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Acuity Brands, Helmerich & Payne, Air Methods, AMN Healthcare Services and Halyard Health highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 10, 2016– Zacks Equity Research highlights Acuity Brands (AYI) as the Bull of the Day and Helmerich & Payne (HP) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Air Methods Corp (AIRM), AMN Healthcare Services (AHS) and Halyard Health (HYH).

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day :

Lighting is one of those areas in our lives that we often take for granted. We hardly think about how important having a well-lit place can be until we find ourselves in the dark, nor do investors think about these companies on a frequent basis either. However, this could be a mistake if you take a closer look of Acuity Brands (AYI), a leader in innovative lighting systems.

This Georgia-based company might not be a household name, but it has a variety of lighting solutions and particularly in the LED market. While this might not sound like the sexiest place for investors to go, the stock has actually been a star performer and it has gained over 41% in the past year, so clearly it is on the right track.

But with these kind of gains in a difficult market, investors need to be extra careful to make sure that the fundamentals also lineup as well. Fortunately for AYI, there is plenty of promise if we look to recent estimates and some of their stats on the momentum front too.

Recent Estimates

Over the past two months, we haven’t seen any analyst earnings estimates go lower for the current quarter or full year, helping to push the consensus earnings estimate sharply higher over the past two months. Current earnings expectations have actually surged by 5.35% in the past sixty days for the current quarter, while the full year estimate has moved higher by over 8.1% in the same time frame. Clearly, there is strong potential for AYI to continue growing its business in the near term.

Bear of the Day:

Oil and gas stocks have been surging so far in 2016 thanks to a rebound in prices and a bit more hope for the market and its longer term potential. But recent events suggest that this run might be coming to an end, as sluggish economic data and an oversupplied market are starting to wreck havoc on a number of stocks in the space.

Take Helmerich & Payne (HP) for example as a great representation of this trend. This Oklahoma-based company is focused on the drilling market has seen its shares rise by nearly 9% since the start of 2016. However, May has been a rough stretch for the company and HP stock has fallen by almost double digits just since the beginning of the calendar month.

This is obviously a bearish trend, but investors have to be asking if this can continue for HP shares, or if a rebound is dead ahead. Well, if we consider some of the bearish economic data lately—such as sluggish China growth prospects and increased worries over U.S. economic activity—and we add that to the recent earnings estimates for this stock, it becomes clear that HP may be facing more pain in the near term.

Recent Estimates

Analysts have been racing to cut their earnings expectations for HP stock. In the past two months we haven’t seen a single estimate go higher, compared to eight lower in the current quarter and eight lower for the full year.

The magnitude of these earnings estimate cuts has also been troubling. We have seen expectations slashed by more than 50% for the current quarter and current year, while the most recent estimates have been especially bleak.

Additional content:

Will the EU Disintegrate This Summer?

There’s a big question all Europe watchers must take seriously. Will the European integration dream disintegrate across the summer?

It is not outlandish to speculate.

In the Global Week Ahead, there are two related acts due on stage, in this EU integration-disintegration drama:

Monday kicked off with an extraordinary meeting of EU Finance ministers to discuss the macroeconomic adjustment program for Greece. Could Greece finally get some debt relief? That would be a helpful step. ‘The Sustainability of Greece’s Public Debt’ was the topic slated for discussion.

Attention is likely to find its way to the U.K. this week, too. U.K. Treasury Minister Osborne speaks to the parliament on Wednesday. A regular U.K. Monetary Policy Committee meeting to set the base rate hits on Thursday. There will be a press conference.

The Brexit poll (the British referendum to leave the European Union) is set for June 23rd, 45 days away. The latest polls give a 41% and 42% chance to leaving or staying, respectively. 13% are undecided. 4% won’t vote.

U.K. Prime Minister Cameron recently defended his decision to call the EU referendum, telling the BBC: "You shouldn't try to hold an independent sovereign nation in an organization against its will."Then, Cameron went on to backtrack and say leaving the EU meant "the clock being turned back to an age of competing nationalism in Europe."

Whether this Brexit vote is a vote for or against Cameron’s U.K. leadership remains to be seen. Running a democratic country by referendum speaks to a weakening hold on Prime Ministerial power. He will seek to consolidate party support after this vote. U.K. Conservatives look to be about as unified as U.S. Republicans these days. That’s me being polite.

With my economist hat on, I think EU Finance Ministers want to get the Greek fiscal debt situation to calm down. They wish to move forward productively. This is partly a tactic to help U.K. voters see the EU in a favorable light. A political blowup with Greece, scant weeks before the U.K. referendum, would be very bad indeed for the EU integration camp.

The U.S. — once again — looks to be the most stable house in which to play your stock market cards.

Over the weekend, 3 U.S. Health Care mid-cap stocks moved a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy). Each is also the holder of a long-term Zacks VGM score of A. That tells you the U.S. Health Care sector -- a perennial Very Attractive sector -- is looking good for a stock pick right now.

One is Air Methods Corp (AIRM). This is air transport for medical emergencies with a $1.4 billion market cap. The stock also has a Zacks VGM (Value, Growth, Momentum) score of A.

The second is AMN Healthcare Services (AHS). This is a travel healthcare staffing company with a $1.8 billion market cap. It recruits and places nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals in travel or permanent assignments. The stock has a Zacks VGM score of A too.

The third and final is Halyard Health (HYH). This is a med tech company with a $1.4 billion market cap. It is focused on advancing health and healthcare by preventing infection, eliminating pain and speeding recovery. They sell surgical and infection prevention products for the operating room. It has a Zacks VGM score of A, too.

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About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

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ACUITY BRANDS (AYI): Free Stock Analysis Report
HELMERICH&PAYNE (HP): Free Stock Analysis Report
AIR METHODS CRP (AIRM): Free Stock Analysis Report
AMN HLTHCR SVCS (AHS): Free Stock Analysis Report
HALYARD HEALTH (HYH): Free Stock Analysis Report
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