24/7 Wall St. Top Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades of the Prior Week (ALU, BIDU, CHTR, FSLR, F, NUE, STX, WMT, WFM, ZLC, WDC, AAPL)

Each morning 24/7 Wall St. issued a list of some of the key analyst upgrades, downgrades, and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.  At the end of the week we review these calls to see which ones stand out the most.  Some are great calls that were greatly insightful, some are long-term and far-reaching in nature.  Other calls may be relevant well into the future, and some calls manage to be just awful.  After filtering these calls out, these become the top analyst calls of the week.

This weeks top analyst calls were in the following stocks: Alcatel-Lucent SA (NYSE: ALU); Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU); Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR); First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR); Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F); Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE); Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX);Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT); Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM); and Zale Corporation (NYSE: ZLC)

Alcatel-Lucent SA (NYSE: ALU) was previously the high-flying network and communications equipment stock of the year, but then it went to being the most butchered stock of all of its peers.  We wonder if this downgrade last week that took the price target to $2.35 as the rating was cut to Underperform at Jefferies may have been the last bit of bad news to get out of the way.  Jefferies doesn’t seem to think so.

Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) is one of the companies which we had listed as being one to outperform Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) over the next year if the analysts were anywhere close to accurate on their price targets.  Needless to say, it was a bit surprising to see that the rating was cut to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs when it seems as though China is seeing a soft landing rather than a hard landing.

Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) is out of bankruptcy and is still sort of considered the laggard of the cable TV sector.  Not to Credit Suisse.  The firm initiated coverage with a rating of “Outperform” and it gave a $60.00 price target.  That would get the stock only within $1.00 of its post-reorganization high and the consensus price target from Thomson Reuters appears to be above $66 on this one.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is becoming the whipping boy of Wall Street.  Despite shares falling almost each and every week, its rating was cut last Monday to Hold from But by the research team at S&P Capital IQ.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) caught a corporate credit rating upgrade on Friday from Standard & Poor’s that takes Ford to one-notch under investment grade.  The rating rose from “BB-” to “BB+” and that brings Ford closer and closer to being comfortable enough to resuming its quarterly dividend payments.  Ford rose 4.7% on the news.

Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) may have finally found a level where the stock value equals the upside.  The specialty steel player was Started as Outperform at Wells Fargo on Wednesday as shares were down more than 30% from the yearly high.

Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) rose well over 25% on Friday due to the woes of rival Western Digital Corporation (NYSE: WDC) due to Thailand floods hurting production.  Seagate was raised to Outperform at Baird and also raised to Buy at ThinkEquity on Friday ahead of the continued move higher.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is acting as though it wants to break out to the upside on the chart and go above the $55 ‘chart peak” to challenge $60.00 again.  Coincidentally, last Wednesday it was named as the Growth & Income Stock of the Day by Zacks investment research.  Maybe this time really is different.

Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) is just about always an expensive stock and buying it on pullbacks has generally been a gift.  One analyst thinks it is not so expensive, or at least thinks that the organic and high-end grocery destination is heading higher still.  Shares were raised to Buy at Jefferies and the price target is $90.00 per share.  That is $15 above the consensus price target.

Zale Corporation (NYSE: ZLC) is the jeweler that needs all the help it can get and it is far less actively covered than say Tiffany. Last week shares were raised to Buy at BofA/Merrill Lynch as the company has a new CFO and as the bank expects a turnaround to continue.  Shares were under $3.00 early in the week and closed at $3.71 on Friday.