Are Analysts Getting Too Ambitious on Caterpillar and Boeing?

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Two of the best performing Dow stocks so far in 2017 are The Boeing Co.l (NYSE: BA) and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT). Boeing is the Dow’s leading gainer through last Friday, and Caterpillar is among the top five.

Caterpillar beat quarterly and full-year earnings estimates, but came up a bit short on revenues when it reported results on Thursday. The company also lowered its earlier 2017 forecast to account for a strengthening of the U.S. dollar. The company now expects full-year revenues of $36 to $39 billion ($37.5 billion at the midpoint of the range) and profit per share of $2.90, excluding restructuring costs of about $500 million. Analysts had forecast 2017 EPS at $3.04 and revenues of $37.99 billion.

The company’s December retail sales, though still down, are rising and infrastructure spending from the Trump administration is judged to herald better sales for the company’s heavy construction equipment.

Analysts at Wells Fargo raised the company’s rating from Market Perform to Outperform and maintained its valuation range. Other analysts also made positive moves:

  • Baird raised its price target from $94 to $97 with a Neutral rating
  • Barclays raised its price target from $96 to $100 with a rating of Equal Weight
  • Citigroup raised its price target from $98 to $100 with a Neutral rating
  • Deutsche Bank raised its price target from $104 to $108 with a Buy rating
  • RBC raises price target from $82  to $85

Meanwhile, analysts covering Boeing are split. Some see the stock as a Buy and others maintain a Sell rating, though all see to agree that a higher price target is in order.

In Boeing’s favor is the firm’s higher cash flow forecast for 2017, up $500 million compared with 2016’s total of $10.25 billion. Boeing has been quite successful in focusing attention on cash flow as a primary metric for measuring its performance and that effort is paying off.

The downside case is based on declining orders and a concomitant decline in deliveries. Boeing delivered 748 commercial jets in 2016 and forecasts deliveries of 760 to 765 for 2017, roughly equal to the 762 planes it delivered in 2015.

Analysts at Jefferies noted the $200 million charge to the KC-46A tanker program in its note on Boeing’s results, but liked the company’s cash flow forecast and raised Boeing’s price target from $185 to $200 and maintained a Buy rating on the stock.j

BofA/Merrill Lynch likes the company’s cash flow story, but maintained its Sell rating and $135 price objective based on the downturn in commercial jet orders.

Other analysts also weighed in on the company:

  • Cowen and Company raised its price target from $180 to $185 with an Outperform rating
  • Deutsche Bank raised its price target from $180 to $192
  • Goldman Sachs raised its price target from $121 to $124 with a Sell rating
  • J.P. Morgan raised its target price from $172 to $185 with a Neutral rating

Caterpillar’s stock closed at $98.99 on Friday after posting a new 52-week high of $99.46. The stock’s 52-week low is $59.80 and the 12-month consensus price target is $92.23.

Boeing shares closed down about 0.8% Friday at %167.70 in a 52-week range of $102.10 to $170.00. The consensus price target on the stock is $169.60.