraft reaffirmed its previously provided constant currency revenue and earnings guidance.
Kraft Foods is in the process of separating into two independent public companies: a global snacks company and a North American grocery company.
Global snacks will consist of the current Kraft Foods Europe and Developing Markets units as well as the North American snacks and confectionery businesses. The North American grocery business would consist of the current US Beverages, Cheese, Convenient Meals and Grocery segments and the non-snack categories in Canada and Food Service. The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of 2012.
The North American grocery business, which includes popular brands like Oscar Mayer meat and Kraft cheese, will be an independent public company called Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and will trade under the ticker symbol KRFT. The snacks company to be called Mondelez International, Inc. will market popular brands like Cadbury, Jacobs, LU, Milka, Nabisco, Oreo, Tang and Trident and will trade under the ticker symbol MDLZ.
Agreement of Estimate Revisions
Over the past 30 days, only 1 of the 14 estimates on Kraft Foods has been downwardly revised for the second quarter of 2012. For fiscal 2012, 3 of the 15 estimates have been revised downwards. None of the estimates have moved in the opposite direction in the last 30 days. There have been no estimate revisions over the last 7 days.
The first quarter results benefited from shift of Easter-related shipments into the first quarter. The absence of this tailwind this quarter partly explains the downward pressure on earnings.
Magnitude of Estimate Revisions
Given the limited number of estimate revisions, the consensus estimate for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 has remained static over the last 7 as well as 30 days at 67 cents. The consensus estimate for fiscal 2012 has gone down by a cent from $2.51 to $2.50 over the last 30 days.
Kraft Foods has surpassed earnings estimates in three of the past four quarters, recording a maximum positive surprise of 6.90% in the second quarter of 2011. On average, the earnings surprise was a positive 4.09%.
We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Kraft Foods. The stock carries a Zacks #4 Rank (a short-term Sell rating).
We are encouraged by Kraft Foods’ diverse brand portfolio, significant exposure to the fast growing emerging markets and continued strong momentum from the core brands (Power Brands). Further, Kraft Foods has been delivering much better sales and profit performance in Europe despite the region’s economic challenges and unlike most peers.
Moreover, the split of its North American business is expected to allow Kraft to focus on its distinct strategic priorities and allocate resources optimally. However, we remain concerned about rising input costs and a slow economic recovery.
Cerner Inks Deal with CAMH, Canada
Leading healthcare information technology (“HCIT”) solutions provider, Cerner Corporation (CERN) recently reported that it inked an agreement with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (“CAMH”) of Canada to automate clinical data processes. CAMH will utilize Cerner’s Millennium architecture, a composite computing setup in health IT services.
CAMH is a renowned research center for addiction and mental health. It is Canada’s biggest mental health and teaching hospital. CAMH is affiliated with the University of Toronto.
Cerner’s offerings will automate clinical flows at CAMH. Its solutions will provide quick access to clinical data via an electronic health record (“EHR”). In addition, Cerner’s products will provide benefits such as cutting down on potential for errors and providing an EHR for all patients.
Cerner remains the trend setter among pure-play, publicly traded healthcare IT (:HCIT) vendors. We believe Cerner is one of the better-placed clinical technology vendors to benefit from high HCIT spending over the next few years. The company is diversified not only on a global basis but serves both hospitals and ambulatory outfits. Its integrated solutions have captured market share.
We believe long-term investors may consider Cerner, which serves a sizeable installed inpatient base that requires composite clinically-focused applications in compliance with “meaningful use” parameters, reimbursement challenges and complicated coding problems. The company has long-standing, integrated and seamless solutions for both inpatient and ambulatory settings.
On the negative side, the federal Stimulus program will gradually wind down. Cerner faces stiff competition from established HCIT players, such as Athenahealth (ATHN), Allscripts-Healthcare solutions,Inc. (MDRX) and Quality Systems (QSII) and many others in a crowded field. The company is developing multiple growth drivers which will ensure its future growth.
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