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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Microsoft, Apple, Google, Intel and Yahoo

CHICAGO, March 25, 2014 /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 the Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), Google (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report), Intel (Nasdaq:INTC-Free Report) and Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO-Free Report).

Zacks Investment Research, Inc., www.zacks.com

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Technology Stock Roundup

Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report) stole the show last week, soaring to multi-year highs.

Microsoft Rewarded for Taking the Plunge

Microsoft shares touched multi-year highs as investors cheered rumors that the company would launch Office for the iPad. Several news agencies are reporting that Microsoft is likely to make such an announcement (maybe as early as this week).

Microsoft's Office remains the preferred productivity suite at enterprises, but the growing popularity of the BYOD model has resulted in an increasing number of tablets entering the workplace. Microsoft's Windows OS has next to no position in the tablet market so it attempted to leverage the demand for Office to force customers to use Windows-based devices. This in fact forced users to opt for competing products from Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) and Google (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) when they didn't want to make the trade-off. With both Google and Apple offering their productivity suites for free, things started worsening for Microsoft.

 In all probability, Microsoft has hit an inflection point beyond which the strategy would not just be expensive but also risky. No one wants people to get used to free software when they would rather sell it. This is what likely drove the decision to take Office to the iPad.

While a positive from the point of view of Office, the need to make the business independent of Windows doesn't look so good for the latter. But investors appear to be ignoring Windows for now as they have already punished the shares for its continued decline.

Intel Has Big Plans for Desktops in 2014

Intel (Nasdaq:INTC-Free Report) made some interesting announcements at the Game Developers' Conference last week. The company showed renewed focus on the desktop, which may be seen as an attempt to protect and grow share in a decidedly unfavorable market.

Not only is it making the generation 5 Core processor Broadwell available as a socket for desktops, but it is also adding Iris Pro graphics (Broadwell is a Haswell shrink that along with Iris Pro was previously expected to be limited to mobile platforms). That's not all, Intel will also sell a few unlocked versions of Broadwell to facilitate overclocking. Intel generally doesn't allow overclocking because the increased performance drives up the heat that its heat dissipating mechanisms aren't able to handle.

All that's about to change, however. Intel's new thermal material and packaging will be showcased in Devil's Canyon, a special version of Haswell that Intel also announced. The product could be launched as early as June this year.

Motherboards will also see a makeover with the new series 9 chipset (Haswell-E), including the first 8 core processor supporting DDR4 memory.

The Pentium Anniversary Edition was also announced as a relatively low-end unlocked chip with Quick Sync video recording.

Intel also has plans for all-in-one devices for the home, so the year should be pretty exciting. No wonder the shares popped.

Alibaba IPO: Good for Yahoo

Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO-Free Report) shares rose nearly 4% on news regarding the Alibaba IPO, but declined sharply thereafter as both investors and analysts got cautious about the core business. It's true that the core business hasn't done too well in the last few quarters, but the trend appears to be reversing gradually. Price declines have been a factor affecting the entire industry, so what makes Yahoo weaker is not price but volumes.

While Google was able to record significant volume increases at the cost of lower prices, Yahoo's volumes have not responded similarly. But since Mayer has given herself three years for a turnaround, maybe we shouldn't get too pessimistic just yet.

So what does the Alibaba IPO mean for Yahoo shareholders? Yahoo has a 24% stake in the company and will have to sell off 40% following the IPO. No one knows how much will be generated, but the balance sheet should be boosted nicely  and shareholders should still make a tidy sum since Yahoo is expected to collect at least $7 billion after taxes. It can hang on to the rest and wait for prices to go up.

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