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Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day Highlights: Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Weight Watchers International, Apple, Intel and Amgen

CHICAGO, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. (NYSE:LL) as the Bull of the Day and Weight Watchers International (NYSE:WTW) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) and Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq:AMGN).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at http://at.zacks.com/?id=2678.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

If you're looking for a way to play the housing recovery without owning a homebuilder, look no further than Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. (NYSE:LL). The largest retailer of hardwood flooring is expected to grow earnings by the double digits in both 2013 and 2014. Lumber Liquidators is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

While investors shunned Lumber Liquidators during the Great Recession as housing struggled, the company continued to grow. In November 2009, the company had 180 stores. As of the end of Dec 2012, it had 288 locations. It now carries over 340 varieties of flooring.

Lumber Liquidators' earnings have been telegraphing the turnaround in the housing market for the past year. It has posted big surprises on the Zacks Consensus each of the last four quarters. The surprises have averaged 30%.

On Feb 20, it reported fourth quarter results which saw net sales jump 20.8% to a record $210.7 million. Comparable store net sales climbed 13.2%. Average sale price for comparable store sales rose 3.9%.

Bear of the Day:

New Years' resolutions haven't been good for Weight Watchers International (NYSE:WTW). The company recently gave disappointing guidance for 2013 as it struggled to recruit new members. Weight Watchers has plunged to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Weight Watchers is well known for its celebrity commercials endorsing its weight loss plans and its diet foods found in local supermarkets. Each week it holds 45,000 meetings where members receive support from company leaders and others in the program while learning about nutrition and healthy eating.

The company also operates WeightWatchers.com which offers subscription weight management products over the Internet.

Weight Watchers' problems aren't with the web site side of the business. WeightWatchers.com had a strong 2012 fourth quarter. Internet revenues rose 17.7% over the prior year. Online paid weeks were up 18% versus the fourth quarter of 2011.

It was on the meetings side where things slipped. Fourth quarter meeting revenue for North America fell 1.9% due to continued lower enrollment volumes and weakness in the traditional meetings business. Meeting paid weeks and attendance decreased 7.3% and 14.5%, respectively, year over year.

 Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Apple Stock Rumors: Stop the Madness

The mania over Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) shares and the company in general has reached a new low. Lately, investors have been focused in on a possible stock spilt for the next reason to be hopeful on the company's prospects in the near term.

Keep in mind that a stock split doesn't actually matter in terms of a stock's value. Instead, it is pretty much just a gimmick at this point, and pretty weak one at that since round lot trading isn't really an issue anymore.

But like with most Apple trading, both in the past and in current trading, fundamentals aren't exactly important. Shares moved steadily higher on the rumor of the possible split, and the story has dominated headlines as well.

This is despite the fact that a stock split after a nearly 30% crash in a few months is, to put it mildly, absurd. Don't companies usually try to do splits at lofty prices instead of waiting for a catastrophe as a weak attempt to juice prices?

While it is true that a possible hike in dividend payouts has also been rumored, it is kind of depressing that this is what the once-innovator has come to already. Instead of being an all-star in the tech world, the company is now just a yield destination for investors, no different really than Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) or any other important, but no longer worshiped, big tech company out there.

I for one had been thinking about jumping into AAPL at these depressed levels, but some of these recent events have made me reconsider. The stock is still trading on rumors and conjecture, but not even about the company's business anymore, or the 'Holy Grail' of iTV. Instead it is about meaningless things like stock splits and how insane the cash pile will get before something is done about it.

True, the company is hovering just above its 52-week lows and it has an extremely low P/E, but can this make up for all of the other issues swirling around the stock?

After all, AAPL currently has just a Zacks Rank of 3 or 'Hold' and it is in the middle of the road in terms of Industry Rank, so there is little to hang your hat on from that perspective. The pile of cash is now approaching one-third of total market cap in the company, but based on the latest shareholder meeting, there just seems to be 'active talk' about doing something with it.

At what point will it be enough? $150 billion? $200 billion?

Setback for Amgen

Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq:AMGN) was recently dealt a blow by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it halted the pediatric trials, evaluating the company's drug Sensipar (cinacalcet hydrochloride), for safety reasons. Sensipar, a calcium-sensing receptor agonist, is already available for decreasing the release of parathyroid hormone (PTH) from the parathyroid gland in adults since 2004.

The FDA cleared Amgen's drug for treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in adults with chronic kidney disease on dialysis. It is also approved for treating   hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood) in adults suffering from parathyroid cancer and severe hypercalcemia in adults with primary hyperparathyroidism, who are unable to undergo parathyroidectomy.
   
Amgen was conducting the studies to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Sensipar in patients less than 18 years of age. The FDA stopped the trials following the death of a 14-year-old patient.  The US regulatory body said that it is in the process of gathering information about the death. Even though the FDA is not fully sure that the death was caused by Sensipar, it stopped all pediatric studies on the drug as a safety measure.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to http://at.zacks.com/?id=2649.

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.

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 analyst 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 by visiting http://at.zacks.com/?id=7158.

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