Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades (BCS, BHP, GME, GOOG, GRPN, HD, LOW, MA, V, NKE, OPEN, TLM, TSLA, UNH, PAY, OMX, ODP)

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These are some of this Thursday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades, and initiations seen from Wall Street research calls.

Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) raised to Outperform at Bernstein.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE: BHP) cut to Neutral at Citigroup.

GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) maintained Outperform with $29 target at Credit Suisse, but firm gave cautious commentary on new console benefits.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) raised target to $1,000 from $820 by Bernstein, but we would count this as a late Wednesday call.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) raised to Overweight from Neutral and price target raised to $8.00 from $5.50 by Piper Jaffray.

The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) were both downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.

MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) were both upgraded to Neutral from Sell by UBS.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) raised to Buy at Citigroup.

OpenTable Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN) cut to Market Perform at Raymond James.

Talisman Energy Inc. (NYSE: TLM) raised to Outperform and $16 target price by Credit Suisse.

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) cut to Underperform from Neutral at BofA/Merrill Lynch.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) raised to Outperform at Oppenheimer.

VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) cut to Neutral at J.P. Morgan, cut to Outperform at Raymond James, cut to Neutral at Citigroup, cut to Neutral at Piper Jaffray and cut to Neutral at SunTrust.

Analysts differ sharply on the proposed OfficeMax (NYSE: OMX) and Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) merger. Janney downgraded both stocks to Neutral from Buy. Credit Suisse opines:

Both ODP and OMX were down significantly on the heels of their merger announcement, which we believe reflects the lack of a clear vision to a combined company, the absence of any discussion of retail synergies, concerns over the extended timing to both close and obtain the synergies, and profit taking after a healthy run-up year-to-date in anticipation of this announcement. We believe that there is value in the combined company and in this note we detail first why management did not provide the vision but also why we believe the math works.

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