We always look for standout research calls. The goal is not to just find bullish calls, but calls which have a longer duration of a single trading session or even a single week. The top standout calls this last week came in shares of F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ: MNKD), PDL BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: PDLI), Sterling Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: SBIB), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL).
F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) had a very rough week and shares were battered after its revenue shortfall and mixed guidance was just nowhere near good enough to satisfy investors after what had been close to a 200% return in the last year. Many firms threw in the towel as shares went from almost $140 to under $110 and the stock closed out the week at $109.97 versus a 52-week range of $47.11 to $145.76. We saw two standout calls actually getting behind the network optimization solutions provider. F5 was raised to “Outperform” from “Neutral and the price target was raised to $134.00 from $103.00 by Credit Suisse. The firm called it a buying opportunity and a chance to accumulate shares. Gleacher & Co. also stepped in and upgraded the rating on F5 to “Buy” from “Hold” with a $130.00 price target due to its market position and due to still well above-market growth even if that growth is decelerating.
MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ: MNKD) was one that felt like no Kind man this week. The company’s inhalable diabetes treatment called Afrezza was given yet another blow by the FDA. In a complete response letter, the FDA asked for two more tests, which will likely cost more capital than MannKind has available today. Shares were as high as $9.50 before the pre-halt and before the news hit and shares actually hit $10.00 on Tuesday. After the halt was released, MannKind opened down close to $5.00 on Thursday and shares closed the week out at $5.76 after having briefly challenged $6.00 on Thursday and Friday. We knew downgrades would come, and we gave our own detailed outlook over at BioHealthInvestor.com. Still, there was a standout gutsy call made elsewhere this week from a brokerage and research firm we rarely here about. A firm called Weeden & Co. upgraded the shares from Hold to Buy and raised the price target from $6.00 to $9.00. Apparently the only thing at issue was that the firm did not have a sell rating before, although most traders and investors treat a “hold” rating the same as a “sell” rating. Dangerous times for a dangerous stock, but one gutsy call.
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