Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Abercrombie, Aqua Metals, CarMax, Oracle, Southwest Air, Valero, Walmart and More

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Stocks may have hit all-time highs again, but the market has taken a bit of a pause and is looking for direction. The drop in oil prices has soured some of the inflation hopes and that may slow a normalization of rates by the Federal Reserve. With a bull market that is over eight years old and a more than five-year trend of investors finding different reasons to buy every sell-off, investors, from individuals to institutions, are out looking for new investing and trading ideas.

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

Consensus analyst price target data are from the Thomson Reuters sell-side research service. Additional color and commentary has also been added on most of the daily analyst calls.

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls from Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) was raised to Hold from Sell at Wunderlich. Its shares fell 1.3% to $12.05 on Thursday, in a 52-week trading range of $10.50 to $23.29. The consensus analyst target price is $12.56.

Aqua Metals Inc. (NASDAQ: AQMS) was started as Buy and assigned a $25 price target (versus an $11.95 prior closing price) at Rodman & Renshaw. While this is a call to double, Aqua Metals is volatile (down 2.9% on Wednesday alone) and has a 52-week range of $8.13 to $22.75. This company has developed AquaRefining, a process for recycling lead acid batteries. Its consensus analyst target was $26.67, but it is thinly covered and has a mere $240 million market cap.

CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) closed up 0.8% at $59.74 on Wednesday, and Thursday is bringing an analyst war to the front. CarMax was raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets, but it was also downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna. CarMax has a 52-week range of $45.06 to $69.11 and a consensus analyst target of $67.81.

Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) was up 1% at $46.33 on Wednesday ahead of earnings, but the stock was indicated to open up over 11% at $51.80 on Thursday afterward. Oracle was raised to Outperform from Neutral and the price target was vaulted higher Oracle to $56 from $44 at Wedbush Securities, with the firm noting better visibility to growth ahead. Jefferies reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $60 from $52.

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) was raised to Buy from Hold at Argus. Shares closed up 1.1% at $61.03 on Wednesday and were indicated to open up 1.2% at $61.76 on Thursday. Southwest also has a consensus target price of $66.13 and a 52-week range of $35.42 to $61.37. That will mark all-time highs for Southwest Air.

Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) was raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies, with the firm noting stronger oil and finished products exports and projecting robust Gulf Coast refining margins. Jefferies raised its target price to $80 from $65, after a 1.5% drop on Wednesday to $64.68. Valero’s 52-week range is $46.88 to $71.40 and it has a consensus target price of $73.06.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) was reiterated as Buy with an $88 price target (versus a $75.54 close) at Jefferies. The firm noted that the company is well-positioned against Amazon in omnichannel food market.

Macquarie is lowering its oil forecasts, noting that the supply glut is now set to last until 2020. The firm lowered its oil targets to average about over $49 in 2018 and $52 in 2019. Over the longer term, the firm lowered its oil price average assumption to $65 from $70.

Other key analyst calls were seen as follows:

Actuant Corp. (NYSE: ATU) was raised to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays.

AvalonBay Communities Inc. (NYSE: AVB) was started as Buy with a $220 price target at Argus.

Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CNK) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Electronics for Imaging Inc. (NASDAQ: EFII) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow Research.

Magellan Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: MMP) was started as Hold with a $73 target price at Jefferies.

Spark Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: SPKE) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy after a strong run at Janney, noting the fair value of $24 on a post-split basis, versus a $22.95 prior closing price.

WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPXP) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Abbott Laboratories, Advanced Micro Devices, Chesapeake Energy, Intel, PayPal, Target, Weatherford International and Whiting Petroleum.

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