Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Ardelyx, Juniper, Kroger, Phillips 66, Square, Transocean, Walmart and Many More

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Stocks were indicated to open marginally lower on Thursday morning, but investors know the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are right by their all-time highs and that the market has been quite strong all year. The trend that has simply refused to budge for at least five of this eight-and-a-half-year old bull market is that investors managing to keep finding new reasons to buy stocks immediately after every market sell-off. Investors are also on the hunt for new investing and trading ideas with their capital.

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

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

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls from Thursday, October 12, 2017.

Ardelyx Inc. (NASDAQ: ARDX) is soaring after positive drug study results on its irritable bowel syndrome with constipation treatment were positive. Its shares were up 42% at $7.70 on Thursday morning, in a 52-week trading range of $4.05 to $16.30. Ardelyx saw Ladenburg Thalmann raise its price target to $19 from $16.50 and Cantor Fitzgerald raise its target to $14 from $12. Both firms cited tenapanor results in its second late-stage trial.

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) was down 1.6% to $26.86 before it issued a revenue warning, and shares were indicated down another 6% at $25.25 on Thursday. It was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $27 price target at Instinet. UBS maintained its Neutral rating but cut its target to $28 from $30. This is after disappointing earnings guidance, but it was also worth pointing out that just a day earlier Merrill Lynch downgraded Juniper to Neutral from Buy with a $31 price objective. Juniper has a 52-week range of $22.41 to $30.96 and a consensus analyst price target of $30.64.

Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) was raised to Equal Weight from Underweight with a $20 price target (versus a $20.78 prior close) at Stephens. It has a 52-week range of $19.69 to $36.44 and a consensus price target of $22.91.

Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, but the firm raised its target price to $108 from $96 (versus a $93.68 close) on the heels of its newly announced $3 billion buyback program. The 52-week range is $75.14 to $94.69, and the consensus price target is $92.81.

Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ) was started as Outperform and assigned a $35 price target at Oppenheimer. Square closed at $32.00 on Thursday and was indicated up 1.3% at $32.42 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $10.88 to $32.00. Square has a consensus price target of $28.68.

Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $14 price target at Citigroup. It had just been started as Buy with a $13 target at Deutsche Bank two days earlier. The shares have a 52-week range of $7.20 to $16.66 and a consensus price target of $11.13. They closed up 0.86% at $10.61 on Wednesday and were indicated up another 1% at $10.72 on Thursday morning.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) was maintained as a Buy with a $91 price target at Goldman Sachs, but the retail giant was removed from the prized Conviction Buy List. Walmart shares closed up almost 2% at $85.73 on Wednesday after the huge buyback plan, but they were indicated down 0.3% at $85.42 on Thursday. Walmart has a 52-week range of $65.28 to $86.29 and a consensus price target of $84.97.

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Other top analyst calls were seen as follows: