24/7 Wall St. Top Analyst Calls of the Week (ALU, AMZN, AAPL, CSCO, CSC, CXW, DF, EPD, GNW, GMCR, GRPN, HD, MPEL, PIR, SRDX, TEVA, VRTX, YRCW, ALIM)

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Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) has only been public a week and the huge underwriting group has another month and change before any of those analysts can initiate coverage of the daily-deals leader.  A boutique called Benchmark is not bound by any quiet period and that firm issued a “Buy” rating with a $32.00 [price target on Groupon this week.

The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is in retail that covers the housing and home improvement market.  Neither segment is expected to flourish compared to the past, at least for a while.  So it was a surprise to see Home Depot raised to "Outperform" at RBC Capital Markets and taking the price target to $42 from $38 on this last Monday. Shares rose about 4% this last week to $38.06 and its 52-week range is $28.13 to $39.38.  Keep in mind that this was a week ahead of Home Depot's earnings so the analyst is not expecting a lame report.

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MPEL) is back under $10.00 and analysts seem to have lost some zeal that they previously had.  In some ways, this feels oversold.  In others, it still feels expensive.  Melco Crown was maintained as Neutral at J.P. Morgan but the target was cut to $14 on the stock.  Morningstar called it an attractive entry point.

Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is a retail stock that looks and feels like it is a constant turnaround mode,  Despite the stock actually being extremely close to 52-week highs ($13.30 versus a range of $8.60 to $13.68), Wells Fargo came out and started coverage on the retailer with an "Outperform" rating and price target range of $14 to $16 for the stock and shares rose close to 3% this last week.

SurModics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRDX) is a small molecule delivery player which has seen its share of ups and downs over time. The company got past earnings the week before and the volume is rather light on this name.  That made it a surprise to see it named as an Aggressive Growth Pick at Zacks on Thursday, and it was actually up about 5.5% on Friday to $11.98 against a 52-week trading range of $8.29 to $15.50.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ: TEVA) is so far out of favor now with analysts that many investors are spooked by the name.  We believe the stock has been sold off to where it is valued almost entirely based on its generic drug business because its name-brand pharmaceutical studies have run into headwinds (to put it mildly).  This last Thursday brought a call from Credit Suisse where the firm reinstated coverage as "Outperform" with a $53.00 price target and this was after the company just raised $5 billion in a debt offering.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX) had a rough week after its "positive Phase II results" in a hepatitis C study were panned by the street.  Downgrades were issued by RBC to Sector Perform on Monday, and then on Tuesday it was downgraded to Neutral at R.W. Baird and also downgraded to Market Perform at JMP Securities.  Shares closed down 14% for the week, but the stock did get a recovery after Morgan Stanley said "enough is enough" and raised the rating from a very negative "Underweight" to a less-negative "Equal-Weight" rating.  It may not sound like much, but that was after three downgrades.

YRC Worldwide. Inc. (NASDAQ: YRCW) is a stock which 24/7 Wall St. does not even really consider a real stock anymore.  One reverse split, maybe... But TWO?  Come on.  This pig of a trucking company was maintained as Underperform and its target was cut to $0.05 at Credit Suisse this last week.  Another call from Zacks was also maintained as a "Neutral" with a "losing share" bend to it.  If you want to question a stock's right to existence, YRC is one where you could easily start.

Alimera Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALIM) imploded on Friday, and here is our take on its future at BioHealthInvestor.com.

JON C. OGG

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