Stocks are trading close to all-time highs and this bull market is now seven and a half years old. Metals and energy prices have rebounded sharply so far in 2016. Most analysts on Wall Street have made their big upgrades in the metals and energy sectors, but we have started seeing more calls of late with Buy and Outperform ratings, now that the dust has largely settled.
The new reality seems to be that oil prices and the prices of metals have reached a level where analysts are again comfortable making key projections for upside.
24/7 Wall St. tracks dozens of analyst upgrades and downgrades each weekday, and this ends up being hundreds of calls each week. The week ending August 27 had many key Buy or Outperform ratings for oil and gas and for metals investors. Some are even in big names.
It is important to realize that these analyst calls are based on a stabilizing commodities market. Any serious sell-off in metals or energy prices probably will make many of these price targets from analysts look rather silly. And investors need to understand that analysts are often wrong. We have said it hundreds of times: There is no free lunch on Wall Street. Nor is there generally a free lunch on Main Street.
Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $51 from $41 (versus a $44.10 prior close) at Argus on August 23. The team believes that Devon’s focus on liquids production in unconventional North American plays is underappreciated by investors. Devon was added to the US 1 List at Merrill Lynch two weeks ago. Its shares closed at $44.43 on Friday, in a 52-week trading range of $18.07 to $48.68, and with a consensus analyst price target of $45.44.
Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $31 from $27 at Argus early last week. Shares closed at $27.68 the prior day, and the ended the week at $27.83. Argus noted a 33% run-up since its Energy Transfer merger was terminated, believing that it remains at a deep value discount versus its old $60 high. The 52-week range is $10.22 to $49.50, and the consensus price target is $27.33.
BHP Billiton PLC (NYSE: BBL) is much more diversified than just oil and gas in commodities, but its shares were raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies on August 23. The firm raised its price target to $33 from $28, versus a $27.42 prior closing price. The 52-week range is $16.36 to $36.66, and the consensus price target is $30.32. Shares closed out the week at $27.75.
PetroQuest Energy Inc. (NYSE: PQ) was raised to Buy from Accumulate at Seaport Global on August 26, and the reaction was huge due to a news mix. The reaction looked astonishing, with a 33% gain to $2.34 initially after the upgrade, but much of the gain was tied to a debt exchange offer. S&P actually lowered PetroQuest’s rating to CC from CCC after the news as some word of caution. PetroQuest’s closing price was up 34% at $2.36 on Friday. Its consensus target price is $3.60 and it has a 52-week range of $1.24 to $6.04.
United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $27 price target at Citigroup on August 22. The prior close was $20.38, but shares landed at $19.79 on Friday’s close. The 52-week range is $6.15 to $27.64, and the consensus price target is $21.46. Just keep in mind that Citigroup was cautious on other names in the steel and iron ore segment in the same call.
RSP Permian Inc. (NYSE: RSPP) was started as Outperform at Wells Fargo on August 24. The firm sees the company’s Midland Basin having substantial inventory to sustain solid growth figures well into the future, and it assigned a valuation range of $44 to $48 based on proven and unproved reserves. The stock closed at $39.23 ahead of the call and has a 52-week range of $16.74 to $40.74. It closed up 2% at $39.60 on Friday and has a consensus price target of $44.10.
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, but the firm added Pioneer to its U.S. Focus and Global Focus Lists. The stock closed at $182.25 before the call, has a consensus price target of $202.40 and has a 52-week range of $103.50 to $186.33.
Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ: STLD) was started with a Buy rating and given a $33 price target at Citigroup early in the week. This was versus a $24.79 prior close, but shares ended the week at $24.63. The consensus price target is $30.71, and the 52-week range was $15.32 to $28.01. Other companies were covered in this same call with some caution in the sector.