Morning Buzz: Apple (AAPL), BlackBerry (BBRY), eHealth (EHTH), Target Corp. (TGT), China Finance Online (JRJC)

Shares of iPhone maker Apple (AAPL) are fractionally higher in early trading Thursday despite a downgrade to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Buy’ at Mizuho Securities, which said risk/reward is well balanced at the stock’s current pps level. The firm’s 12-month base case estimate remains unchanged at $115.

AAPL shares recently gained $0.48 to $110.28. The stock is up more than 43.62% year-over-year and has lost roughly 0.55% year-to-date. In the past 52 weeks, shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant have traded between a low of $70.51 and a high of $119.75.

Apple closed Wednesday at $109.80. The name has a total market cap of $643.96 billion.

Shares of BlackBerry (BBRY) are down 16.55% to $10.51 in pre-market trade after Samsung and BlackBerry denied a report that they are in talks about Samsung making a takeover offer for the Canadian smartphone maker, Bloomberg reports.

The publication noted that Reuters, citing a person that it didn’t identify, reported that Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, recently offered to acquire BlackBerry with an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 a share, valuing the company at as much as $7.5 billion. Reuters also said execs from both companies met last week to discuss a transaction. BlackBerry stock shot up nearly 30% on the news to close the previous session at $12.60, its biggest gain in more than a decade.

Samsung however, called the report “groundless” and said that it does not have a plan to acquire BlackBerry. In a separate statement, BlackBerry said it “has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry.”

Despite the denial from both co.’s, we think there is more to this story. So, watch this space.

eHealth, Inc. (EHTH) is down nearly 51% in early trade, after the company pre-released disappointing 4Q’14 results. eHealth said its Q4’14 revs are expected to be in the range of $43 million to $45 million versus $52.63 million Capital IQ consensus estimate, while non-GAAP net loss EPS is expected to be in the range of ($0.56) to ($0.47) versus ($0.06) Capital IQ consensus estimate.

Stuart Huizinga, CFO of eHealth, said in a statement that “Fourth quarter revenues and earnings were impacted by a shortfall in our Individual & Family Plan sponsorship and advertising and other ancillary revenues driven by lower than expected IFP application volumes and by the timing of several million dollars of Medicare revenues which were pushed out into the first quarter of 2015.”

EHTH shares recently lost $11.13 to $9.66. In the past 52 weeks, shares of Mountain View, Calif.-based company have traded between a low of $9.66 and a high of $63.32. Shares are down 65.01% year-over-year, and 16.53% year-to-date.

eHealth, Inc. closed Wednesday at $20.80. The name has a total market cap of $173.36M.

Target Corp. (TGT) shares are surging in early trade following company’s plans to discontinue operating stores in Canada.

Target Corp, which currently has 133 stores across the country and employs 17,600 people, said Target Canada is seeking the appointment of Alvarez & Marsal Canada as Monitor in the CCAA proceedings to oversee the liquidation and wind-down process for Target Canada and its subsidiaries. Target said it would report $5.4 billion in pre-tax losses on discontinued operations in Q4.

“After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021,” CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement.

In other Target news this morning, the company declared a quarterly dividend of 52 cents per common share. The dividend is payable March 10, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business February 18, 2015. The 1st quarter dividend will be the company’s 190th consecutive dividend paid since October 1967 when the company became publicly held.

On valuation measures, Target Corp. shares are currently priced at 32.06x this year’s forecasted earnings compared to the industry’s 13.15x earnings multiple. Ticker has a PEG and forward P/E ratio of 1.94 and 19.31, respectively. Price/Sales for the same period is 0.64 while EPS is $2.38. Currently there are 8 analysts that rate TGT a ‘Buy’, 15 rate it a ‘Hold’. 2 analysts rate it a ‘Sell’. TGT has a median Wall Street price target of $72.00 with a high target of $85.00.

In the past 52 weeks, shares of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company have traded between a low of $54.66 and a high of $77.75 and are now at $76.30. Shares are up 24.32% year-over-year and 2.08% year-to-date.

China Finance Online Co., Ltd. (JRJC) shares are up more than 5% in early morning trading after the company announced a strategic partnership agreement with China International Capital Corporation Limited, which is a top global securities and investment firm from China.

JRJC shares recently gained $0.25 to $5.04. In the past 52 weeks, shares of Beijing, China-based company have traded between a low of $2.33 and a high of $11.88. Shares are down 20.83% year-over-year.

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