For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 19, 2010 – Zacks Equity Research highlights Honda Motor Company (HMC) as the Bull of the Day and Amerisafe Inc. (AMSF) the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Louisiana Pacific (LPX), Fortune Brands (FO) and Darden (DRI).

Full analysis of all these stocks is available at

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Honda Motor Company (HMC) is expanding its business in Asia, growing its global network to increase efficiency and introducing new products to satisfy local markets. Furthermore, its capacity expansion across the world inspires optimism about Honda’s future prospects.

Despite unfavorable currency exchange rates and flat-to-lower sales in key markets such as North America and Europe, Honda reported an eye-popping 565.1% rise in profits to ?134.6 billion ($1.5 billion) for the third quarter of its fiscal 2010, driven by lower SG&A and R&D expenses and cost reduction efforts.

Furthermore, the company’s financial position has improved significantly. We, therefore, upgrade our recommendation on the stock from Neutral to Outperform with a target price of $42.

Bear of the Day:

Given the critical sustainability factor in the current sluggish economic recovery, we have downgraded Amerisafe Inc. (AMSF) to Underperform. The company’s fourth quarter earnings were substantially lower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

The downside was primarily a result of a year-over-year decrease in the top line due to the soft insurance market as a whole and an increase in expenses. Also, the combined ratio and operating ROE significantly deteriorated from the year-ago quarter.

Though the pricing environment is now improving somewhat, the company is expected to face an uncertainty for the next few quarters as the market weakness continues to hurt payrolls.

Latest Posts on the Zacks Analyst Blog:

Housing Starts and Permits Rise

On balance at this point, I will take a rise in housing starts as being a positive for the economy, but I reserve the right to change my mind if the new home sales data disappoints next week.

Residential investment is a huge swing factor in the economy. Each new home generates a lot of economic activity. Not just the carpenters and plumbers who put it together, but it also generates jobs for lumberjacks working for Louisiana Pacific (LPX), for people making plumbing fixtures working for Fortune Brands (FO).

Those people then go out and spend their money, perhaps eating at the local Olive Garden — part of Darden (DRI) — and generating jobs for the cooks and waiters there. Those jobs will then start to re-stimulate household formation and create some demand for housing. After all nothing will get the kids out of living in the basement after college faster than a steady job so they can afford to have a place of their own.

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.

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 analyst 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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