Analyst calls are sometimes favorable and sometimes off the mark. Still, analysts move stocks and often offer keen insight not seen elsewhere. Each week we review the major analyst calls for those standout research calls that were above the pack or are outside of the pack and which moved the shares. Some calls are praise, some are critical. We identified what we consider to be the top six grouped analyst calls of the week in Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), and Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU), Molycorp, Inc. (NYSE: MCP). That is only four calls, but the fifth call was a Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) versus Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) call. The sixth and ‘final-top analyst call’ around oil could end up having a profound impact on the United States Oil (NYSE: USO), ProShares Ultra Oil & Gas (NYSE: DIG), and PowerShares DB Crude Oil Double Short ETN (NYSE: DTO).
In each call we have given some basic data on the rating and followed up with the relative pricing data before and after the call, and then we have followed up with individual color on each where applicable.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) got a big boost on Friday after Citigroup said that weak January and February notebook sales should turn around in March after DRAM makers said that prices had bottomed. Citigroup sees second quarter inventory building for 10% to 15% growth from the first quarter as inventories had been worked down while a recovery comes in Europe. Shares closed up 2.7% at $21.87 on Friday after having challenged $21.00 on Wednesday and the close from the week before was $22.14. All in all a rescue call in what should have otherwise been a bad week.
F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) managed a strong week considering its last fall from grace after earnings that took out its mojo. Shares were raised to Outperform at BMO on Friday and Raised to Strong Buy at S&P Equity Research on Thursday. For what was such a tough week in the market, shares closed out up 2.65% at $120.18 versus a close on Tuesday of $115.11 and a close on Wednesday of $111.99. Two upgrades after a large drop and a large recovery made this one impossible to ignore even if it was more than one call driving shares higher.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) had a rough week as the market slid and the move really hit some of the big momentum stocks. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch cut shares down to “Underperform” from “Neutral” based upon price and valuation. After all, it trades at close to 36-times BofA’s 2012 earnings estimates. After near 200% gains, this call is no shock even if lululemon does still have significant growth opportunity ahead of itself. Shares closed out last Friday at $82.12 and shares closed out Friday at $76.83.