Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Chevron, Novartis, Randgold, Urban Outfitters, Vodafone and Many More

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Stocks were initially down by a miniscule amount in early trading indications on Wednesday, but an incredibly strong ADP payrolls gain put stocks marginally higher. The markets also had edged higher in Europe after Asian markets ticked up on stronger Chinese import data.

Now that the bull market is officially eight years old, the one trend that has not changed is that investors have an appetite to buy stocks. In fact, investors have literally bought every single sell-off for more than five years. Those same investors are looking for new ideas and overlooked opportunities.

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

Some color has been added on many of the following calls, and the consensus analyst price targets referenced are from Thomson Reuters. These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Wednesday, March 8, 2017:

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) was reiterated as Buy with a $147 price target (versus a $113.17 close) at Jefferies on the heels of Chevron’s analyst day. The firm sees Chevron’s communications as in line with expectations. The firm said that the cash cycle is improving, while capex is being tightly controlled. The firm also noted that Chevron’s production growth will accelerate and that the Permian will be a key growth contributor.

Novartis A.G. (NYSE: NVS) was raised to Buy from Hold at Societe Generale. The stock closed down 1.5% at $74.37 in New York trading on Tuesday, and it was indicated down another 0.7% at $73.82 on Wednesday. These American depositary shares (ADSs) have a 52-week range of $66.93 to $83.58, and the consensus analyst price target is $91.20.

Randgold Resources Ltd. (NASDAQ: GOLD) was downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets, but the firm also has four solid gold buys with the expected interest rate hikes expected to already have been priced in.

Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) was maintained as Buy at Jefferies, but the price target was cut to $35 from $43 (versus a $25.41 prior close). Wedbush Securities maintained a Neutral rating but cut its target to $26 from $28. William Blair downgraded Urban Outfitters to Market Perform from Outperform.

Vodafone Group PLC (NASDAQ: VOD) was already rated as Buy at Goldman Sachs, but the firm added it to the prized Conviction Buy list. Vodafone’s ADSs also have a price target of $38, versus a $25.04 prior close. The 52-week range is $24.17 to $31.69, and the consensus analyst price target was $33.23.

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Other key analyst calls were seen in the following: