Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Blackstone, Infloblox, Dynegy, IBM, Sprint, Spirit Air, Verizon and More

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Stocks were looking for direction Friday morning, ahead of the weekend. The Dow remains over 1,000 points above the lows from two weeks ago, but this week has been mixed as earnings kicked into high speed. Investors have proven over and over that they will buy their favorite stocks and other stocks they see value in after weakness.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning of the week. The goal is to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers. Some of these analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid. These are Friday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations.

Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX) was raised to Outperform from Perform with a $38.00 price target (versus a $34.05 prior close) at Oppenheimer. Blackstone has a consensus price target of $42.66 and a 52-week trading range of $26.06 to $43.59. Oppenheimer believes the market volatility and a big pullback in the stock present an opportunity.

Infoblox Inc. (NYSE: BLOX) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $26.00 price target (versus a $16.13 close) at Sterne Agee CRT. Infoblox has a consensus price target of just over $26 and a 52-week range of $13.96 to $28.03.

Dynegy Inc. (NYSE: DYN) was started as Neutral and was assigned a price target of $25.00 (versus a $23.62 close) at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. The consensus price target is almost $35, and the 52-week range is $17.34 to $35.00.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was started with a Hold rating and was assigned a $148.00 price target (versus a $150.09 close) at Cantor Fitzgerald. IBM has a consensus price target of $158.53 and a 52-week range of $140.56 to $182.84.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) was started with a Neutral rating and was assigned a $4.00 price target (versus a $4.27 close) at Nomura. Sprint has a consensus price target that is supposedly higher than $7 and a 52-week range of $3.10 to $6.30.

Spirit Airlines Inc. (NASDAQ: SAVE) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight and the price target was cut to $53 from $66 (versus a $50.06 close) at Morgan Stanley. Spirit has a consensus price target of roughly $73.00 and a 52-week range of $45.75 to $85.35.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was maintained as Buy with a $54.00 price target (versus a $44.67 close) at Canaccord Genuity. The firm is looking for in-line earnings. Verizon has a consensus price target of $50.50 and a 52-week range of $38.06 to $51.73.

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Other key analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations Friday morning were seen in the following:

Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) was downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at William Blair.

American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Janney Capital Markets.