Stocks were jumping higher yet again, on the heels of Thursday’s “telegraph of more quantitative easing” from the European Central Bank and from very strong earnings out of the tech giants. Yet again, investors are proving that they have an appetite to buy the top stocks either on weakness or when there is value. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning of the week to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers. Some of these analyst calls cover stocks to buy and other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid.
These are this Friday’s top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations.
AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) was defended at Jefferies on the recent hepatitis C FDA advisory weakness, with a reiterated Buy rating and $85 price target. AbbVie shares closed Thursday down 10.3% at $48.27, against a 52-week range of $45.45 to $71.60.
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), after beating earnings and announcing a $5.1 billion share buyback, has seen many price target hikes: JMP to $880, Cowen to $880, Canaccord Genuity to $850, Jefferies to $900, JPMorgan to $900 and RBC to $880.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) rose sharply after posting earnings rather than a loss. We are seeing more price target hikes than we are formal upgrades: JPMorgan raised to $800, JMP Securities to $740, Piper Jaffray to $800 and RBC Capital Markets to $775.
American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform and the price target was cut to $62 from $67 (versus a $59.17 prior close) at Credit Suisse. AEP is one of the 24/7 Wall St. stocks to own for the decade and is one of nine stocks that can raised dividends for a decade.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was raised to Buy from Hold at Maxim Group, and the price target was set at $167 (versus a $115.50 close). Apple had taken another upgrade this week as well, and shares were indicated up 1.4% at $117.10 on Friday, with a consensus analyst price target of $147.95 and a 52-week trading range of $92.00 to $134.54.
McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) was a key Dow stock after handily beating earnings. Piper Jaffray raised its rating to Overweight with a $130.00 price target. McDonald’s closed at $110.87, hit a new 52-week high of $111.00, and the consensus price target is approaching $110 after the earnings beat.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) also managed to beat earnings, on strong cloud revenue, and shares were up 9.6% at $52.65 in early trading. That marks new multiyear highs. Microsoft’s consensus price target was $50.45 and the 52-week range was $39.72 to $50.05. We have seen price target hikes from Bernstein to $62, FBR Capital Markets to $60 and RBC Capital Markets to $57.
Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) was gutted after a weak earnings reaction. Now we have seen several rating cuts: Oppenheimer to Perform, Pacific Crest to Sector Weight, RBC Capital Markets to Sector Perform and Piper Jaffray to Neutral. Canaccord Genuity has maintained a Buy rating but lowered its target to $24 from $26. Pandora was last seen down a sharp 31% at $13.07, under the prior 52-week range of $13.30 to $22.60.
Other key analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations were seen in the following on Friday:
ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Athenahealth Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN) was raised to Outperform at Raymond James, but the firm maintained its $160.00 price target.