Investing

Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AOL, Echelon, Fairway Group, LinkedIn, Lululemon, More

Jon C. Ogg

February is turning out to be volatile after a down January, and now investors and analysts are positioning themselves for the year ahead. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research reports each morning for new ideas. Some are stocks to buy, others are stocks to sell. These are this Friday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy on Thursday evening at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This is simply a valuation call. The firm said that the fourth quarter was a big earnings beat, which was driven by advertising revenue and profit growth. The firm said its thesis has played out and now the firm does not see upside to its estimates. Its price target was cut to $50 from $56 in the call. AOL was maintained Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Echelon Corp. (NASDAQ: ELON) beat on earnings but lowered guidance in the first quarter, and it is a home automation play. The stock was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Needham & Co. Canaccord Genuity maintained a Hold rating but raised the price target to $4.50 from $3.00.

Fairway Group Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: FWM) has not even been public for a year, and the grocery and food retailer is down about 21% after earnings and news that the CEO will retire. Multiple downgrades have been seen on Friday: to Hold from Buy at BB&T, to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital Markets, to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse and to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) was up after earnings Thursday night but shares were down 3% after a $223.45 close. SunTrust’s Robinson Humphrey raised its rating to Buy and raised the target to $260 from $250. Merrill Lynch maintained its Neutral rating as it sees more acceleration potential in other stocks. Canaccord Genuity lowered its price target to $250 from $270.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) was raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets. Shares of Lululemon were indicated up 4% around $46.50 in early trading because most analysts have been downgrading the stock. This is also close to a 52-week low, as the range over the past year is $44.32 to $82.50.

Other Key Analyst Calls

Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) was raised to Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) was reitertaed as Buy with a $150 price target at Argus. The firm said that 10% pullback in 2014 is a buying opportunity.

Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) was reiterated as Buy and given a back-to-earnings growth verdict at Merrill Lynch, with the price target raised to $24 from $22.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) was reiterated as Buy with a $104 price target at Argus.

Kellogg Co. (NYSE: K) was raised to Neutral from Underweight by J.P.Morgan.

Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy and the price target was cut to $51 from $54 by Goldman Sachs.

Myriad Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: MYGN) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse. The company also announced a patent settlement gene by gene with BRCA patent owners.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) was raised to Buy from Hold at Stifel Nicolaus.

Oasis Petroleum (NYSE: OAS) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $55 price target at Canaccord Genuity.

Rackspace Hosting Inc. (NYSE: RAX) was started as Outperform with a $49.00 price target at Credit Suisse.

Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) was started as Outperform with a $70 price target at Credit Suisse.

Sagent Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGNT) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Merrill Lynch, despite lower numbers and based on limited downside.

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.

VeriSign Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) was downgraded to Sell from an already cautious Neutral rating by Citigroup.