For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 21, 2010 – 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: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), U.S. Bancorp (USB), Coca Cola (KO), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Baidu.com (BIDU).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:

J&J Beats but Lowers Outlook

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) reported first quarter 2010 earnings per share (EPS) of $1.62, which included an after-tax gain of $910 million arising from litigation. However, excluding this item, the company reported EPS of $1.29, exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a couple of cents and the reported $1.26 from the year-ago period.

The company reported revenues of $15.6 billion, an increase of 4% compared to the first quarter of 2009. While operational factors brought down sales by 0.1%, foreign exchange movement had a positive impact of 4.1%. Although sales in the domestic market came down by 5%, sales in the international markets increased 14.4%.

In addition to posting first quarter results of fiscal 2010, Johnson & Johnson has lowered guidance for 2010. The company expects EPS in the range of $4.80 – $4.90 compared to the earlier guidance (provided with fiscal 2009 results) of $4.85 – $4.95. This reflects the impact of recent changes in foreign currency exchange rates as well as the health care reform. The Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.90 is already towards the upper end of this range.

U.S. Bancorp Reports In-Line

U.S. Bancorp (USB) has reported first quarter earnings of $669 million or 34 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The results compare favorably with the prior quarter’s earnings of $602 million or 30 cents per share and the prior-year quarter’s earnings of $529 million or 24 cents per share.

The improvement in earnings from the prior-year quarter primarily stemmed from a strong growth in revenues. However, credit losses and non-performing assets continued to trend higher in the quarter, reflecting continued stress in the commercial, commercial real estate, residential real estate and consumer loan portfolios. Nevertheless, it was notable that the rate of deterioration has somewhat moderated in the quarter.

Quarterly results were impacted by $175 million of provision for credit losses in excess of net charge-offs, net securities losses of $34 million including $46 million of impairments, partially offset by gains of $12 million on securities. These items reduced first quarter earnings by approximately 8 cents per share.

U.S. Bancorp reported loan losses of $1.1 billion, unchanged from the prior quarter and up from $788 million in the year-ago period. However, provision for credit losses decreased 5.6% sequentially and 0.6% year-over-year to $1.3 billion. This represents the second consecutive quarterly decrease in the provision for credit losses and the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Coca Cola Beats Zacks Consensus

Coca Cola Company (KO) reported first quarter 2010 results with earnings of 80 cents per share, which was above the Zacks Consensus Estimate 74 cents. Earnings were up 23% year over year.

Net revenues increased 5% year over year during the quarter, due to a 6% positive impact from currency translation and 3% increase in concentrate sales, which were partially offset by a 2% impact from pricing and mix. Worldwide unit case volume increased 3% in the quarter, aided by a 5% improvement in international unit case volume and strong growth in Coca Cola, its trademark brand.

The emerging market of India grew an impressive 29%. Turkey, Eurasia and Africa also reported strong growth of 18%, 11% and 11%, respectively, during the first quarter. In addition, strong unit case volume growth was observed in other key markets including Brazil, France and the Benelux countries. However, North American volume declined 1%.

Google’s Bias to Free Expression

Amid considerable speculation regarding the stealing of its user authentication software codes, which culminated in the withdrawal of Google.cn, Google Inc. (GOOG) reiterated its allegiance to free expression in an Official Google blog.

The company stated that in deciding against censorship in China, it was acting in accordance with law and the true spirit of the law as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads as follows-

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

The company stated that not only China, but 40 other countries had laws that required censorship in some form or other. Google stated that since it had to deal with the issue on a regular basis, the company had its own method of compliance.

Google typically complies with a country’s laws with respect to the services it provides within that country. It however tries to keep search results as uncensored as possible, in order to correctly represent the information available on the Internet.

Additionally, other Google platforms that host content, such as Blogger, YouTube and Picasa Web Albums are governed by their own content policies.

The company’s advertisement products are intended for commercial purposes and not related to free expression. Hence, Google has stringent policies that govern them.

While Google’s decision to go against the Chinese government has disappointed investors, there could be other things to consider. Google is not another tech company with a lot of tangible products to offer. Therefore, the company’s fortunes are necessarily dependent on the quality and availability of content. If Google had taken a softer stand with respect to China, the company may not have won in the end.

A number of sources have reported the increasing difficulties of foreign companies operating in China. The Chinese government, which is the primary procurement agency, has been making laws that increasingly restrict foreign goods and intellectual property.

Although Google will not benefit from the growth in the region, it is quite possible that had it stayed, the company would have been blocked out in other ways. China will no doubt promote local company Baidu.com (BIDU), which had been losing market share to Google since the company launched Google.cn.

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