Earnings season has arrived, and investors and analysts alike are still making many changes to their positions for 2014. Each morning, 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research reports. We generally look for analyst calls regarding new ideas of stocks to buy and for stocks to sell. These are this Friday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades, and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) was crushed after its earnings confession from poor holiday sales trends. Now we have seen downgrades come in. Goldman Sachs downgraded Best Buy to Neutral from Buy, and UBS downgraded the electronics retailer to Neutral from Buy.
Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) was not dumped in coverage at Bank of American Merrill Lynch despite a poor earnings reaction. Merrill Lynch said to stay bullish as the good news was lost in the trading reaction. It maintained that Citigroup is on track to hit its 2015 targets and the loan growth story of 5.5% remains an underappreciated scenario.
EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) was reiterated as Buy with a $30 price target at Argus. What stands out about this call is that the independent research firm showed that by making CFO David Goulden the chief executive of the Information Infrastructure business, this puts him in the lead to succeed Joe Tucci as CEO eventually. The firm sees 2014 as a year in which EMC executes in its core storage business and gets more aggressive on shareholder capital allocations.
Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: NUS) has seen its shares crushed due to woes in China. Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to Neutral from Buy, and the price target was cut to $94 from $147 based on lower China sales operations. The firm also said that fair value is likely down at $85.
Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) was given another positive analyst call. On Thursday evening came word that Stifel Nicolaus was starting coverage of the microblogging site with a Buy rating. Earlier in the week we saw that Nomura had assigned only a Neutral rating, but also earlier in the week we saw that Goldman Sachs had raised its price target to $65. Twitter shares were indicated up 4% around $63 in early trading.
Other Key Analyst Calls
Atwood Oceanics Inc. (NYSE: ATW) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Changyou.com Ltd. (NASDAQ: CYOU) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS) was started with a Buy rating and a $110 price target (versus a $90.16 close) at Merrill Lynch.
Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: FRX) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $165 at Merrill Lynch. The firm said that its analyst meeting exceeded its high expectations as the company is now focused on its new sequencing products. It also called the life sciences, diagnostics and applied markets a $20 billion opportunity.
Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: LYV) was started with a Buy rating and $24 price target (versus a $20.70 close) at Sterne Agee.
Rocket Fuel Inc. (NASDAQ: FUEL) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with a $50 price target (versus a $66.89 close) at BMO Capital Markets. Keep in mind that shares rose 10% on Thursday.
Strayer Education Inc. (NASDAQ: STRA) was downgraded to Underperform from an already cautious Neutral rating at Merrill Lynch due to earnings risks.
STMicroelectronics N.V. (NYSE: STM) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform by Exane BNP Paribas.
Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) was raised to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.
Total S.A. (NYSE: TOT) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
Westpac Banking Corp. (NYSE: WBK) was downgraded to Sell from an already cautious Neutral rating at Goldman Sachs.
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