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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, HSBC Holdings, Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup and SunTrust Banks

CHICAGO, Jan. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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), HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC), The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS), Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE:C) and SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE:STI).


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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Google Revs Up 36% Year Over Year

Search engine titan Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) reported earnings after the bell, and while the results may have not been surprising, they are nevertheless fairly astonishing. The company brought in $14.42 billion over the past three months for a headline EPS read of $10.65 per share.

At Zacks, we account for stock-based compensation (as well as a 34-cent restructuring charge in the quarter), so our EPS number comes to $9.02. That's still notably higher than the $8.61 expected by the 12 analysts covering Google shares. Analysts also expected GOOG to bring in $12.42 billion for the quarter, so it beat on the top-line as well.

Each quarter, Google's reporting numbers create headaches for those trying to decipher their meaning. Not that there's anything tricky afoot here, but the nature of Google's different businesses lend the company's earnings reports to be less than obvious and straightforward. Long-time owners of GOOG shares can likely attest to the head-scratching that occurs when CEO Larry Page & Co. put their quarterly numbers out.

Contrary to what some casual observers may think, Google is anything but a lock to beat estimates quarter after quarter. In fact, over the previous 4 quarters, Google averages a negative EPS surprise of 4.91%, and the company missed big (17%) in the September quarter.

Analysts had been extremely dormant ahead of the company's earnings report, with no one adjusting estimates over the past month, and only 1 of 12 upgrading expectations over the past 60 days.

HSBC Settles Foreclosure Claims

Last week, HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC) became the latest bank to announce a foreclosure settlement deal with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and other U.S. banking regulators. The company has agreed to pay $249 million to stop review of wrongful foreclosures in the U.S.

Out of the total amount, $96 million will be utilized for direct payments to eligible borrowers, while $153 million will be used for providing relief to troubled homeowners through principal reductions and loan modifications. The deal will enable nearly 112,000 homeowners, whose property was wrongly foreclosed in 2009–2010 by HSBC, to get cash compensation, ranging from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $125,000.

Additionally, under the terms of the deal, the process initiated by the OCC in 2011 – to review all the borrowers' files that were wrongly foreclosed in 2009-2010 – would end. Under that process, the banks were required to hire independent consultants to go through the loan files and look for any faulty foreclosure practice.

Earlier in the same week, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) and Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $557 million in aggregate to settle similar charges. Moreover, in early January, 10 banks, including Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE:C), BofA, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE:STI), agreed to pay a total of $8.5 billion.

As a result of the deal, HSBC is anticipated to record a pre-tax charge of $96 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, while the remaining amount is expected to be covered from the existing reserves.

Though the settlement is expected to marginally dent HSBC's fourth-quarter results, in the long run it will be a big relief. Further, the distressed homeowners would also be benefited. We are hopeful that like the earlier foreclosure settlement deal, this one would also be a decisive step in restoring confidence in businesses and rejuvenating the sagging housing market.

HSBC currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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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.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today:

About Zacks 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

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Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

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