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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: IBM, Amazon.com, Apple, Google and Facebook

CHICAGO, Jan. 6, 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 IBM (NYSE:IBM-Free Report), Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report), Google (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) and Facebook (Nasdaq:FB-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Online Retail Sales Up in Q4

Online retail sales improved 10.3% on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to IBM's (NYSE:IBM-Free Report) latest Digital Analytics report. The report tracks approximately 800 e-Commerce websites in the United States.

Department stores were the biggest gainers during the three-month period. Online sales jumped 62.8% year over year as compared with 46.4% for home goods retailers, 14.7% for health beauty and 10.2% for apparel.

As per the report, online sales increased 19.7% year over year on Thanksgiving, 19.0% on Black Friday and 20.6% on Cyber Monday. The strong Cyber Monday sales figure reflects U.S. consumers' growing appetite for online deals and promotions from e-Commerce providers such as Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN-Free Report).

As per the latest IBM report, mobile sales were more than 16.6% of total online sales, an increase of 46.0% year over year. This was slightly higher than 16.0% growth forecasted by market research firm eMarketer. Mobile traffic surged 40.0% from the year-ago period to 35.0% of all online traffic.

Smartphones lead the traffic growth (21.3%, up from 12.8% in the year-ago quarter) comfortably beating the traffic generated by tablets. However, tablets accounted for 11.5% of all online sales, much higher than 5.0% of sales done through smartphones. Tablet users spent $118.09 per order compared to $104.72 spent by smartphone users.

Traffic from Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL-Free Report) iOS devices were 22.1% of all online traffic compared with 10.6% of Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG-Free Report) Android users. Sales through iOS devices were 12.7% of all online sales compared to 2.6% for Android.

Among the social networks generating online sales, Pinterest users purchased ($109.93) more on an average compared with Facebook (Nasdaq:FB-Free Report) users ($60.48). However, Facebook referrals converted to sales 3.5 times more than Pinterest referrals. According to IBM, this was due to Facebook's dominant position as the more established social network.

E-Commerce continues to flourish, particularly driven by continuing adoption of smartphones and tablets. eMarketer estimates retail m-Commerce sales of $41.68 billion in 2013. The market research firm forecasts that by 2017, retail m-Commerce sales will be more than $100.0 billion.

We believe e-Commerce firms such as Amazon and Groupon will continue to benefit from this trend over the long term. Currently, Amazon has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Groupon carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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