Top Oil & Gas Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Baker Hughes, Chevron, Nabors, Occidental, Shell and Many More

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This year is sure starting out in a different spot than 2016 was for the oil and gas companies within the energy sector. Oil may have sold off big on Tuesday, but NYMEX West Texas Intermediate crude has been hanging above $50 per barrel now for a month. The post-election rally has been in anticipation of many pro-business and lower regulation policies taking shape in 2017 — ditto for corporate taxes. And the Trump administration nominees for the State Department, EPA and Department of Energy are all looking favorable for the oil and gas climate.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each day of the week to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy, while others cover stocks to sell or avoid. And sometimes there are sector calls all bundled together in a single day.

Wednesday’s analyst calls were broken into two different groups because so many energy calls were issued by major firms. The general top analyst upgrades and downgrades (FULL LIST) included Abercrombie & Fitch, Altria, Anthem, United Continental, Blackstone, AMAG Pharmaceuticals and over a dozen more.

These are the top analyst upgrades and downgrades and other calls seen in the energy sector on Wednesday, January 4, 2017:

Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform but the price target was raised to $65 from $61 (versus a $65.03 prior close) at Credit Suisse. Baker Hughes is now under the GE deal, or will be upon closing, but its 52-week trading range is $37.58 to $68.59.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price objective was raised to $145 from $119 (versus a $117.85 close) at Merrill Lynch. The 52-week range is $75.33 to $119.00, and the consensus analyst price target was $119.65 prior to this call. Chevron is also a member of the 2017 Dogs of the Dow.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG) was downgraded to Underperform from Buy and the price objective was cut to $21 from $27 (versus a $22.34 close) at Merrill Lynch.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $125 price objective at Merrill Lynch.

HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) was raised to Buy from Hold and the price target was raised to $38 from $30 (versus a $33.57 close) at Deutsche Bank.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $63 from $55 (versus a $52.93 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm noted that a faster drop down accelerates its potential toward a medium-term sum of the parts analysis of $80, handily above its formal price target.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE: NBR) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $21 price target (versus a $16.81 close) at Credit Suisse.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch. The firm noted that this was reflecting a pull on cash from a disproportionately large dividend that is likely a headwind to relative performance in a rising price environment.

Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: PTEN) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Precision Drilling Corp. (NYSE: PDS) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) was raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets.

Southwestern Energy Co. (NYSE: SWN) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral and the price objective was cut to $9 from $16 at Merrill Lynch.

Superior Energy Services Inc. (NYSE: SPN) was raised to Outperform from Neutral and the price target was raised to $21 from $15 (versus a $17.56 close) at Credit Suisse.

U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SLCA) was removed from Credit Suisse’s U.S. Focus List for the start 2017.

Stifel has also released its select list of top MLP picks for 2017.