Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Charles Schwab, Merck, Nokia, Viacom, Waste Management, Windstream and More

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Stocks were indicated to open lower on Thursday, making the daily and weekly market trends looking lower. It is important to remember that stocks are still pretty close to all-time highs, and investors have not backed down from high valuations. Investors have also bought almost every sell-off in the market time after time. Those same investors are also looking for new ideas to generate gains or income ahead.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning. The goal is to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers. 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 Thursday morning:

Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $38 price objective at Merrill Lynch. It has a 52-week trading range of $21.51 to $34.52 and a consensus analyst price target of $33.85.

Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price objective was raised to $70 from $57 at Merrill Lynch. It has a 52-week range of $47.97 to $64.86 and a consensus price target of $66.47.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) was maintained as Outperform and the euro target implies 46% upside still remaining. This call is after the huge drop seen in Ericsson, and Credit Suisse says those woes may have been company specific. Nokia closed down 5.6% at $5.09 on Wednesday after the Ericsson drop, with a 52-week range of $5.01 to $7.63 and a consensus target price of $6.93.

Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) was raised to Buy from Underperform with a new $44 price objective at Merrill Lynch. The 52-week range is $30.11 to $53.35, and the consensus price target is $43.78.

Windstream Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: WIN) was started with a Market Perform rating and assigned a $9.00 price target (versus an $8.36 close) at Cowen. Its 52-week range is $4.75 to $10.46.  As a reminder, Windstream has that 7% yield.

Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform and the price target was cut to $68 from $73 at Wedbush Securities. The firm thinks that the valuation has now outrun the fundamentals and that the rate of volume growth is likely peaking. The 52-week range is $50.36 to $70.50.

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Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades from this Thursday were seen as follows: