The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: SPDR S&P Homebuilders, PNC Financial Services, Direxion Daily Energy Bull 3X Shs, American Water Works and Western Union

CHICAGO, Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 SPDR S&P Homebuilders (AMEX:XHB), PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC), Direxion Daily Energy Bull 3X Shs (AMEX:ERX), American Water Works Co., Inc. (NYSE:AWK) and Western Union Co. (NYSE:WU).


Get the most recent insight from Zacks Equity Research with the free Profit from the Pros newsletter:

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

New Top-Down Targets for 2012

In September and October, it's a "forward look" to a 2013 earnings world.

Top-down S&P 500 earnings from ZRS indicate our top-down models are pessimistic, saying S&P 500 earnings will be up +5% in 2012 and may grow +3% to +7% in 2013 versus bottom-up consensus near +12%.

Top-Down S&P 500 End-Of-Year Targets by Zacks In-House Strategists...

We believe that holding or raising new S&P 500 highs above 1470 is possible, but it is also possible we are in a range-bound market until a firm resolution of 'fiscal cliff' issues. 1390-1400 is our low end.

In late September, some Zacks experts think equity markets have reached a phase when stocks stall out, and investors move money from one group to another, creating big winners and big losers. The very next day they switch places. Some days, a stock gets crushed and investors can't figure out why. The next day the same stock is zooming higher while the market is flat. Don't look for logic or a trend that can be traded. There are-head fakes during these times. Stay focused on fundamentals, which means rising earnings estimates and attractive valuations.

S&P 500? We view the S&P 500 as a balanced global index, where 45% of company revenues are earned abroad. With Europe's economy in a shallow recession and growth slowing in China, the remaining 55% of U.S. earnings raises the outlook for the U.S. S&P 500 above foreign indexes with heavier international exposure. Macro risks are less within the massive U.S.A. economy at this moment. We like large cap U.S. stocks.

DJIA? Ditto the S&P story.

NASDAQ? We like the IT sector long-term. But we keep the NASDAQ-100 at a market perform at the moment, as foreign revenue growth and domestic business spending on IT have slowed considerably. We would add to a position here, though among stronger growing IT companies who have recently beaten estimates. Apple keeps things interesting and keeps the index up.

Zacks Large Cap/Small Cap Style Boxes show a "Muddle Through" stock-pickers regime lingering. Faster growing, richly priced, and smaller market cap companies offer investors higher expected returns. But the market isn't buying it. Instead, investors have bid up quality large cap value and blend stocks. However, a contrarian view here may be the right one.

Finally, how do you find a successful investment opportunity by tracking industry trends? In debates, we at Zacks note a firm consensus for a steady "Muddle Through Economy." That's misleading. Inside a +2% GDP growth rate, industry trends churn this economy. And inside an economy's churn, broad opportunities and equally broad risks exist for any investor.

Zacks strategists have positioned their investors on bullish opportunities. Picks from individual strategists in SPDR S&P Homebuilders (ETF) (AMEX:XHB), PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC), Direxion Daily Energy Bull 3X Shs(ETF) (AMEX:ERX) and American Water Works Co., Inc. (NYSE:AWK) are just a few. But be equally aware, churn includes significant downside risks.

Here are five industry trends to think about:

(1) Momentum in U.S. housing markets helps the Financials sector andHome Constructionindustries the most.

For Zacks Rank industries, we see strong earnings ranks tied to Housing such as Home Furnishing-Appliance, Real Estate, Construction-Building Services, Banks-Major and Banks &Thrifts.

(2) Rising oil prices mostly help the Energy sector.

For Zacks Rank industries, we see strength in Oil-Misc., Pipelines andDrilling. Also, we see a strong Zacks Rank for Energy-Alternative Sources.

We see Zacks Rank weakness in Airlines, Oil & Gas-Integrated and Coal.

(3) Fiscal Cliff. Coming tax sunsets could raise U.S. personal income tax rates, or impose sequestration that cuts spending. This appears to hurt the Industrials and IT sectors the most.

We have seen weakness in capital goods spending and hiring across all business sectors. For a Zacks Rank example, a weakMisc.Tech industry is now apparent.

(4) The U.S. drought has negative effects on the upstream Consumer Staples sector in such industries as Food Distributors and Packaged Foods, who must pass on the higher input prices.

We see strength in Zacks Rank downstream industries like Utilities-Water, Ag. Products, Fertilizers, and Ag. Chemicals.

(5) China slowdown shows up in weakness in Steel and Metals-non-Ferrous.

Western Union Offers Mobile Money

In an effort to serve its customers in a better way, money transfer company Western Union Co. (NYSE:WU) has launched its Mobile Money Transfer service in El Salvador.

The company has tied up with Tigo Money for providing this service in this latin American region. Tigo Money – Tigo's mobile money service – will allow the people of this region to receive money from Western Union customers around the globe.

Tigo's wide network in 13 markets across Latin America and Africa has motivated Western Union to consider it for an alliance. Tigo is a subsidiary of the telecommunication group Millicom International Cellular S.A.

The service will help the subscribers of Tigo to directly receive funds through their mobile from around the world. They can also use the funds received through this service to recharge mobile phones.

Western Union El Salvador as an attractive remittance market because of its large migrant population.

The company is aggressively embracing the use of new age technology for providing flawless service to its customers. Mobile payments are gaining momentum due to its convenience and round-the-clock accessibility. This service is expected to witness faster adoption rate than any other electronic channel.

As of December 31, 2011, there were over 150,000 Western Union agent locations enabled with the technology to transfer money through a mobile phone. Although mobile transfer contributes a small portion to the company's revenues, Western Union is witnessing strong growth in some corridors.

Happy Investing!

Want more from Zacks Equity Research? Subscribe to the free Profit from the Pros newsletter:

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today:

About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leon Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at

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

Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.