Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: eBay, NBG, Petrobras, Twitter and More

Stocks have had gains for eight weeks now and the stock market keeps challenging all-time highs. It is time for investors to start positioning their assets and portfolios for 2014. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of research reports from Wall Street each morning, looking for what the analyst community considers to be stocks to buy and stocks to sell. These are this Monday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBA) was raised to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust on the heels of strong Black Friday sales data. At one point the sales were said to be up 35% from the prior year. eBay shares are indicated up another 5% around $52, versus a 52-week range of $48.06 to $58.04. SunTrust has issued a $61 price target, and that target price is actually almost $1 under the consensus analyst price target for the online auction site and commerce provider.

National Bank of Greece S.A. (NYSE: NBG) was given the equivalent of a Sell rating on Monday. HSBC initiated coverage with an Underweight rating. The move comes on the heels of last week’s earnings and also about two weeks after reports circulated that Greece’s government was facing a budget surplus for the first time in years. The ADSs in New York are still down 75% from their peak of the past year, and that is still after doubling from the lows. In the same call, HSBC issued an Underweight rating for local rival Alpha Bank and a Neutral rating for another rival named Piraeus.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, was downgraded to Underperform from Outperform at Credit Suisse. The firm also slashed its U.S. share price target all the way down to $14 from $25. Credit Suisse had upgraded shares earlier in the year, but this is on the heels of last week’s announcements that will make for a difficult 2014. The firm now sees timid price increases, an opaque pricing methodology, worse corporate governance perceptions, a weakening position of a strong technical team of executives, followed by earnings and valuation with a fragile balance sheet.

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) has seen the underwriting analysts now initiate coverage on what looks like an early release of the quiet period. The news and social media site was started as Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, Neutral at J.P. Morgan and Underperform at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Buy ratings were issued by Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. We will follow up on this one in more detail later.

Urban Outfitters Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee. The firm lowered estimates even with the Anthropologie and Free People concepts continuing to outperform. The firm said that it is losing confidence in the Urban brand’s ability to quickly adjust its merchandising miscues and that brings potential risk to 2014 numbers. Still, the firm remains positive on the company’s direct-to-consumer operations and its channel capabilities. The firm also cautioned that Black Friday promotions were worrisome and extended for longer than expected. Sterne Agee lowered the price target to $42 from $45 in the call.

Other notable analyst calls seen were as follows:

Everest Re Group (NYSE: RE) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Hologic (NASDAQ: HOLX) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen & Co.

Marketo Inc. (NASDAQ: MKTO) was maintained as Buy but was added to the prized Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs. The firm’s $45 price target suggests close to 50% upside as the stock has slid from its highs. The firm calls Marketo a leading SaaS offering provider for the open-ended marketing automation market. Marketo’s latest close was at $29.10, and the consensus price target of $39.50 compares to its post-IPO trading range of $17.20 to $39.80.

OpenTable Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $43 price target (versus a $38.21 close) at Raymond James.

Shire PLC (NASDAQ: SHPG) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS, based in part on clinical trial data.

Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE: SLW) was initiated as Strong Buy with a $30 price target at Raymond James after closing at $20.94.

WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) was raised to Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs. Ltd. (NASDAQ: WIX) was started as Buy with a $23 price target (versus a $20.50 close) at Merrill Lynch. Oppenheimer also started coverage as Outperform with a $25 price target.

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