Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Arrowhead Pharma, Cognizant, Goldman Sachs, HP, Splunk, UnitedHealth and More

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Monday’s small stock market sell-off was followed by small gains on Tuesday, and the markets were indicated higher on Wednesday morning before the opening bell. This week we have seen stronger GDP revisions and stronger consumer confidence in the United States, and now we have the highest euro area inflation (just 0.6%) seen in two years. Investors have proven at every opportunity that they will buy stocks on any real pullbacks, and those same investors are also looking for new ideas to generate gains or income.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each day of the week to find new investing and trading ideas for its readers. Some of these analyst research reports cover stocks to buy, and other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid.

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

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARWR) just imploded, as shares are down a whopping 61% at $1.70 after a $4.39 close on news that it is halting some core drug development to focuses its resources on subcutaneous and extra-hepatic RNAi therapeutics. The stock was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor Fitzgerald and to Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH) was reiterated as Buy with a $63 price target (versus a $55.63 prior close) at Jefferies. The call is after Elliott took a 4% stake and is calling with a plan for Cognizant to get to $80 to $90 per share, which Jefferies feels is too optimistic but should still put in a floor.

Conagra Brands Inc. (NYSE: CAG) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was reintroduced as $43 (versus a $37.72 close). The old target was $56, prior to its LW spin-off. The 52-week trading range is $29.55 to $38.02. and the consensus analyst price target is $43.06.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) was raised to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank, but the big part of this call is the price target being raised to $255 from $180 (versus a $211.75 close). Shares have a 52-week range of $138.20 to $213.41, and the stock had a consensus target price of $194.50 prior to the call. What should stand out is that the highest price target was $240 before this.

HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) was reiterated as Buy with a $19 price target (versus a $15.15 close) at Argus. The 52-week range is $8.91 to $16.19, and the consensus price target is $16.27. The firm noted that HP shares sold off after management issued below consensus guidance for its first quarter, despite a turnaround in formerly troubled core markets. Argus believes that HP is managing through secular transitions and cyclical challenges while also boosting margins at an impressive pace.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) was last trading up 6.5% at $61.10 after another strong quarterly report. The stock was reiterated as Outperform at Wedbush Securities and the price target was raised to $75 from $72 (versus a $57.38 close). Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price objective to $88 from $67. Splunk has a 52-week range of $29.85 to $65.75 and a consensus price target of $69.57.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $178 price target (versus a $157.59 close) at Mizuho. Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its price target to $179 from $168. The 52-week range is $107.51 to $158.12. The consensus analyst target is $164.05.

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Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades seen on Wednesday were in shares of the following companies: