Earnings season is coming on strong, and analysts are still making many changes to their 2014 outlooks. At the same time, investors are still looking to better position their portfolios for 2014. Each morning, 24/7 Wall St. reviews many Wall Street analyst research reports, looking for new ideas of stocks to buy and for stocks to sell. These are this Thursday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) had so-so earnings and the stock is now under activist pressure from Carl Icahn. We have seen two downgrades so far, even though the shares are higher: to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus and to Neutral from Positive by Susquehanna. Canaccord Genuity said the risk is out of it, and raised its price target to $64 from $60. Credit Suisse raised its price target to $62 from $55.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) was raised to Buy from Hold and the price target was raised to $40 from $32 at Deutsche Bank. The negative PC sentiment was believed to be priced into the stock, and the segment is even showing some signs of life again. The firm also thinks its enterprise software business is not recognized in the value.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) has dual upgrades on Thursday. The railroad giant was raised to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It also was raised to Overweight from Neutral at J.P. Morgan. Credit Suisse raised its price target to $104 from $101 as well. Keep in mind that the stock was up almost 5% on Wednesday, hitting an all-time high of $94.75.
Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) was raised to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, just a day after the stock was downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.
Other Key Analyst Calls
Allegheny Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ATI) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, but Sterne Agee maintained an Underperform rating, cutting its estimates and keeping its $27 price target.
American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with an $18 price target (versus a $14.31 close) at Stifel Nicolaus.
Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $160 at Canaccord Genuity.
Centene Corp. (NYSE: CNC) was started as Outperform with a $72 price target at Credit Suisse, although it says the prior rating had been Neutral with a $70 price target.
F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital Markets, but it was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Nomura as well.
Five Below Inc. (NASDAQ: FIVE) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.
Genpact Ltd. (NYSE: G) was downgraded to Sell from an already cautious Neutral rating with a $15 price target (versus a $17.45 close) at Goldman Sachs.
Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.
Texas Capital Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: TCBI) was cut to Neutral from Buy with a $65 price target at Sterne Agee.
Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) was downgraded, but it is still rated positively with an Outperform rating and a $63 price target, from a prior Strong Buy rating, at Raymond James.