Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Tesla, Verizon, VIVUS and More

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Stocks are hitting new highs again as earnings season winds down, and now investors have to make careful considerations about how to position their portfolios. No one wants to knowingly buy at the top, and no one wants to get caught in another sharp sell-off right after they buy. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research reports each morning for new ideas, some of which are stocks to buy and some are stocks to sell. These are this Tuesday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) was given a huge boost in its price target. Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating, but the firm raised the price target all the way up to $320 from just $153.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was reinstated as Overweight with a $57 price target at J.P. Morgan after the telecom’s business update. Credit Suisse maintained its Neutral rating and cut the target price to $52 from $53.

VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is getting hit hard after supposedly beating earnings with a narrower loss. Qsymia prescriptions grew about 12% sequentially, and now we have seen two downgrades — Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut the Neutral rating to Underperform and J.P. Morgan cut its Overweight rating to Neutral. This is going to make its chances of doubling in 2014 significantly harder to achieve.

Other Key Analyst Calls

Cara Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CARA) saw its quiet period end and new coverage was initiated — as Buy at Canaccord Genuity and at Janney, and as Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) was started as Buy with a $40 target price (versus a $32.45 close) at Stifel Nicolaus.

HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE: HBC) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup, and the opinion is that earnings estimates will be coming down for 2014 as well. Citigroup even thinks its dividend is ambitious.

Intrawest Resorts Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SNOW) saw its quiet period end with new coverage calls — started as Neutral at Goldman Sachs, as Hold at Deutsche Bank and as Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) was raised to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Malibu Boats Inc. (NASDAQ: MBUU) saw its quiet period end — started as Outperform at BMO, as Buy at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and as Outperform at Wells Fargo.

New Home Company LLC (NYSE: NWHM) saw its quiet period come to an end as well — started as Overweight at J.P. Morgan, as Buy at Citigroup and as Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral with a price target of $10 (versus a $15.22 closing price) at Goldman Sachs.

Royal Gold Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) was downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at CIBC.

United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) was started as Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.