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Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Big 5 Sporting Goods, Polypore International, Exxon Mobil, Range Resources and NGL Energy Partners

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 8, 2013 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (BGFV) as the Bull of the Day and Polypore International, Inc. (PPO) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), Range Resources Corporation (RRC) and NGL Energy Partners LP (NGL).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (BGFV) recently delivered its third consecutive positive earnings surprise on the back of its largest same-store sales increase in over 10 years. Despite a relatively modest earnings beat, analysts revised their estimates significantly higher for both 2013 and 2014, sending the stock to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

The company also announced a 33% increase in its quarterly dividend. It now yields a solid 2.6%. And valuation looks reasonable too with shares trading below the industry median.

Big 5 is a sporting goods retailer in the western United States with 414 stores in 12 states. It operates under the "Big 5 Sporting Goods" name. The company was founded in 1955 and is headquartered in El Segundo , California . It has a market cap of $334 million.

Big 5 delivered better than expected fourth quarter results on February 26. Earnings per share came in at 19 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. It was the company's third straight positive earnings surprise.

 Bear of the Day:

Polypore International, Inc. (PPO) reported its third consecutive earnings miss on February 20, driven by a 6% decline in sales. This prompted analysts to revise their estimates for both 2013 and 2014 significantly lower, sending the stock to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Despite the negative earnings momentum, shares still trade at a premium on a forward price-to-earnings and price-to-book basis. This doesn't bode well for shares over the next several weeks.

Polypore International is a high technology filtration company that develops, manufactures and markets specialized polymer-based microporous membranes used in separation and filtration processes. Its products are used in two primary segments: energy storage (75% of total sales) and separations media (25%).

The company is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and has a market cap of $1.8 billion.

 Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Exxon Foresees Volume Growth

The U.S. energy behemoth Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) is likely to boost its output level in the next five years thanks to the major liquid rich project start-ups lined up during the period.

ExxonMobil expects its liquids production to increase 4% per year on average between 2013 and 2017. The company’s 28 major oil and gas project start-ups will facilitate it in achieving the target. Of the total, 24 are in liquids projects.

Specifically, 22 important ventures are expected to commence production over the next three years. Expansion of the Kearl oil sands project in Alberta , Canada , and a liquefied natural gas export project in Papua New Guinea are among them. The company also remains upbeat on its progress related to its downstream operations. ExxonMobil is making improvements in its new facilities in Singapore , China and Finland to tap the Chinese as well as Russian markets.

ExxonMobil expects these start-ups to deliver 1 million oil-equivalent barrels over the next five years. It also aims to expend about $190 billion over the next five years, or $38 billion per year, in search of new resources to meet the growing energy demand.

Last year, ExxonMobil’s production fell 6%. We see the company as struggling to consistently grow production volumes. In fact, the last six quarters saw production declines. For this year, the company expects production to decline 1% due to weaker natural gas output. Then, the oil and gas giant expects its annual production to climb 2% to 3% per year through 2017.

While its 2010 purchase of XTO Energy Inc. is expected to be a positive move over the longer term, we are yet to see any material benefit, given the continued weak natural gas prices. The deal positioned ExxonMobil as the largest natural-gas producer in the U.S. With natural gas accounting for almost half of ExxonMobil’s fourth quarter 2012 production, we remain cautious due to the tempered outlook on natural gas prices for the future.

Now, with most of the new ventures tilted towards liquid rather than gas, ExxonMobil is expected to generate meaningful production in the next five years and beyond. Natural gas percentage in total production dropped from approximately 51% in the first quarter of 2012 to almost 49% in the fourth quarter. Again, it added 1.8 billion oil-equivalent barrels in proven reserves in 2012, 78% of which comprised petroleum and the remaining was liquids. This proves ExxonMobil’s endeavor in oil exploration at the cost of less lucrative natural gas business.

ExxonMobil holds a Zacks Rank #3, which is equivalent to a short-term Hold rating. However, there are other stocks in the oil and gas sector that are expected to perform better. These include Range Resources Corporation (RRC) and NGL Energy Partners LP (NGL), which carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).


Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

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