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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: IBM, Oracle, salesforce.com, SAP and Chevron

CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 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 International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq:ORCL), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

IBM Closes Kenexa Buy

 International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has completed the $1.3 billion acquisition of Kenexa. IBM had agreed to buy Kenexa in August 2012. Kenexa develops software that helps enterprises manage human resources ("HR"). Its HR solutions are widely popular and its strong client base consists of approximately 8,900 customers across a number of industries.

The Kenexa acquisition will further expand IBM's business analytics software offerings going forward. The acquisition is a major strategic move by IBM to bolster its position in the cloud based software-as-a-service ("SaaS") market. SaaS is a software delivery method that enables data access from any device with an Internet connection and web browser. In this web-based model, software vendors host and maintain servers, databases and codes that constitute an application.

Moreover, demand for SaaS-based products has been on the rise for some time and is expected to increase manifold because of some inherent benefits associated with the platform. Applications delivered over the SaaS platform not only allow enterprises to start using them instantly, but they are also more cost effective compared to traditional products installed at a customer's onsite data center. Software updates are also smoother.

IBM is already a leader in enterprise social software, according to IDC. Moreover, IBM's solutions cater to approximately 60% of the fortune 100 companies. We believe that the growth prospects in the SaaS segment is the primary factor attracting IT giants, such as IBM, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq:ORCL), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) and SAP AG (NYSE:SAP). Both SAP and Oracle enjoy a leading position in the SaaS-based application market based on a number of acquisitions (SuccessFactors, Ariba, RightNow, Taleo) in the recent past.

We believe that IBM's entrance into the cloud-based HR solutions market will intensify competition going forward. Although it is very difficult to predict a clear winner among these companies considering the depth of their product portfolios and diversified customer base, we believe that IBM has an advantage due to its strong balance sheet. IBM intends to spend $20 billion on acquisitions up to 2015.

Thus, we remain Neutral over the long term. Currently, IBM has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).


Chevron Unveils $36.7B Capex Budget

 U.S. energy behemoth Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) offered a glimpse of its 2013 capital spending plans. The integrated major said that it will boost its capital expenditures by about $4 billion in 2013, as the company allocates the bulk of funds toward the 'Exploration & Production' segment, while continuing to be cautious about the amount of resources it devotes to the refining business. Chevron's focus on the upstream business can be attributed to its strong portfolio of pipeline projects.

The second-largest U.S. oil company by market value has pegged its 2012 capital budget at $36.7 billion, up more than 12% from the $32.7 billion it expects to invest by the end of 2012. Of the total, roughly 90% will go toward oil and gas exploration projects worldwide, and 7% for downstream businesses.

Upstream: A major portion of the 2013 spending has been earmarked for large, multi-year developments. Chevron is planning to spend $33 billion for the exploration, production and natural gas-related projects, concentrating on the company's successful and focused drilling results in recent years, as well as for further appraisal and evaluation of other prospective areas in the world's major hydrocarbon basins. Major initiatives in 2013 are expected to consist of the Gorgon natural gas project in Australia, as well as opportunities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Angola and the Republic of Congo.

In particular, Chevron said that the cost of its majority-owned Gorgon natural gas development in Australia has jumped 40% to $52 billion because of a stronger Australian dollar, steep labor costs, infrastructure challenges and weather delays.

Downstream: Capital spending in the downstream segment is expected to be $2.7 billion in 2013, primarily assigned for improving refinery efficiency, maximizing yield and producing cleaner fuels. Downstream outlays will include projects at the company's facilities in Pascagoula (Mississippi) and Singapore.

Other: Lastly, the company is expected to spend approximately $1 billion in 2013 for technology, power generation and other corporate activities.


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