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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple , Microsoft, Nokia , Tiffany and Boston Scientific

CHICAGO, Aug. 28, 2012 /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 Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Taking Bernanke's Temperature

With the economic calendar relatively on the quiet side this week, attention will be on Ben Bernanke as the Fed's annual Jackson Hole meeting gets underway. The market will be looking for clues in Bernanke's speech this Friday about another round of bond purchases, setting the stage the stage for the September 12/13 FOMC meeting. Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, will also be at Jackson Hole and his speech on Saturday also be closely watched.

Investors are justifiably ambivalent about the odds of more QE at next month's Fed meeting. Minutes of the last meeting appeared to show support for more monetary accommodation. But the economic ground realities at the time of that FOMC meeting on July 31/August 1 were somewhat different from what transpired afterwards. While most economic indicators are still no different now than how they have been in the last few months, but the monthly retail sales and jobs data did show some signs of renewed health.

This has raised doubts in investors' minds that the Fed may not come through after all. It is this backdrop that has put the spotlight on Bernanke's speech next Friday at the Fed's annual Jackson Hole meeting. The expectation is that Bernanke's speech on Friday will provide more color on the Fed's latest thinking about the economy, which will help set expectations for next month's FOMC meeting. The Fed's Beige Book report on Wednesday will also be relevant to this discussion.

Beyond a temporary psychological boost, I am not convinced of the relevance of more Fed support to the U.S. economy. Broad measures of liquidity and interest rates already remain quite favorable, limiting the effectiveness of more easing measures. As such, more QE would do little more than provide a short-term psychological high to the market.

In corporate news, investors will be handicapping the impact of Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL) patent victory over Samsung in the smart-phone market. In addition to the obvious positive boost to Apple, the development may be beneficial to Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) and Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) market shares. On the earnings front, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) missed earnings and revenue expectations and guided lower.

Expanded Use for BSX's Watchman

With the CE Mark approval based on the results from the ASAP (ASA Plavix) study,  Boston Scientific's (NYSE:BSX) Watchman Left Atrial Appendage ("LAA") Closure Device can now be used to treat an expanded patient population. Subsequently, patients with atrial fibrillation ("AF") who are at high risk of stroke and cannot take anticoagulant therapy would benefit from this recent approval.

AF, affecting approximately 15 million people globally, disrupts the ability of the heart to beat regularly and pump blood efficiently. Watchman is introduced into the heart via a flexible catheter to close off the LAA and capture any clots formed in the appendage. This reduces the risk of stroke and thereby eliminates the need for long-term use of blood thinning medications.

In another development, the European Society of Cardiology included LAA closure devices in the revised Guidelines for Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation.  This was based on favorable data from the PROTECT AF trial, which demonstrated that the Watchman device was non-inferior to warfarin and resulted in a 38% relative risk reduction for stroke, cardiovascular death and systemic embolism compared to long-term warfarin therapy. Besides, the ASAP Registry demonstrated a 77% reduction for ischemic stroke in patients contraindicated to warfarin.

The Watchman device was inducted in Boston Scientific's portfolio following the acquisition of Atritech in March 2011. While the device is approved in Europe since 2005 and in some Asian countries since 2009, the company is yet to receive approval in the US. Boston Scientific has completed enrollment in the PREVAIL study, a confirmatory study to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. The company is looking at receiving approval in fiscal 2013.

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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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