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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

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Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Starwood Hotels, Marriott International, Brasil Telecom, Telemar and Vale do Rio Doce
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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: Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (NYSE: HOT), Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR), Brasil Telecom Participações S.A. (NYSE: BRP), Telemar (NYSE: TNE) and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (NYSE: RIO).
See the latest posts to the Analyst Blog:
http://www.zacks.com/blog/post_info.html?g=6
Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:
Starwood Hotels Target Increases
We maintain our Buy rating for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (NYSE: HOT) following the release of strong Q1 financial results. We consider the company’s significant exposure to international markets to be a positive attribute that should help Starwood to weather the economic downturn in the U.S. market. We continue to believe that Starwood deserves a premium valuation, given the company’s well-positioned portfolio. Starwood is currently trading at approximately 10.9x our 2008 EBITDA estimate.
Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) currently trades at approximately 10.8x our 2008 EBITDA estimate. Starwood’s stock had declined from near $75 per share in mid-July to under $40 per share in mid-January. Some of the decline during the summer was likely in response to the tightening credit markets, and the perceived difficulties now present in obtaining financing for private-equity buyouts. As Starwood was seen by many on the Street as a potential takeout candidate, we believe the decline has in large part removed the buyout-premium that was likely reflected in HOT’s share price.
We believe that the pullback during last fall was likely the result of an increased focus by investors on the company’s vacation ownership business, which has to some extent overshadowed the strength in the company’s hotels operations. Most recently, concerns over the overall health of the economy, along with uncertainties regarding consumer spending going forward, led to further share price declines.
Brasil Telecom Target $104
We are keeping our current Buy recommendation on Brasil Telecom Participações S.A. (NYSE: BRP). The company posted better-than-expected results in the first quarter of 2008, and the short-term outlook remains positive. The company also has solid cash flow, decent operating margins in the wireline business, and an attractive valuation.
Additionally, the growth in the wireless and the broadband segments are encouraging and should continue in future quarters. The news on the merger with Telemar (NYSE: TNE) was not confirmed, but we still believe it will happen soon. That will be positive for both companies.
BRP is trading at 11.3x our 2008 EPS estimate, below the industry mean and median, and an enterprise value to EBITDA (a more common valuation metric for the telecom industry) of just 3.1x our 2008 estimate. We think the stock is trading at a highly attractive valuation. Additionally, the company posted very good results for the first quarter 2008 and the short-term outlook seems promising.
RIO Outlook Strong as Iron
We are keeping our Buy recommendation on Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (NYSE: RIO). RIO reported slightly below expectation results for the first quarter of 2008. The main problem was lower nickel prices and some losses in commodity derivatives due to extreme volatility. Nevertheless, we remain highly encouraged by the continued economic growth in Asia, particularly in China, which has been driving demand for minerals.
The recent 70% price hike for iron ore for 2008 will positively affect the company’s results in the following quarters. RIO is trading at 10.8x our forward 2008 EPS estimate. Over the past five years, RIO has consistently maintained a price/earnings (P/E) ratio below that of the industry.
We believe investors have been giving the company a discount valuation relative to peers due to its heavy exposure to Brazilian political and economic risks and its above average leverage. However, the Brazilian economy is showing growth and there is a considerable likelihood for Brazil to be upgraded in the short-term making it investment grade, a fact that will have a meaningful impact on the valuation of Brazilian stocks.
Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.
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.
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Oil spikes to $ 117 a barrel


LONDON (Reuters) - Crude oil prices surged above $117, setting a new record high on Monday because of worries of supply disruptions from major producers and comments by OPEC reiterating there is no need to raise output.
U.S. light crude CLc1 struck a record high of $117.40 a barrel. It was trading 43 cents higher at $117.12 by 4:45 a.m. EDT.
London Brent crude LCOc1 also struck its all time peak of $114.65. It was trading at $114.37, up by 45 cents.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sees no need to raise oil production to counter high oil prices, OPEC's president said on Sunday.
"No," said Chakib Khelil, who is also Algeria's Energy and Mines Minister, when asked by reporters whether OPEC would raise production. He added that raising output would have no impact on prices as the market was well-supplied.
His remark came amid concerns over North Sea production due to an impending strike by workers at a refinery in Scotland and supplies from Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter.
Scottish oil refinery Grangemouth has started to shut down ahead of a two-day strike later in April.
If the union goes ahead with the strike, it will effectively close down a part of the North Sea oil production and some gas output, refinery operator Ineos said in a statement on Saturday.
A Nigerian rebel group said on Friday it had sabotaged a major oil pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and vowed to step up attacks on oil installations.
Officials at Shell, which is currently pumping 400,000 barrels per day below capacity in the OPEC nation due to sabotage and security concerns, confirmed a small amount of production had been shut in.
"The spate of incidents has reminded the markets of the fragility of oil supplies," said Sydney-based David Moore, a commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sen. Trying to stop the merger !

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Democratic senator urged U.S. communications regulators on Friday to block Sirius Satellite Radio's (SIRI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) purchase of rival XM Satellite Radio (XMSR.O: Quote, Profile, Research), saying the deal would lead to higher prices to customers.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, a high-ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission saying the agency should not follow the "illogical" decision of the Justice Department, which last month granted the deal antitrust approval.
"This merger is contrary to the public interest. I hope that the FCC will stand up for competition in the public interest and deny this merger," Dorgan, of North Dakota, said in the letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
The merger would bring entertainers such as Oprah Winfrey and shock-jock Howard Stern under the same banner. It has been criticized as anti-competitive by the traditional radio industry, and by some U.S. lawmakers including Dorgan.
However, antitrust authorities at the Justice Department approved the combination after concluding it would not harm consumers. The department said satellite radio companies face stiff competition from traditional AM/FM radio, high-definition radio, MP3 players and audio delivered by mobile phones.
With the Justice Department's approval in hand, analysts have said XM and Sirius are unlikely to face outright opposition from the FCC, although the agency could impose conditions on the deal designed to protect consumers and preserve competition.
Under U.S. law, the FCC is tasked with looking beyond competition issues and determining whether a communications deal is in the overall public interest.
Sirius Chief Executive Mel Karmazin has promised that the combined company would let customers buy channels individually as well as let them block adult channels and get a refund for those channels. Sirius has also said all existing XM and Sirius satellite radios will continue to work after the merger.
(Reporting by Peter Kaplan; editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Marriott Reports on Thursday ! Look for big earnings !

Forbes-,
NEW YORK -
Hotel operator Marriott International Inc. reports earnings for the first quarter on Thursday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.
OVERVIEW: In January, Marriott named the chain of boutique hotels it is launching with upscale hotelier Ian Schrager "Edition." Marriott and Schrager plan to open the first Edition hotels in about two years in nine cities, including Paris, Madrid, Miami, and Chicago. Two are planned for Los Angeles.
The Bethesda, Md.-based company, which operates under brand names that include Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott, said in February that it signed a deal with Orbitz Worldwide Inc. that would make its rooms available on the online travel company's Web sites.
BY THE NUMBERS: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial predict a profit of 33 cents per share on revenue of $2.83 billion.
ANALYST TAKE: Deutsche Bank (nyse: DB - news - people ) North America analyst Chris Woronka said in an April 10 client note that he anticipates Marriott's quarterly earnings results will be helped by international growth, buybacks and lower interest.
He sees increased focus on timeshare operations and expects the lodging company to "confirm that leisure and weekend demand/pricing power is decelerating and booking windows for short-term transient and group business are narrow."
Woronka predicts a first-quarter profit of 35 cents per share.
Felicia Hendrix of Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEH - news - people ) estimated 3 percent growth in North American revenue per available room in the first quarter. Marriott previously predicted growth in a range of 2 percent to 4 percent, the analyst said in a client note. Revenue per available room, also know as revpar, is a key gauge of a hotel operator's performance.
Hendrix expects Marriott's quarterly timeshare revenue to plunge 84 percent to $9 million, which is within the range of $7 million to $12 million predicted by Marriott. The analyst said the forecast accounts for new project startup costs and difficult comparisons to results from a year ago when a large Hawaiian inventory became financially reportable.
Hendrix provided a first-quarter earnings estimate of 32 cents per share.
STOCK PERFORMANCE: Shares of Marriott International (nyse: MAR - news - people ) fluctuated during the quarter, but ended the period less than 1 percent higher.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Alcoa"s Profit Fall Short

Alcoa reported earnings that came up short of analysts' consensus estimates because of higher costs and a weaker dollar, but the company's sales beat forecasts. Sales Top estimates.

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