U.S. Markets closed

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Oracle, Colgate-Palmolive, Meredith, Family Dollar Stores and McGraw Hill Financial

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – March 18, 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 Oracle Corp (ORCL-Free Report), Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL-Free Report), Meredith Corp. (MDP-Free Report), Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO-Free Report) and McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. (MHFI-Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Is Oracle (ORCL) Poised to Beat Earnings?
We expect application software provider Oracle Corp (ORCL-Free Report) to beat expectations when it reports fiscal third quarter 2014 results on Mar 18. Last quarter, it posted a 3.13% positive surprise. The company has posted an average positive earnings surprise of 2.41% over the past four quarters.  Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.
Why a Likely Positive Surprise?
Our proven model shows that Oracle is likely to beat earnings because it has the right combination of two key ingredients.
Positive Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP or expected surprise prediction, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is at +1.49%. This is very meaningful and a leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise for shares.
Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Note that stocks with Zacks Ranks #1, #2 and #3 have a significantly higher chance of beating earnings. The Sell-rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement.  
The combination of Oracle’s Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and +1.49% ESP makes us very confident in looking for a positive earnings beat on Mar 18, 2014.
What's Driving the Better Than Expected Earnings?
Oracle’s encouraging second-quarter results came as relief to investors as it proved that management’s turnaround initiatives were working.
Although government IT spending is expected to remain muted, improving macroeconomic environment in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa is expected to boost enterprise spending in the remainder of fiscal 2014. This will also boost Oracle’s top-line growth, going forward.
Moreover, the acquisition of the industry’s leading cloud-based big data platform, Bluekai will stimulate growth going forward by providing greater customer satisfaction. It will now be able to provide customers with the ability to build the richest user profiles combining information from first party and third party sources including media, advertising, social, and mobile sources.
Additionally, higher subscription revenues are expected to provide a recurring high margin revenue base, going forward. Additionally, improvement in sales force hiring will continue to boost bookings. However, this may hurt margins in the near term.
Colgate Rewards Shareholders Again
Driven by its strong positive outlook, the global consumer products manufacturer, Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL-Free Report) has raised its quarterly cash dividend, effective from the second quarter of fiscal 2014.
The company has hiked its quarterly dividend by approximately 6% to 36 cents per share from the prior payout of 34 cents. This comes to a yearly dividend of $1.44 per share, reflecting a dividend yield of nearly 2.3% based on Thursday's closing price of $63.23. The new dividend will be paid on May 15 to shareholders of record on Apr 22.
Colgate-Palmolive has a history of paying regular quarterly dividends since 1895, which clearly reflects its strong fundamentals. Since then, the company has paid dividends every quarter, even amid economic crises like the Great Depression of the 1930s, stagflation in the 1970s and the recession of 2008. Apart from paying regular dividends, the company has been focused on increasing its dividend rate every year for about 50 years now.
The strength of Colgate-Palmolive’s business model is reflected in its strong cash generation capabilities and commitment to return value to shareholders. The company’s strong balance sheet and cash flows provide it financial flexibility to make shareholder-friendly moves, R&D investments and expand business worldwide.
During 2013, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $1,382 million on cash dividends and $1,521 million toward share repurchases. Cash and cash equivalents stood at $962 million at the end of the fiscal while cash from operational activities was $3,204 million. We remain encouraged by the company’s strong cash position and its ability to service long-term debts.
Other companies that recently increased quarterly dividend include Meredith Corp. (MDP-Free Report) and Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO-Free Report). These two companies raised their dividends by 6.1% to 43.25 cents and 19.2% to 31 cents, respectively. McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. (MHFI-Free Report) also recently hiked its payout by 7.1% to 30 cents.
We believe that dividend hikes not only enhance shareholders’ return but raise the market value of the stock as well. Through these dividend rises, companies persuade investors to either buy or hold the scrip instead of selling it. Looking ahead, Colgate-Palmolive remains confident of its growth potential, suggesting that further enhancement of shareholders’ value through dividend payouts and share buybacks could take place.
Currently, Colgate-Palmolive has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today.

About Zacks

Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros.  In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros.
Get the full Report on ORCL - FREE
Get the full Report on CL - FREE
Get the full Report on MDP - FREE
Get the full Report on FDO - FREE
Get the full Report on MHFI - FREE
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.
Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Read the analyst report on ORCL

Read the analyst report on CL

Read the analyst report on MDP

Read the analyst report on FDO

Read the analyst report on MHFI

Zacks Investment Research