24/7 Wall St. Top Analyst Calls of the Week (BX, APO, CMA, DELL, DANG, EXM, FSLR, GILD, LVLT, ERIC, MAR, ORCL, SUN, VVUS, WBMD)

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Each weekend we review the many analyst calls we track during the week.  Some turn out to be very insightful and some turn out to be not so great.  For better or worse, these become the top analyst calls of the week.

The top calls in the last week were seen in the following: The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX); Apollo Global Management, LLC (NYSE: APO); Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA); Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL); E-commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG); Excel Maritime Carriers (NYSE: EXM); First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR); Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD); Level 3 Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: LVLT); LM Ericsson Telephone Company (NASDAQ: ERIC); Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR); Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL); Sunoco, Inc. (NYSE: SUN); VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS); WebMD Health Corporation (NASDAQ: WBMD).  We have added in color and summaries on each.

The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) hardly budged this week.  The private equity leader was raised to Buy at Goldman Sachs and the price target was $19.00.  That gave almost 20% upside.  In the private equity upgrade was also Apollo Global Management, LLC (NYSE: APO) with a price target of $17.50 for another 20% upside or so.

Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) had a bad week, and it seemed to all get that bad mojo after the stock was downgraded to Sell at Stifel Nicolaus for close to a 4% loss all in all.

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) took two downgrades on valuation after earnings failed to offer much continued inspiration: Cut to Neutral at Citigroup; Cut to Hold at Needham.

E-commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG) was a bit of an “Oops” this last week.  The e-commerce site in China saw its rating Raised to Outperform at Credit Suisse on Wednesday.  Shares tanked the next day and the stock was down almost 10% at one point the following day.  As the casino boss says after they clean you out, “Thanks for playing and better luck next time!”

Excel Maritime Carriers (NYSE: EXM) has already been slapped silly, and its rating was cut down to Underperform by Zacks after already being down over 60% in the last year.  The global shipping market is just not yet coming back into favor with many analysts.

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was cut to Neutral at Susquehanna.  While not a huge surprise for a downgrade any longer, this was just before earnings are due and shares closed down over 4% at $35.58 on Friday.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is now much less in favor since its hepatitis C treatment appears to be far less active than previously thought.  We saw two more downgrades this last week: Cut to Market Perform at Bernstein; Cut to Equal-weight at Barclays.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: LVLT) was an incredible mover on Thursday after the communications player was raised to Overweight at Morgan Stanley.  Shares rose well over 10% on Thursday and we have an analysis on its move.

LM Ericsson Telephone Company (NASDAQ: ERIC) does not get many upgrades, so it was interesting that the telecom equipment player was raised to Overweight at JPMorgan on Thursday. Shares gapped up, closed up even higher on Thursday, and shares rose almost another 2% on Friday for a total gain of over 5%.

Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) is not at the 52-week high like so many stocks, but it was Raised to the highly prized Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.  The price target is $42.00 and that leaves plenty of implied upside from the $34.73 price on Friday.

Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL) is almost right back up to where it was before it the bottom was yanked out from under it after its poor earnings.  Apparently that is a concern to at least one… Early in the week this one was downgraded to Market Perform from Market Outperform at JMP Securities now that the stock has run from under $26 to over $29 since the start of 2012.

Sunoco, Inc. (NYSE: SUN) is into refining, so higher and higher gas prices do not really help the outfit.  This was not just downgraded to Underperform by Zacks Investment Research on Friday, it was named as Bear of the Day at Zacks.

VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) was a total home run this last week and analysts were forced to chase it higher and higher after the FDA panel recommended that Qnexa get FDA marketing approval to combat weight loss.  After the news came the following calls: reiterated Outperform but raised target to $36.00 at Credit Suisse; Raised to Hold at Brean Murray; Raised to Outperform at Leerink Swann; and Raised to Market Outperform at Rodman & Renshaw.

WebMD Health Corporation (NASDAQ: WBMD) had another bad week after dropping from almost $27.50 down to almost $25.00 after warning that it could face a loss for the year.  Some analysts just expect more pain or cannot take any more pain here with the stock down over 50% from its 52-week high.  S&P Capital IQ cut the rating to Strong Sell from Sell, and Raymond James cut the rating down to Market Perform from Outperform.

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JON C. OGG