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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AT&T, Apple, , Verizon, ,BlackBerry and BOFI Holding

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – September 16, 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 the AT&T, Inc. (T-Free Report), Apple Inc.’s (AAPL-Free Report), BlackBerry Ltd’s (BBRY-Free Report), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ-Free Report) and BOFI Holding Inc. (Nasdaq
:BOFI-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:

AT&T to Offer iPhone 5S and 5C
AT&T, Inc. (T-Free Report) plans to offer Apple Inc.’s (AAPL-Free Report) latest additions – iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Customers can avail these smartphones at AT&T stores beginning Sep 20.

The company will be offering iPhone 5S at low monthly installments with a price tag of $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model. In addition, iPhone 5C will be offered at $99 and $199 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. We believe AT&T’s latest iPhone offering not only supports increased market traction but also backs the growing popularity of its LTE services.

Apart from iPhones, AT&T rolled out BlackBerry Ltd’s (BBRY-Free Report) BlackBerry Z10 this year, with the aim of adding customers. In its second quarter, the company experienced a surge in its wireless business, in particular the post-paid segment, following promotional strategies that it had undertaken.

These initiatives resulted in increased smartphone upgrades along with sales. AT&T is now primarily focused on adding devices that mostly support 4G LTE to its equipment portfolio. This is because the company has accelerated its 4G Long-Term Evolution (:LTE) and remains ahead of schedule.

The company boasts the best Internet speeds in the industry as it is the only U.S. carrier that provides 4G networks through both Long Term Evolution (:LTE) and High-Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) technologies. AT&T’s LTE networks serve as the benchmark of mobile technology and the life-blood for operators across the world.

The LTE expansion is also supported by Project Velocity. Under this project, AT&T will invest $14 billion in the coming three years to considerably expand the wireless (investment of $8 billion) and wireline (investment of $6 billion) Internet Protocol (IP) broadband networks.

The company targets to extend the wireline IP network to nearly 57 million customer locations (including both customers and small businesses) – covering 75% of AT&T’s wireline service area – by the end of 2015. This project underlines the company’s efforts to meet the growing demand for high-speed Internet.

We believe that this investment program will provide AT&T with a high-potential growth platform, leading to higher revenues and improved earnings per share over the near term. Further, it also provides with a competitive position against rivals like Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ-Free Report).

AT&T currently has Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

BofI Upped to Strong Buy
On Sep 13, 2013, Zacks Investment Research upgraded BOFI Holding Inc. (Nasdaq:BOFI-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?

BOFI has been experiencing rising earnings estimates on the back of improved fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 results. Moreover, improved deposit mix and loan portfolio as well as expanded lending business have been impressive.

Additionally, this national bank delivered positive earnings surprise in all the 4 quarters of fiscal 2013, with an average beat of 4.66%. BOFI also outperformed the year-to-date Nasdaq index, which posed a 25.5% increase against a robust return of 134.9% for the company.

On Aug 7, Eastern Insurance reported fourth-quarter 2013 operating earnings per share of 78 cents, which outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents and the year-ago quarter number by 21.9%.

Lower interest expense and provision of loan losses led to 29.6% year over year growth in net interest income, whereas non-interest income surged 59% despite higher non-interest expense. BOFI’s assets and loan quality also remained strong, whereas both loan portfolio and deposits witnessed growth of about 30% each.

Additionally, capital ratios remained sturdy with Tier 1 risk-based capital of 14.52% at the end of fiscal 2013 against 13.69% in the prior year period. Even book value per share increased 21.12% year over year to $19.16.

Further, the acquisition of $200 million worth of deposits from Principal Bank is further expected to boost BOFI’s clientele and overall online banking business, which is rapidly gaining traction due to convenience and security of the consumers. Internet banking also makes the bank’s operations less capital intensive.

Riding on a strong core fundamental growth trend, BOFI’s well-diversified business model is resilient enough to cater to the changing market demands. Alongside strong capitalization, a healthy balance sheet and consistent record earnings growth scores well in retaining investor confidence.

Based on BOFI’s fundamental strength and capital management, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2014 rose 8% to $3.65 per share in the last 30 days. Meanwhile, no downward revision in estimates was witnessed for the year.

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

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