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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Manulife and General Dynamics

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – July 13, 2017 – 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 Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT Free Report ), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT Free Report ), Home Depot (NYSE: HD Free Report ), Manulife (NYSE: MFC Free Report ) and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD Free Report ).

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

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Top Research Reports for Today: MSFT, WMT & HD

The Zacks Research Daily presents the best research output of our analyst team. Today's Research Daily features new research reports on 16 major stocks, including Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT Free Report ), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT Free Report ) and Home Depot (NYSE: HD Free Report ). These research reports have been hand-picked from the roughly 70 reports published by our analyst team today.

You can see all of today’s research reports here >>>

Buy rated Microsoft’s shares lagged the Zacks Tech sector through the fall, but have led the way over the last six months (up +11.7% versus +10.7%) on greater appreciation for the company's reorganization and repositioning. The Zacks analyst stresses that Microsoft is benefiting from continuing enterprise strength, strong Office 365 adoption and robust penetration of Azure (the company's cloud offering).

The recently launched Azure Stack service that allows customers to use Azure from their own servers is likely to provide Microsoft with a competitive edge over its peers. Further, the addition of LinkedIn has improved the company's presence in the social media market. All in all, the company has emerged as a leader in the cloud space that promises momentum on a number of fronts.

(You can read the full research report on Microsoft here >>> ) .

Shares of Buy rated Wal-Mart have been strong performers lately, with the stock up +9.4% over the last six months, outperforming the S&P 500's +6.8% gain in the same time period. The market's growing appreciation for the company's efforts to build e-commerce capabilities and strengthen the legacy business through improved and expanded product assortment, store cleanliness and an overall pleasant customer experience to drive traffic.

The positive comps for the last 11 quarters backed by higher traffic are some of the more tangible outcomes of these efforts. The company has been making steady investments in its business, both on the brick-and-mortar side as well as in the e-commerce platform.

These are necessary outlays for its long-term competitive positioning, but they nevertheless have bearing on near-term profitability. The stock's recent momentum and outperformance relative to others like Target suggest that market participants are willing to be patient with management's plans.

(You can read the full research report on Wal-Mart here >>> ) .

Buy rated Home Depot’s shares are up +11.5% over the last six months, outperforming the Zacks Retail sector (up +10.5%) and the broader market (S&P 500 up +6.8%) in that same time period. Improving customer experience, solid execution and consistent housing market recovery helped the company post an earnings surprise in first-quarter fiscal 2017, retaining the four-year long trend of beating earnings estimates.

The company’s relentless focus on offering innovative products, boosting interconnected customer experience and driving productivity seems to be paying off. Moreover, the company raised earnings guidance for fiscal 2017 while retaining its sales view. On the flip side, market participants can justifiably raise valuation concerns, particularly following the stock’s stellar recent performance.

(You can read the full research report on Home Depot here >>> ) .

Other noteworthy reports we are featuring today include Manulife (NYSE: MFC Free Report ) and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD Free Report ).

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Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They're virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today's 220 Zacks Rank #1 "Strong Buys" were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free >>.

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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 for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT): Free Stock Analysis Report
Home Depot, Inc. (The) (HD): Free Stock Analysis Report
General Dynamics Corporation (GD): Free Stock Analysis Report
Manulife Financial Corp (MFC): Free Stock Analysis Report
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