For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – November 6, 2009 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) as the Bull of the Day and Canon (CAJ) the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Big Lots (BIG), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Nordstrom (JWN).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) is one of the more interesting biotechnology companies under our coverage. The company’s key pipeline drug, Fampridine-SR, is currently under U.S. FDA review, with a decision expected in late January 2010.

Outside the U.S., Acorda has partnered with Biogen Idec under very favorable terms. Fampridine-SR has blockbuster potential worldwide in our view. Plus, the company is extremely well-capitalized with over $290 million in cash, and management has commercial experience with current approved product Zanaflex.

These are among the best fundamentals in all of biotech. We reiterate our Outperform rating on the stock.

Bear of the Day:

We believe the sharp appreciation of the yen is eroding Canon’s (CAJ) revenue and profits. The company expects to improve profitability through product launches and cost-cutting efforts, and Canon has maintained its revenue and earnings forecast even though the third quarter was below expectations.

We expect revenue in 2009 to be hurt by weak consumer spending and the poor global economy, and believe the company will struggle to meet expectations in fiscal 2010. We maintain our estimates for the full year 2009. 2011 estimates have been added.

We also maintain our Underperform recommendation on CAJ shares, but increased our six-month target price to $30.00. 

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Initial Jobless Claims Down

Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 20,000 this week to 512,000. Last week’s numbers were revised slightly higher, so arguably the drop was 18,000, but that’s still a nice improvement.

The four-week moving average dropped by 3,000 to 523,750. Since new claims can be volatile from week to week, the four-week moving average is generally considered a better gauge of where we are.

However, we remain above the highest levels seen in either of the last two recessions. The level indicates that we are still losing jobs, but at a slower rate than we had been. In the past we did not start to see actual increases in the number of jobs in the economy until after the average fell well below 400,000, so we still have some work to do. The good news, though, is that the decrease has been pretty steady, and we have not started to plateau the way we did after the last two recessions.

Most economists agree that unemployment benefits are among the most effective ways to spend stimulus dollars, since the money goes directly to people in need, and those people are highly likely to spend the money quickly, thus providing a multiplier effect. The problem, though, is that you don’t want unemployment insurance to become a permanent welfare program. The idea has to be that it is a temporary bridge during tough times, not a way of life.

Still, new job creation at historically low rates — leaving millions of people with out any income at all — not only would cause huge humanitarian problems, it also causes big economic problems. While most of the unemployed are likely to be far more frugal this year in their Christmas shopping, doing more buying at Big Lots (BIG) and Wal-Mart (WMT) than Nordstrom (JWN), without the extended benefits they would not be spending at all, not even for basics — let alone Christmas presents.

Get the full analysis of all these stocks by going to

About the Bull and Bear of the Day

Every day, the analysts at Zacks Equity Research select two stocks that are likely to outperform (Bull) or underperform (Bear) the markets over the next 3-6 months.

About the Analyst Blog

Updated throughout every trading day, the Analyst Blog provides analysis from Zacks Equity Research about the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.

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Mark Vickery
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