The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Groupon,, Google, Praxair and Air Products & Chemicals

Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:30am EST

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CHICAGO,  Dec. 27, 2012  /PRNewswire/ -- 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 includeGroupon Inc.  (Nasdaq:GRPN), Inc.  (Nasdaq:AMZN),  Google Inc.  (Nasdaq:GOOG),  Praxair Inc. 
(NYSE:PX) and  Air Products & Chemicals Inc.  (NYSE:APD).  


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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:  

Groupon Buys CommerceInterface

Online deals provider  Groupon Inc.  (Nasdaq:GRPN)  recently announced that it
has acquired  Salt Lake City  based online retail manager CommerceInterface.
However, the company did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

Founded in 2007, CommerceInterface's channel management technology helps in
aggregating goods from multiple vendors on an e-commerce platform. Since  April
2012, Groupon has been using the technology for its Groupon Goods platform,
through which merchants post sales of different items that include diamond
jewellery, designer sun glasses, mattresses, computers and many more.

The acquisition of CommerceInterface is expected to better Groupon's existing
domestic e-commerce service going forward. However, for 2013, we believe that
the primary focus will be on expanding the Groupon Goods platform in
international markets. At the end of the third quarter of 2012, Groupon Goods
reached an annual run rate of approximately  $1.5 billion  in global billings.

The company also announced that post CommerceInterface acquisition, its
technology will be solely used by Groupon. Currently, CommerceInterface serves a
number of other merchants who post their sales on different e-commerce websites
such as Inc.  (Nasdaq:AMZN).

Groupon is offering migration support to CommerceInterface's current customers,
who will have the option to shift to other vendors over the next six months. We
believe that the exclusivity of CommerceInterface technology will provide
competitive advantage to Groupon over its peers going forward.

Groupon has been on an acquisition spree over the last 12 months. The company
has acquired a number of start-ups such as Breadcrumb, Uptake, Hyperpublic,
Adku, and FeeFighters. These acquisitions are expected to boost Groupon's
position in the small and medium-size business (SMB) market, apart from
expanding its technology and product portfolio.

We believe that Groupon is well positioned to gain from rising e-commerce
spending on mobile devices, a profitable domestic market and an under-penetrated
international market. We expect these opportunities to continue to drive
top-line growth going forward.

Groupon enjoys a first-mover advantage in the daily deals market based on its
well-recognized discount coupons. However, we believe that the market is getting
more competitive due to the growing interest from technology stalwarts such as
Amazon and  Google Inc.  (Nasdaq:GOOG).

Moreover, we believe that Groupon needs to post profits consistently for the
next couple of quarters to gain the confidence of its jittery investors. Until
that happens, we prefer to remain Neutral on the stock over the long term.

Currently, Groupon has a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

Praxair Sends Helium Prices Rising

A week after announcing price increases for industrial gases-including nitrogen,
oxygen, carbon dioxide, among others-industrial gas producer and supplier, 
Praxair Inc.  (NYSE:PX) raised prices for bulk purchase of liquid helium for its

The change, which implies an increase of up to 30%, will be effective from 
January 1, 2013  for all bulk helium transactions in  Europe,  Latin America 
and  Asia. Higher raw material costs and maintenance of supply/demand balance
were the prime catalysts driving this revision.

It is also worth mentioning that recently, Praxair's prime competitor,  Air
Products & Chemicals Inc.  (NYSE:APD) announced increases in bulk and liquid
helium prices for its North American customers. The price revision will come
into effect from  January 1, 2013  and will enable Air Products to cover rising
costs to maintain supply and secure new sources for its customers.

Long-term prospects look promising for Praxair with increasing application areas
for industrial gases. Chemical processing, petroleum refining, metal production,
fabricating, electronics and health care industries are widely using these
gases. By 2015, the company targets to achieve annual organic sales growth of
8%-12%; operating profit growth of 10%-15%, and earnings growth of 12%-18%.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter stands at  $1.38,
representing a year-over-year increase of 1.8%. Estimates for years 2012 and
2013 are  $5.57  and  $6.18, reflecting annual growth of 2.5% and 11.1%,

We currently maintain a Neutral recommendation on Praxair. The stock also
currently bears a Zacks #4 Rank, implying a short-term Sell rating. Air Products
& Chemicals has a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

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