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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and MoneyGram International

CHICAGO, Sept. 19, 2012 /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 Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG), Facebook (Nasdaq:FB), Yahoo Inc (Nasdaq:YHOO), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) and MoneyGram International Inc. (NYSE:MGI).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Google Acquires Nik Software

Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) recently announced its acquisition of Nik Software, a 17 year old company, which specializes in advanced photo editing. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

San Diego-based Nik Software develops digital image editing tools. It offers a variety of photo editing software for Windows and Mac OS X computers. Its popular mobile app Snapseed is currently available only on Apple devices but will be available on Android devices soon.

Google is a market leader in online advertising and it has been trying to explore various ways to increase its advertising revenue and fight competition. The company had stepped up its efforts in social media with its social network Google+, a service started in 2011 competing directly with Facebook.

The addition of Nik will likely bolster Google+ by bringing in online photo editing tools. Google also owns Picnik, the online photo editor, which has incorporated its high-end tools into Google+, including light and pixel size adjustments, color patterns and filters.

The Nik acquisition will allow Google to provide advanced photo editing features, hence enhancing the already-robust suite. By acquiring Nik Software, Google might be better positioned to compete against Facebook and others in the social media space.

The acquisition comes soon after the web giant Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) completed its own purchase of the photo-sharing app Instagram, which further strengthened its dominance in photo uploading and sharing. Like Instagram, Snapseed also has comprehensive in-app photo editing functions and photo-altering filters including tilt-shift effects, which make the photos more attractive. Instagram has more than 100 million users, while Snapseed has approximately only 9 million users.

Google continues to pick up smaller companies with specialized technology to boost its different offerings. Just last month, the company acquired marketing start-up Wildfire that provides software to help businesses place ads on social-media sites, strengthening its foothold in the world of social media. In June, the company bought Meebo for about $100 million that makes mobile applications for consumers as well as publishers, designed to enable online communication.

Google has done very well in the second quarter, with its gross revenue touching a record $12.21 billion. Revenues from both Google-owned and partner sites continued to grow double digits on a year-over-year basis. Historically, Google has always fared better than Yahoo Inc (Nasdaq:YHOO), which has been struggling, and Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), which is yet to gain critical mass.

However, other legal entanglements related to competitive matters or patent infringements remain an overhang. Google retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

MoneyGram Boosts Money Transfer Biz

In an attempt to further expand its money transfer network, MoneyGram International Inc. (NYSE:MGI) announced a strategic alliance with China's leading China Guangfa Bank (CGB). The company will now offer its money transfer services across the 132 branches of the bank located in China.

With the addition of CGB units, the company will now offer its services through 14,000 agent locations only in China. Overall, MoneyGram has a global network of more than 284,000 agent locations in about 196 countries, which primarily include retailers, international post offices and financial institutions.

Money transfer business remains the driving force for MoneyGram, which has been spreading business across the globe through various recognized financial institutions. Recently, the company has partnered with Nova Bank in Bosnia, Banco Ganadero in Bolivia, Vietcombank in Vietnam, UnionPay in China and Advance America – an operating subsidiary of leading Mexican bank Grupo Elektra SA – to bolster its position as one of the leading money transfer companies in the world.

Meanwhile, the company is also enhancing its brand awareness by developing user-friendly payment solutions that suit the new market trends. With regard to this growth strategy, the company is making efforts to expand its cash-to-account service to other banks as well as add new online services.

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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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About Zacks

Zacks.com 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 http://at.zacks.com/?id=5518.

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