Earnings season is slowly coming to an end, stocks have recovered from their lows and now we have investors and analysts alike positioning themselves for the year ahead. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research reports each morning for new ideas — some turn out to be stocks to buy, while others are stocks to sell. These are this Friday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was maintained as Neutral but the price target was raised to $590 from $575 at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The firm said that Apple’s aggressive buyback should lead to near-term earnings per share revisions, and it is raising earnings per share estimates accordingly. Merrill Lynch called Apple a range-bound stock without sustained aggressive capital allocation and/or growth catalysts. With a $535.92 close, it makes you wonder if this felt more like a “buy” or more like a “sell.”
Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital Markets, but the price target was slashed to $6 from $14 (versus a $6.40 close and a $9.40 consensus price target). This downgrade may bring down some of the expectations of a buyout that had been discussed in the past couple of months.
Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (NYSE: AEM) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity, and it was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBS. The company beat earnings, but the big news here is that the dividend was slashed by two-thirds.
GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs, and Sterne Agee maintained its Buy rating. The company missed earnings and guided estimates lower, joining other retailers blaming the weather, of course.
Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) was upgraded to Market Perform from Underperform at William Blair. Stratasys has actually held up better than its 3D printing technology peers, and shares are indicated up close to 1% on the upgrade.
Other Key Analyst Calls
Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen and Company.
Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
Foster Wheeler A.G. (NASDAQ: FWLT) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital Markets, and it was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie. This news comes on the heels the merger agreement, so analysts will be clearing out of the way here.
Huntsman Corp. (NYSE: HUN) was raised to Neutral from Reduce at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.
Manchester United PLC (NYSE: MANU) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT) was raised to Buy from Neutral at UBS.
Targa Resources Corp. (NYSE: TRGP) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo.
WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) was started with a Top Pick rating at RBC Capital Markets.
Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION) was raised to Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs.
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