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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AT&T, Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook

Zacks Equity Research
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AT&T, Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 8, 2019 – 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: AT&T Inc. T, Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN, Apple Inc. AAPL, Microsoft Corp. MSFT and Facebook, Inc. FB.

Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:

Winning Stocks as “GoT” Takes the TV World By Storm

HBO’s drama, Game of Thrones, is now in its eighth and final session. The captivating TV series is all over encore telecasts, DVR playback, on-demand, HBO Go and HBO Now. 

The final series, consisting of six episodes, premiered on Apr 14 and is expected to wrap up on May 19. The finale, no doubt, is the most talked about since Breaking Bad in September 2013. And it surely should outshine the series finale of The Big Bang Theory on May 16 on CBS. Lest we forget, CBS currently has twice the distribution of HBO.

The medieval-fantasy TV series is based on a well-liked book series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, and is likely to lure viewers as long as the creators continue to produce enthralling plots and don’t deviate far from the book. Talking about the level of interest, let’s take a look at why the fantasy series continued to gain popularity — 

Game of Thrones Rides High

When Game of Thrones debuted in 2011, it garnered an average of 9.3 million audiences. And in the seventh season, the average viewership went up to 32.8 million. Very few series have increased viewership every season, with AMC’s Breaking Bad, aired between 2008 and 2013, being an exception.

So, what are the reasons for Game of Thrones’ success? First of all, let’s admit it has a fantastic content line-up, and is undoubtedly a quality show. Otherwise, why would this series be nominated for a whopping 132 Emmy Awards and eventually win 47, way more than any other drama series. The much-liked series has already won the Emmy Award for Best Drama three times.

The series, by the way, is readily available. And that increases the viewership. While nearly 10.3 million watch Game of Thrones on HBO, around 22.5 million watch the show on streaming sites. Game of Thrones also has limited episodes compared to other series. Thus, it becomes easier for those who haven’t seen the earlier episodes to catch up while it was on pause, and help boost viewer count.  Game of Thrones is expected to air only 73 episodes over the eight seasons, compared to Big Bang Theory’s 72 episodes in the past three-year period alone.

Last but not the least, for the final season, HBO said that the drama will be seen in at least 207 countries and territories, which is expected to generate over one billion viewers across the globe.

Stocks to Gain From the GoT Rage

As Cersei said that “when you play the 'Game of Thrones,' you either win or you die. There is no middle ground.” Similarly, let us look at stocks that can only win, thanks to this much-sorted TV series.

Of course, first in the list would be AT&T Inc., the parent company of Home Box Office, or HBO. Game of Thrones’ success will surely boost AT&T’s bottom line. After all, the drama series is the most tweeted TV show ever and is breaking record ratings for HBO popular. 

But, John Stankey, an AT&T executive did say that “Game of Thrones is kind of a ‘once-in-a-decade’ or ‘once-in-a-two-decade’ kind of moment. The goal is to have a collection of content that keeps the customer permanently engaged.” 

And that’s exactly what’s happening. HBO’s other innovative original television series, including Sex in the City, The Sopranos and Wired, to name a few are also helping its stock gain traction. The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company has seen its shares gaining 7.2% so far this year, more than the Wireless National industry’s rise of 5.5%.

AT&T, separately, is poised to gain from the imminent 5G boom and extended LTE coverage. Thus, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings has increased 0.3% over the past 60 days.

For the moment, Amazon.com, Inc., the Seattle-based online retailer, offers an array of products including free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. And it’s this Amazon Prime that offers content such as Game of Thrones. In fact, they offered the first two seasons at no extra charge.

Amazon has already reported a huge earnings beat in the first quarter and its revenues matched expectations. Amazon has been one of the best-performing tech stocks so far this year and has outperformed the broader Internet - Commerce industry over the past year (+22.5% vs. +2.4%). 

The Zacks Rank #3 company is, currently, among the top three most valuable companies in the world. The other two are Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp.. Nonetheless, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Amazon’s current-year earnings has advanced 0.6% over the past 60 days.

HBO, in the meantime, has used social media to publicize Game of Thrones and, of course Facebook, Inc. gained immensely by spreading the word that “Winter is Coming.” Facebook’s official HBO Game of Throne page saw more than 5 million “likes.” In fact, Game of Thrones helped Facebook live up to its true purpose. It helped people share similar interests and engage with one another.

Facebook, currently, has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), while the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-quarter earnings has risen 9.1% over the past 60 days. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

While shares of the online social media and social networking service company have gained 8.3% over the past year, the broader Internet - Services industry more or less remained flat.

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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 https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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