Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Chesapeake Energy, JPMorgan, Melco Crown, Navistar, Randgold, Silver Wheaton, Verifone and More

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Stocks were weak on Friday after closing lower on Thursday’s post-ECB let-down. Even if valuations are high and even if the Federal Reserve keeps jawboning about raising interest rates, what has held true is that investors want to buy stocks after every market sell-off. Investors remain very opportunistic, and they keep looking for new ideas to generate income or gains ahead.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning in an effort to find new investing and trading ideas. Some analyst research reports cover stocks to buy, and some reports feature stocks to sell or to avoid.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Friday morning:

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $10 price target (versus a $7.74 prior close) at Wunderlich. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $1.50 to $9.55. Ongoing cost cutting has given shares a boost lately.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform with a $70 price target (versus a $67.25 close) at Macquarie. It has a 52-week range of $52.50 to $69.03 and a consensus analyst price target of $69.80.

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (NASDAQ: MPEL) was raised to Buy from Hold and the price target was raised to $17 from $14 (versus a $15.17 close) at Deutsche Bank. The 52-week range is $11.91 to $20.23.

Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) was raised to Neutral from Sell with a $20 price target (versus a $19.12 close) at Goldman Sachs. It has a 52-week range of $5.78 to $23.45 and a consensus price target of $13.42.

Randgold Resources Ltd. (NASDAQ: GOLD) was raised to Buy from Neutral at UBS. Shares closed at $101.51 the prior day, in a 52-week range of $54.88 to $126.55. The consensus price target is $116.37.

Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $37 price target (versus a $28.90 close) at Deutsche Bank. It has a 52-week range of $10.04 to $31.35 and a consensus price target of $35.03.

Verifone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) was given a pretty controversial call, considering how much its shares dropped after earnings. It was started with a Buy rating and was assigned a price target of $21 (versus a $17.18 close) at BTIG. The consensus price target is now down at $20.81, and the 52-week range is $16.07 to $31.24.

Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades were seen as follows:

AU Optronics Corp. (NYSE: AUO) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with a $4 price target (versus a $3.81 close) at Bernstein.

CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy but the price target was raised to $63 from $59 (versus a $60.17 close) at Buckingham Research.

Changyou.com Ltd. (NASDAQ: CYOU) was started with a Buy rating and was given a $31 price target (versus $a 25.02 close) at Deutsche Bank.

Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) was lowered shares from Overweight to Sector Weight at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus, but a firm named Berenberg has started it with a Buy rating.

Ellie Mae Inc. (NYSE: ELLI) was started as Overweight with a $118 price target (versus a $98.50 close) at JPMorgan.

Finisar Corp. (NASDAQ: FNSR) was last seen trading up 16% at $27.00, versus a $23.69 close after strong earnings and guidance. It was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at William Blair, and MKM Partners raised its rating to Buy from Neutral.

Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE: IR) was downgraded to Sector Weight from Overweight at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE: NVO) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

Thursday’s top analyst calls included Apple, Callon Petroleum, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lululemon Athletica, Nike, Rio Tinto and a dozen more.

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