Jefferies Lifts Price Targets on Some Top Stocks to Buy

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When brokerage firms on Wall Street start to raise price targets on names that have already been doing well, investors should take note. Typically when companies are hitting on all cylinders, earnings continue to grow both sequentially and year over year. This gives Wall Street analysts the kind of confidence they need to retain their Buy ratings and raise the target price.

In a new Jefferies research report, the analysts highlight some of their top stocks to buy in multiple sectors that are doing so well that the price targets have to be moved higher. We screened their report for not only the top stocks to buy, but the stocks that are in sectors that are poised to do well in 2014. Despite the sizable rally in the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, both are still down for the year. Now may still be an ideal time to scale in some investment capital to these quality names at Jefferies.

Arris Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRS) got hit when press reports indicated that Apple may be working with Time Warner Cable and other companies on a new set-top box. The Jefferies team do not know the specifications of the device. It still may use “HDMI pass through” architecture like XBox One (and therefore will still require a cable STB to support cable content). That would bode well for Arris. The Jefferies target is lifted to $30. The Thomson/First Call estimate is $28.05. Arris closed on Friday at $27.87.

C&J Energy Services Inc. (NYSE: CJES) undertook an aggressive expansion plan for 2013. That strategy culminated in several deals during the fourth quarter and further plans for 2014. The domestic hydraulic fracturing specialist has spent the past couple of years expanding the business line and, surprisingly, building new equipment. Now with natural gas inventories plunging to five-year lows, C&J Energy is positioned to take advantage of a market where utilization is already firming. Jefferies price target holds steady at $28, and the consensus estimate is $25. Shares closed Friday at $24.50.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is the top pick in credit cards at Jefferies. Not only did the analysts up the numbers dramatically for the year, they also think that the rest of Wall Street is way low on modeling asset growth for the company. Lower cost Internet deposits, better performing student loans, lower charge offs and slower delinquent account repricing will support margins. Investors are paid a 1.4% dividend. Jefferies lifts its price target from $57 to $65. The consensus target is $61.96. Discover closed Friday at $56.92.

Orbital Sciences Corp.‘s (NYSE: ORB) 2013 results and 2014 outlook point to the revenue growth and high free cash flow potential of the franchise. The Jefferies analysts see opportunities for new orders, 7% revenue growth and acceleration of free cash flow, and they expect shares to continue to advance. The company develops and manufactures small and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. Jefferies raises its price target from $27 to $31. The consensus number is $33.17. The stock closed on Friday at $28.27.

Precision Drilling Corp. (NYSE: PDS) is Canada’s leading oilfield services firm, which provides contract drilling, well servicing and strategic support services to its customers. The company was formed as a private drilling contractor in the early 1950s and has grown on the back of fleet expansion and acquisitions, most notably the $2 billion purchase of Grey Wolf in 2008. The company pays investors a 2.1% dividend. The Jefferies price objective goes from $11 to $13. The consensus stands at $12.78. The stock closed Friday at $10.39.

Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE: QIHU) provides Internet and mobile security products in the People’s Republic of China. Its core Internet security products include 360 Safeguard, a solution for Internet security and system optimization; 360 Antivirus, an antivirus application that uses multiple scan engines to protect users’ computers against various kinds of malware; as well as 360 Mobile Safe, a security program for the Google Android, Apple iOS and Nokia Symbian smartphone operating systems. The Jefferies price target rises from $105 to $125, and the consensus target is $94.60. Those consensus numbers may go higher as the stock closed Friday at $99.25.

When analysts sense that a stock they cover has solid upside potential, they usually feel comfortable raising the price target as the stock nears the current target. When the same analysts see business grinding sideways, they typically cut a stock to Hold as it nears or hits the current target. Clearly the Jefferies analysts have confidence, as their numbers are going higher.