Commodities & Metals

Is the Third ArcelorMittal Analyst Upgrade in 2 Weeks the Charm?

It is no secret that the metals and commodity space has been enjoying a significant rally since the lows in January and February of 2016. Now that rally has gone so far that even many of the metals industry leaders have seen their shares rise 50% to 100% over the last couple of months. ArcelorMittal S.A. (NYSE: MT) has just joined the double-your-money club from its lows on February 11, 2016.

As 24/7 Wall St. tracks dozens and dozens of analyst upgrades each day of the week, it has been impossible to ignore that ArcelorMittal’s stock has now received three analyst upgrades in less than two weeks. It has also seen one analyst downgrade, but the recovery and the upgrade ratio being three-to-one should pretty much speak for itself.

On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, ArcelorMittal was upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies. The firm said that there is an expectation for a cyclical uplift in Euro steel prices, so ArcelorMittal is now among the firm’s top carbon steel picks. The firm acknowledged that the stock has already recovered from a deep first quarter trough driven by successful steps to de-risk its balance sheet. It also sees exposure to a U.S.-led price recovery and a turnaround in ArcelorMittal’s principal European market. Jefferies sees ArcelorMittal shares rising to $7.00.

On April 13, Credit Suisse raised ArcelorMittal to Outperform from Neutral. Its price target was put at $7.50, versus $5.19 at the time of the analyst upgrade. This was called the first up-cycle in five years that was followed by material upside potential.

Credit Suisse raised its EBITDA forecast for a second time in a month as the cycle recovers sharply. The firm said that it has conviction that this is a real cycle and not just a seasonal uptick. EBITDA is expected to normalize back to the $6 billion level, and it is trading at 50% of its 2012 to 2015 average which was also a 4-year down-cycle of deflation. The firm even projected that it could have longer term upside from restructuring, but the greatest risk remains the speed of global supply response. They said that ArcelorMittal ownership was low from the investing community.

Goldman Sachs raised its rating on ArcelorMittal to Buy from Neutral on April 12. More importantly, Goldman Sachs added this stock to its prized Conviction Buy List at that time. ArcelorMittal closed at $5.03 ahead of that upgrade.

The Goldman Sachs call was after a rights offering raised cash to tender debt. The firm noted that several factors could generate positive results in the near-term. ArcelorMittal had recently announced a plan to buy back outstanding bonds after capital to pay down debt, and Goldman Sachs believes that this gives the company much more breathing room despite steel industry headwinds.

As for the recent analyst downgrade, that was a call from J.P. Morgan on Monday, April 18. The steel stock was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at that time. The prior closing price was $5.58 going into that more cautious call. Even that did not prevent the stock from rallying this week.

24/7 Wall St. would remind its readers that analysts do not own a crystal ball. They are often late to the party, and sometimes they have entirely wrong assumptions. That is not to say anything of criticism here, but a company’s stock doubling is not normal even after the major sell-off that has been seen.

ArcelorMittal shares had a consensus analyst price target of $4.06 less than two weeks ago. That is now up to $4.64, with many analysts still being behind on their targets. ArcelorMittal shares were last seen trading up 4% at $6.10, and still not quite at the half-way point of its 52-week trading range of $2.93 to $11.95.

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