Earnings season is winding down and the markets remain choppy. Investors are wary, but they want upside and they keep hearing that this is now a stock picker’s market. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports from Wall Street and boutique firms alike each day of the week. It turns out that at the end of each week there are some aggressive calls for huge upside by analysts.
The riskiest of this lot of analyst calls is the group of stocks trading under $10.00 per share. Many investors love these because they can have such a large perceived upside, but we have to warn investors and traders alike that this group also contains the highest risks for investors.
We have found 10 analyst calls from this past week in which analysts were calling for big upside in stocks under $10, although one is a short-sell theme, so it is far from a Buy rating. Some of these stocks are even trading under $5 per share. These were the top 10 analyst calls of this last week covering stocks trading under $10.
Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARIA) posted a narrower loss last week, and Jefferies decided to raise its rating to Buy from Hold, supposedly with a $14 price target, versus a prior target. That would be more than a double if so, although we would caution that JMP Securities cut its target down to $8 from $10 this past week too. Ariad’s price was $6.55 in late-Friday trading.
Biodel Inc. (NASDAQ: BIOD) is so small at $45 million in market value that it has limited analyst coverage. The firm Global Hunter started coverage with an Accumulate rating on Wednesday, but it might as well have been a risk-based Strong Buy rating. The firm’s $5.00 price target implies 130% upside from the $2.16 share price in late Friday trading. Please be advised that earnings are due on Monday, May 13, at the closing bell, so this could be loaded with more risk than investors are willing to take on. Biodel has a 52-week range of $1.93 to $6.08.
Bio-Path Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BPTH) is far from a household name, even for stocks trading under $10 per share. The firm Maxim Group started coverage on this emerging biotech on Friday with a Buy rating and $5.00 price target. This stock was trading at $2.68 late on Friday, implying close to a double for the stock if things pan out. Please be advised that the 52-week range is $0.40 to $5.25, so it is very volatile, and this stock has risen more than sixfold already from its bottom.
Flextronics International Ltd. (NASDAQ: FLEX) is in the perpetually unloved EMS sector of electronics manufacturing services. The independent research firm Argus lifted its rating to Buy from Hold on Thursday, a rare call for Argus, considering that the price was around $9.40 before the upgrade. Argus does not have that many stocks under $10 that it covers. Shares hit a high of $9.70 on Thursday, but the stock was closer to $9.45 in late Friday trading. The consensus price target is $10.45.
Forest Oil Corp. (NYSE: FST) was raised on Wednesday to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley. An upgrade of this sort may not sound like the greatest ringing endorsement, but one must recall that this stock has fallen from over $6 to under $2 in the past year. Any upgrade at all will sound like a welcome wagon. Shares were at $1.80 prior to the upgrade, and the stock was at $2.20 in late trading on Friday.
Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) remains a controversial story, but it may also have a misunderstood earnings report. Northland Securities downgraded the stock to Market Perform from Outperform after the report, but Sterne Agee remains very positive with its Buy rating and $12 price target. This would be a double, even after Friday’s 6% gain in mid-day trading, assuming Sterne Agee’s bullish scenario pans out.
Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Roth Capital Markets on Wednesday, but what is interesting here was that the upside was only to a target of $3.50. Hecla remains as one of our own seven candidates of stocks that could double in 2014. At $3.03 in mid-Friday trading, this leaves more than 15% upside — and the consensus target is even higher at $3.83.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) was raised to Neutral from Sell and the price target was raised to $9 from $4 at UBS. This call from Wednesday is another situation in which a Neutral rating may sound only so-so, but it removes a Sell rating, and there was more than 10% in implied upside to the $9 price target from the $8.09 closing price before the call was made. Oddly enough, shares were up at $8.71 in late-trading on Friday.
Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) surged after increasing its merger cost savings and outlining nearly 20% of stores to be closed. Credit Suisse piped in on Wednesday by raising its rating to Outperform from Neutral, and even raising its price target to $7 from $6.13. If the firm is right, Office Depot shares had nearly 45% as of the time of the call.
A runner up call is in Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN), with the huge upside being from what sounded like a “Strong Short Sell” recommendation from Thursday. A sell-off was seen after earnings, exacerbated by a downgrade from Maxim Securities. The firm cut the rating to Hold from Buy. This might not sound bad until you see the price target was cut to $1 from $4 in the call. In short, Maxim sees it losing another half of its value — a double-your-money prediction in terms of short selling views.
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