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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Nokia, Apple, Research in Motion, MetroPCS Communications and Advanced Micro Devices

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 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 Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL), Research in Motion Limited (Nasdaq:RIMM), MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NYSE:AMD).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Earnings Preview: Nokia

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) is set to release its fourth-quarter 2012 results before the opening bell on Wednesday, January 24.

Despite posting a 25% positive surprise in the third quarter, Nokia failed to improve its top and bottom line results compared to the last year as its Windows-based smartphone Lumia failed to generate any meaningful market traction.

Factors to be Considered this Quarter

Things are, however, looking better in the current quarter as the company expects significant improvement in its Device and Service segment based on the good show by its flagship Lumia and low-end smartphone Asha.

The company reported in its preliminary report that it sold 4.4 million Lumia devices against 2.9 million units in the previous quarter, marking a sequential growth of nearly 52%. Nokia also sold 9.3 million units of Asha range of handsets in the fourth quarter, far better than 6.5 million handsets sold in the previous quarter, thereby posting an impressive sequential growth of about 43%.

It appears that the company's decision to develop Windows-based phones has started showing positive signs as the large screen Lumia 920 with some great imaging and mapping feature is attracting more customers. Gaining significant market traction in the emerging market is primarily attributable for the good results from Asha.

Unlike the third quarter, Nokia's activities in the fourth quarter were enough to win analysts' confidence. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter has improved in the last seven days from a negative earnings estimate of 1 cent to a current estimate of break even earnings.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Nokia Corporation is likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the fourth quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or at least Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) or Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) for this to happen. Unfortunately this is not the case here as elaborated below.

Break Even Zacks ESP: This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at $0.04 while the Zacks Consensus is lower at $0.00. This leads to a break even ESP for Nokia.

Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy): Nokia's Zacks Rank of 1, however, increases the predictive power of ESP. That said we also need to have a positive ESP to be confident for an earnings surprise call.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) has Earnings ESP of +3.34% and carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). It is scheduled to report its fourth quarter results on January 23.

Research in Motion Limited (Nasdaq:RIMM) is scheduled to release its fourth quarter fiscal 2013 results on March 28. It currently has a break even Earnings ESP and holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) has an Earnings ESP of positive 23.08% and carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). It is scheduled to release its fourth quarter results on January 26.

However, creating a niche for itself amid a crowded smartphone market remains the biggest challenge for the Finnish handset manufacturer.

Will AMD Beat Estimates?

We expect online retailer chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NYSE:AMD) to beat expectations when it reports fourth quarter 2012 results on January 22nd.

Why a Likely Positive Surprise?

Our proven model shows that Advanced Micro is likely to beat earnings because it has the right combination of two key ingredients.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings Surprise Prediction or ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is at +30.0%. This is very meaningful and a leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise for shares.

ZacksRank #3 (Hold): Note that stocks with Zacks Ranks of #1, #2 and #3 have a significantly higher chance of beating earnings estimates. The sell-rated stocks (Zacks Rank #4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement. 

The combination of Advanced Micro's Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and +30.0% ESP makes us reasonably confident about looking for a positive earnings beat on January 22nd.

What is Driving the Better than Expected Earnings?

Given the weak PC market, Advanced Micro's decision to diversify its business into new embedded markets along with the recent restructuring initiatives are likely to lead to a positive earnings surprise in the upcoming quarter.

The company is diversifying its business into new embedded markets, including communication, industrial and gaming among others. It expects to increase the revenue contribution from its embedded business to almost 20% from the mere 5% level at which it is currently. The restructuring initiatives will reduce the company's expense base by 25%.

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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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