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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Wendy's, Accenture, Adobe Systems, Saks and Procter & Gamble

CHICAGO, July 11, 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 The Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq:WEN-Free Report), Accenture plc (NYSE:ACN-Free Report), Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE-Free Report), Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS-Free Report) and Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG-Free Report).

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Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Wendy's Upgraded to Strong Buy

On Jul 9, 2013, Zacks Investment Research upgraded The Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq:WEN-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) based on its upbeat outlook for the upcoming quarters backed by menu innovation.

Why the Upgrade?

Wendy's has been gaining traction since the beginning of the year primarily buoyed by its 'Right Price, Right Size Menu' initiative. Wendy's is now all set for a national rollout of its new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger in the upcoming quarter. The product has received a favorable response in the test run and is expected to provide this fast food operator with a shot in the arm.

The company had to resort to a series of initiatives to trigger comps. Emphasis on value menu as well as premium limited period offerings are expected to drive results this quarter. Wendy's is also taking steps to streamline its cost structure. These include removal of its breakfast operations at certain companies and franchise restaurants to do away with unprofitable morning daypart operations. In the upcoming quarters, Wendy's will benefit from a reduction in beverage costs owing to new agreements with two of its beverage suppliers.

Management also raised its full year earnings per share guidance to reflect the net cost savings from debt refinancing that took place in May 2013. Its adjusted earnings per share are now expected to be within the range of 20–22 cents per share, up from the prior expectation of 18–20 cents per share. The new adjusted earnings per share range represent an 18%–29% year-over-year increase.

Despite a sluggish industry sales environment, the company's earnings were decent in the first quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the year-ago earnings by 50%. The restaurateur is expected to report its second-quarter earnings on Jul 23, 2013. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the second quarter stands at 6 cents per share, which represents about 20% jump in earnings on year-over-year basis.

Accenture Completes Acquity Buy

Management technology outsourcing and consulting service provider, Accenture plc (NYSE:ACN-Free Report) recently completed the previously announced (May 20) acquisition of Hong Kong-based online marketing consultant, Acquity Group Ltd. for roughly $316.0 million in cash. The move is part of Accenture's efforts to bolster its digital marketing capabilities.

Founded in 2001, Acquity Group provides brand e-commerce and digital marketing services. It provides digital strategy services that include strategies to improve the brand identity of its clients on a digital platform and enhance their online presence. Its clientele includes industry leaders such as Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:ADBE-Free Report), Saks Inc. (NYSE:SKS-Free Report), Mine Safety Appliances Co. and Penske Automotive Group Inc.

Acquity Group's intellectual properties will join Accenture Interactive platform, which is the company's marketing-services arm. Accenture Interactive was formed in 2009 -- in association with its client Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG-Free Report) -- in order to deliver superior consulting, technology and analytics services mainly to chief marketing officers (CMOs).

Competent marketing is the key to success for every organization. Marketing and digital executives of a company are responsible for developing digital marketing campaigns, marketing contents, e-commerce and marketing operations. Accenture Interactive is a well-integrated platform that helps CMOs devise marketing strategies and derive higher ROI (return on investment) from it.

Apart from Acquity, Accenture completed the acquisition of U.K.-based design agency Fjord (in May) and digital production services vendor avVenta Worldwide (in Oct 2012) to enhance its interactive platform. This will enable Accenture to address the critical needs of CMOs while digitizing their marketing plans.

According to U.S.-based IT research firm Gartner Inc., firms generally spend 2.5% of their revenues on digital marketing and the spending is expected to go up by roughly 9.0% in 2013. One more important statistics from Gartner is that around 50.0% of digital marketing activities get outsourced.

Considering the growing need for digital marketing, we expect Accenture's investments in its digital and marketing capabilities to pay off soon.

We are encouraged by Accenture's strategy of growing through acquisitions. However, increasing competition from IBM Corp., a strained spending environment and Accenture's broad European exposure (roughly 40.0%) may temper its growth prospects to some extent.

Currently, Accenture has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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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Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; 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.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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