Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Blackstone, Ciena, Merck, Tempur Sealy, Universal Display and More

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Stocks were mixed on Wednesday after a mixed Tuesday. Efforts to straighten up after Hurricane Harvey have brought firms making predictions on industries and sectors, but it is important to remember that the major stock indexes remain close to all-time highs and that investors have managed to keep finding new reasons to buy stocks after every sell-off. Many investors are also hunting for new investing and trading ideas to generate gains and income.

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

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

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls from Wednesday, August 30, 2017.

Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) was maintained as Outperform but the price target was lowered to $45 from $46 (versus a $31.94 prior close) at Credit Suisse. The firm noted that its outperform thesis is unchanged despite adjusting estimates and rolling out earnings views to 2020. Blackstone has a 52-week trading range of $23.33 to $35.09 and a consensus analyst price target of $38.77.

Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $29 price target (versus a $23.87 close) at Citigroup. Ciena has a 52-week range of $18.94 to $27.98 and a consensus price target of $30.82.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) was maintained as Outperform but the price target was lowered to $74 from $75 at Credit Suisse. The firm noted that ESC Data reveals limited opportunity for Anacetrapib. Merck has a 52-week range of $58.29 to $66.80 and a consensus target price of $69.90.

Tempur Sealy International Inc. (NYSE: TPX) was reiterated as Buy and the price objective was raised to $85 from $75 (versus a $60.27 close) at Merrill Lynch, with the firm seeing large upside to street consensus estimates and that it doesn’t need to return to peak-margins to hit its target. Tempur Sealy has a 52-week range of $39.57 to $82.32.

Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ: PANL) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $135 price target (versus a $111.10 close) at Deutsche Bank. It has a 52-week range of $47.88 to $130.65, and the consensus target price is $133.67.

Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico often cause higher pops in the price of oil, but Goldman Sachs has predicted that Hurricane Harvey’s impact is likely a net bearish event for oil. The firm noted that the production recovery has already begun and it estimates that an initial¬†one-month loss of oil demand is likely to exceed 700,000 barrels per day.

Credit Suisse also has released a view of the property and casualty insurance market after Hurricane Harvey, showing that the losses point to an elevated cat year but they are unlikely to reverse pricing trends. The firm believes that the private insurance market is likely to have a disproportionately small share of whatever that loss may be.

Stifel sees four big companies winning from cleanup and recovery efforts after Harvey in Houston and in the Gulf Coast area that was hit.

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Other key analyst calls were seen in the following: