Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Ariad, Hecla, HP, Micron and More

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Earnings season has officially started, but the stock market and bond market are both dealing with the government shutdown, an upcoming debt ceiling and even the announcement of a new Fed chair. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research each morning to find new ideas for our readers. Some ideas are stocks to buy and some are stocks to sell or to avoid. These are this Thursday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

ADTRAN Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN) was raised to Buy from Hold at Needham.

Aixtron SE (NASDAQ: AIXG) was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral by HSBC.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIA) was crushed on Wednesday after disclosing an FDA hold. This biotech was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus, to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays, to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup, to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities, and it likely has been downgraded by all other analysts following the stock.

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FNFG) was started as Outperform with a $12 price target at RBC Capital Markets.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was maintained as Underperform with a $34 price target at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, based on the low impact of a recent sale announcement of its Mesa facility.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE: GSK) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) was started as Buy, along with a $4 price target, at Roth Capital.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) was raised to Neutral from Underperform with a $22 price target at Mizuho Securities and raised to Sector Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) was reiterated as Buy, but the price target was raised from $18 to $20.50, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch based on a better outlook from industry supply constraints.

Shire PLC (NASDAQ: SHPG) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) was raised to Buy from Neutral with an $86 price target at Sterne Agee.

Credit Suisse has a cautious take on gold, based on shifts in the physical gold market. It said:

We continue to believe that once the debt ceiling issue has been resolved in the US (and we do still expect some kind of resolution) that gold will resume a downward trend. The US fiscal problems have somewhat overshadowed what we think has the potential to become a significant shift in the structure of the Indian physical market.

There are some concerns out there that high-yield MLPs may have to cut their dividends (distributions).

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