Stocks were up very marginally on Wednesday ahead of what is expected to be a no-rate-hike day from the Federal Reserve. The Greek issues are becoming less of an issue as everyone realizes how insignificant the country is in the grand scheme of things. One trend that has remained constant for well over three years now is that investors have bought every pullback in the stock market. The reasons may change, and some of them may seem very luck-induced, but buying the dips has been the trend. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst and brokerage research reports each morning to find value and upside, or new trading and investing ideas, for our readers. Some analyst calls cover stocks to buy, and others are about stocks to sell or avoid.
These are this Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations.
Arista Networks Inc. (NYSE: ANET) was started as Buy with a price target of $98.00 (versus a $84.97 close) at Sterne Agee CRT. This was also on the same morning that a portfolio manager touted Arista’s stock on CNBC. Arista has a consensus price target of $84.55 and a 52-week range of $56.11 to $94.84. Arista was also featured recently as a Merrill Lynch stock that is breaking out to the upside.
Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) was maintained as Overweight with a price target of $255.00 (versus a $205.00 close) at Pacific Crest. The firm’s sum of the parts analysis suggests that Baidu has an attractive valuation, with a focus on strong margins and growth in video and online travel ahead.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price target remains $115 (versus a $100.04 close) at Societe Generale. Effectively, the call is that shares are off too much and that sentiment has become too negative. Chevron’s consensus target is $113.11, and the 52-week range is $98.81 to $135.10.
Lexmark International Inc. (NYSE: LXK) was started as Sell with a downside price target of $34.00 (versus a $45.36 close) at Goldman Sachs. The firm is far more bearish than most, but Lexmark’s consensus price target is down at $39.00 and the 52-week trading range is $37.18 to $51.77. Still, the bears cannot ignore the risks of a short squeeze here.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, but the firm lowered its target price by $5 to $88 in the call, based on the decline in realized oil prices. Still, Argus believes that Occidental is well positioned to weather the challenging market conditions in energy this year. Another boost was that divestitures have added to its cash and have increased Occidental’s exposure to higher returning assets.
Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) was started as Neutral with a price target of $81.00 (versus a $73.40 close) at BNP Paribas. After the old buyout rumors put a price premium on top of an already high valuation premium, some analysts have a hard time justifying the 100-times earnings valuation here. Still, the consensus price target for Salesforce.com is right at $80.00.
Additional top analyst upgrades and downgrades were seen also in the following: