Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcatel-Lucent, Charter, Staples, VMware and More

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Stocks have been challenging news highs almost daily. Investors remain leery, wanting to capture upside but also fearful of getting caught by the next major market correction. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning to find new ideas. Some of these analyst calls are ideas for stocks to buy, and some cover stocks to sell. These are this Monday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.

Alcatel-Lucent S.A. (NYSE: ALU) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets.

Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) was raised to Buy from Hold and the price target was raised to $150 from $125 (versus a $127 close) at Jefferies. Despite not winning in any Time Warner deal, Charter remains a likely M&A player or deal maker on a smaller scale.

Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at BB&T Capital markets, on the heels of bad earnings and a sharp sell-off last week.

VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, but the big part of the call was that its price target was raised to $130 from $110 (versus a $101.51 close) in the call. The consensus target is closer to $106, and the prior street high was $121. Mizuho Securities also raised its target price to $120 from $110.

Other Key Analyst Calls

Alon USA Energy Inc. (NYSE: ALJ) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $103 at Argus, based mostly on its $7 billion in asset sales turning its focus to North America.

ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at William Blair.

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE: ADM) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets.

Athenahealth Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN) was downgraded to Underperform from Perform at Oppenheimer.

HSN Inc. (NASDAQ: HSNI) was started with a Buy at UBS.

Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE: QIHU) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $160 from $115 (versus a $120.79 close) at Citigroup.

Realty Income Corp. (NYSE: O) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

UIL Holdings Corp. (NYSE: UIL) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Merrill Lynch.

Veeco Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: VECO) was raised to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

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