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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Monster Beverage, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Ford Motor and Toyota Motor

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – August 15, 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 Monster Beverage (MNST--Free Report), PepsiCo, Inc (PEP--Free Report), The Coca Cola Company (KO--Free Report), Ford Motor Co. (F--Free Report) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TM--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:

Monster Misses Q2 Earnings Estimates; Revs

Monster Beverage’s (MNST--Free Report) second quarter 2013 adjusted earnings of 62 cents per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of earnings by 3%. However, earnings increased 4.6% year over year due to a mid-single digit increase in top line.

During the quarter, Monster Beverage’s net sales rose 6.5% year over year to $630.9 million. However, net sales also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $643 million by 1.0% due to soft sales in its energy drinks, particularly the Monster Energy brand. Monster Beverage like other beverage giants, PepsiCo, Inc (PEP--Free Report) and The Coca Cola Company (KO--Free Report) are seeing sluggish sales due to changing consumer preferences and increasing health consciousness.

Gross profit increased 9.0% in the quarter to $336.3 million. Gross margin grew 150 basis points to 53.3% on the back of a favorable mix. A significant percentage of sales were from high margin brands like Ultra Zero, Ultra Blue and Rehab Pink Lemonade.

Operating income rose 5.7% to $179.4 million in the quarter. Operating margin declined 20 basis points in the quarter, due to increase in litigation expenses and unfavorable foreign transactions.

Monster Beverage had cash and cash equivalents of $283.8 million as of Jun 30, 2013, compared to $222.5 million as of Dec 31, 2012. The board of directors authorized a new share repurchase program worth $200 million of outstanding common stock in the quarter.  

Monster Beverage carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Ford's Focus Tops Global Sales in Q1

Ford Motor Co. (F--Free Report) announced that its compact car Focus continued to remain the top selling brand in the first quarter of 2013, retaining the crown it received in 2012. Quoting global vehicle registration data from Polk, the car maker revealed that the global retail registrations of Focus surged 18% year over year in the first quarter of 2013. The data for the second quarter was not provided by the company.

As per Ford, Focus recorded 288,724 new registrations in the first quarter of 2013, buoyed by the demand in China and Brazil. China alone contributed about 36% of the registrations, recording a 153% increase over the first quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, Brazil witnessed an 18% increase in Focus registrations.

The increasing demand has led Ford to increase its Focus manufacturing capacity to 2 cars per minute, which implies 1.5 million Focus vehicles per annum. To achieve this, the company started manufacturing Focus in its plant in Pacheco, Argentina. This takes the tally of global Focus manufacturing facilities to 9, including the plants in the United States, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Russia and Germany.

However, the data provided by Ford does not consider the derivative cars of rival Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TM--Free Report) Corolla, such as Matrix, Auris (sold in Europe) and Verso (sold in Japan). Toyota claims that this omission has reduced the registration of Corolla by 300,000 in 2012. After including the registrations of Auris and Verso, Corolla manages to snatch the crown of the best-selling brand in 2012 from Ford’s Focus.

Moreover, Toyota is set to launch a new version of Corolla next month. The new version has improved styling, aimed at beating Ford, which currently has more stylish products.

Ford 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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