5 Analyst Upgrades That Were Too Big to Ignore

Jon C. Ogg

The stock market has been bolstered for the strongest October in four years. Investors just keep proving that they want to buy value or undiscovered opportunities when they can. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning. While we cover many analyst reports of stocks to buy via upgrades or initiations, there are some that come in later in the morning or that simply get missed. Many of those are too important to ignore, and they are acting to further support shares on good news.

Friday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included shares of DreamWorks Animation, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, NVIDIA, SolarCity, Rio Tinto, Suncor and over a dozen more companies. Here are five of the analyst upgrades, reiterated ratings with price target hikes and positive initiations from Wall Street analysts that were just too big to ignore on Friday.

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACRX) shares surged after its business update, but the big call here indicated massive near-double upside. Jefferies assumed AcelRx with a Buy rating (up from a prior Hold) and assigned a $7.00 price target. Its focus on ARX-04 for acute pain, which is underappreciated and leads to favorable risk/reward. AcelRx was last seen up 12% on Friday, at $3.76 in a 52-week range of $2.92 to $9.32.

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Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) reported its third-quarter financial results as $2.12 in earnings per share (EPS) on $1.94 billion in revenue, both beating consensus estimates. In response, shares were up nearly 9% at $138.29 in Friday’s session, hitting a new 52-week high on its range of $76.34 to $139.58. Here are some of the Expedia price target hikes from positive analyst calls:

  • Benchmark (Buy) raised its price target to $150 from $140.
  • Cowen (Outperform) raised its target to $160 from $150.
  • Deutsche Bank (Buy) raised its target to $152 from $137.
  • JMP Securities (Outperform) raised its target to $165 from $151.
  • RBC Capital Markets (Outperform) raised its target to $180 from $170.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) has been hard to ignore, particularly as another solar player (SolarCity) was getting crushed. First Solar shares rose 10% after earnings topped expectations. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has only a Neutral rating, but it raised its price objective to $61 from $58 in its call. The highest analyst target is $81.00, but Cowen (Outperform) raised its price target to $75 from $65, and Standpoint (Buy) raised its target to $72 from $60.

LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) saw many of analysts boost their targets. Shares were up 12% at about $244.00 in mid-Friday trading. The consensus price target was closer to $250, and that will be higher next week. LinkedIn has a 52-week trading range of $165.57 to $276.18. Here are several of the target hikes:

  • Merrill Lynch (Buy) raised its target price to $310 from $280.
  • Barclays (Overweight) raised its target to $265 from $250.
  • Canaccord Genuity (Buy) raised its target to $275 from $250.
  • Jefferies (Buy) raised its target to $310 from $300.
  • Raymond James (Strong Buy) raised its target to $295 from $270.
  • RBC (Outperform) raised its target to $300 from $275.

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YRC Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ: YRCW) has been such a battered company that you rarely hear good things. Still, YRC beat earnings with a profit (yes, a profit) of almost $20 million. The earnings of $0.61 per share were about 10 cents higher than expected, even though revenues were just a tad shy of estimates. The shares were up 15% at $16.00 in early trading, but an upgrade from Stifel to Buy from Hold took it even higher. Stifel also assigned a $20.00 price target, based on YRC’s turnaround continuing.