March 13, 2013 at 09:30 AM EDT
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Research in Motion Limited, AT&T, Apple, Google and Monsanto

CHICAGO, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Research in Motion Limited (Nasdaq:BBRY), AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL), Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) and Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

BlackBerry Adds Carrier Partner

Customers in the U.S. who have waited long, will finally be able to lay their hands on Research in Motion Limited's (Nasdaq:BBRY) latest smartphone Z10. The Canadian handset manufacturer has now added AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) as its carrier partner in the U.S. The launch of the smartphone has been delayed in the U.S. by seven weeks of its earlier planned launch as it underwent extensive carrier testing.

Priced at $199.99, the smartphone is expected to hit the AT&T stores by Mar 22, 2013 with a two year contract. In fact, presales are expected to begin from Tuesday. Another top U.S. carrier T-Mobile USA also announced that Z10 will be widely available in its stores from next week, but did not disclosed any specific launch date or price of the phone.  

The U.S. launch of Z10 together with a takeover rumor from China's Lenovo Group pushed the share price higher as the stock ended at $14.90, up more than 14% at the end of trade on Mar 11, 2013.  

Research In Motion, once the global leader of smartphones has been struggling over the last 3-4 years, as they failed to identify consumers' preferences and has been battling in a crowded smartphone market mainly dominated by Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq:AAPL) iOS and Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq:GOOG) Android Platform.

After years of delay, BBRY finally launched its much awaited BB10 OS (operating system) based device on Jan 30, 2013. BBRY's fresh new platform will be tested as the company hopes to revive its fortune via its latest OS based devices.

The company started selling its device in the U.K. one day after its launch in the U.S. and has expanded in 20 other countries since then. Research in Motion has seen robust demand for its flagship device in some of the markets including U.K., Canada and U.A.E. Moreover, BBRY has witnessed strong customer switch from other OS platforms to their latest BB10 based device.

Recently BBRY suffered a setback as major U.S. carrier Sprint-Nextel Corp. has denied an offer to Z10 being part of its portfolio. Moreover, the U.S. launch comes close on the launch of two popular android based devices from Asian manufacturers – HTC and Samsung Electronics.

However, it order to gain popularity, Research in Motion has to be successful in the lucrative U.S. market, where BBRY has a mere 6.4% market share at the end of 2012. We believe offering the latest device on the fastest U.S. LTE (Long Term Evolution) network of AT&T is positive news for BBRY. It will give the Canadian handset manufacturer the opportunity of a foothold in the world's largest smartphone market. Additionally, it will allow Research in Motion to compete better with Apple's iPhone 5, which is also retailed by AT&T for $199.99.

Currently, Research in Motion carries a Zacks Rank # 3 (Hold).

Monsanto Hits 52-Week High

Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), an agricultural products provider, hit a 52-week high of $104.30 on Mar 11, as it gains momentum after reporting solid first quarter fiscal 2013 results. Monsanto has generated a return of approximately 8.4% year-to-date.

The company's long-term estimated earnings per share growth rate is 11.36%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months came in at approximately 2,374K.

Solid First Quarter Performance

Monsanto delivered solid results for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 and provided a positive outlook for the upcoming quarters, which we believe drove Monsanto's shares to the 52-week high.

Adjusted earnings of 62 cents exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 67.6% and the prior-year quarter's earnings by an incredible 169.6%, driven by solid top-line growth. Also, sales for the quarter beat both the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as prior year revenue, led by an increase in both the segments.

On the back of such strong results, management upped its guidance for fiscal 2013 to a range of $4.30-$4.40 from the previous expectations of $4.18-$4.32 per share.

The Zacks Consensus Estimates witnessed an upward bias following solid fiscal first quarter results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 rose almost 3.9% to $4.55 while that for fiscal 2014 increased 3.0% to $5.18 in the past 90 days.

In-fact, Monsanto has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Earnings Estimate in seven out of the last eight quarters; posting an average surprise of 19.9%.

The corn business of Monsanto is expected to flourish both in Brazil and Argentina immensely in the coming quarters. With the application of new R&D innovations and strategic alternatives, Monsanto anticipates that 2013 would be its highest revenue generating fiscal year.

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