Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Apple, Intel, Sprint, Abercrombie, Analog and More

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It is a new year, and we actually have a few unexpected analyst upgrades and downgrades that have some real meat to them. The S&P rose almost 30% in 2013, and the DJIA was up more than 26%, so now investors have to position their portfolios for 2014 and beyond. 24/7 Wall St. reviews many Wall Street analyst research reports each morning. The goal is to find new investment ideas for our readers. Some analyst calls are of stocks to buy, and some analyst reports discuss stocks to sell. These are this Thursday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $30 price target (versus a $32.91 closing bell price) at Jefferies. The downgrade actually discusses the relevance of the brand being at risk compared to its past.

Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI) saw two negative research calls to start out the new year. The chip maker was downgraded to Sell from Neutral and the price target was cut to $41 from $43 at Goldman Sachs. Wells Fargo downgraded it to Market Perform from Outperform with a price target range of $48 to $57. Shares traded down almost 3% at $49.50 in the premarket session.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo, and the price range was put at $536 to $580 (versus a $561.02 close) for the next year. The firm believes that Apple’s margin expansion is already priced into the stock.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) was maintained as Neutral with a $20 price target (versus a $25.95 close) at Sterne Agee based upon weakening PC trends for the March quarter.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen & Co. Shares traded down more than 2% at $10.52, but keep in mind that Sprint has seen huge gains of late around merger hopes. It was interesting to see that the price target was raised to $8.25 from $7.55, but that is because this was a catch-up call. In fact, this last move above $10 was the first time that price has been seen in years.

Other standout analyst calls worth noting are as follows:

Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the price target was slashed to $7 from $12 (versus a $9.09 close) at Jefferies.

Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy and the price target was cut to $34 from $39 (versus a $32.51 close) by Goldman Sachs.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) was raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $51 price target at BMO Capital Markets.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $77 price target at BMO Capital Markets.

Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) was raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price target was raised to $52 from $45 by Goldman Sachs.

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