Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcoa, Marathon, Marvell, Starbucks, Vale and More

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Stocks were looking for direction on Thursday morning. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning of the week to find new trading and investment ideas for its readers. Some of the top analyst calls cover stocks to buy, while others are about stocks to sell or to avoid. These are this Thursday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) kicked off earnings season. The aluminum giant was maintained as Buy with a $17 price target (versus a $13.67 close) at Sterne Agee. Nomura maintained its Buy rating but cut the target to $21 from $23 in its call.

BioMed Realty Trust Inc. (NYSE: BMR) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies.

Cancer Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: CGIX) was started as Buy with a fair value estimate of $13.00 (versus an $8.04 close) at Janney Capital Markets.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) was downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform and the price target was slashed to $4 from $8 (versus a $4.81 close) at BMO Capital Markets.

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Gladstone Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: GLAD) was resumed as Neutral with a fair value estimate of $8.00 (versus a $8.93 close) at Janney Capital Markets. The firm said the total portfolio is marked at $0.85 per dollar, while its oil and gas exposure is marked at $0.97 per dollar, and that it has increased leverage from 0.46 to 0.71 quarter over quarter.

Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $105 from $100 (versus a $98.61 close) at Oppenheimer.

Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC (NYSE: IHG) was raised to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies.

Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) was started with a Market Perform rating and was given a price target of $31 (versus a $27.96 close) at BMP Capital Markets.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) was started as Outperform with a price target of $20 (versus a $15.00 close) at Cowen.

Meritage Corp. (NYSE: MTH) was downgraded to underweight from neutral by J.P. Morgan, and the price target was lowered to $43 from $48.

Mid-America Apartment Communities Inc. (NYSE: MAA) was started as Buy and was given a fair value estimate of $83 (versus a $78.15 close) at Janney Capital Markets.

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Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: PTEN) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen.

PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at J.P. Morgan.

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) was reiterated as Buy and the post-split price target was raised to $54 at Argus.

Tribune Media Co. (NYSE: TRCO) was started as Outperform at Wells Fargo.

TriVascular Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIV) was downgraded to Neutral at Credit Suisse, which cut the price target to $10 from $14.

Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) was downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets.

XL Group PLC (NYSE: XL) was started with a Market Outperform rating and was assigned a price target of $43 (versus a $37.67 close) at JMP Securities.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Oppenheimer. Also, it was maintained as Buy but the price target was cut to $42 at Roth Capital.

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In case you missed Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades, they included Apple, Annaly Capital, Jabil Circuit, Lululemon, Xerox, WebMD and dozen other companies.