UBS Makes Big Year-End Changes to Equity Focus List

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Here they come. The avalanche of year-end portfolio changes is coming fast and furious from the top firms on Wall Street that we cover at 24/7 Wall St. With the markets mired just above the break-even level for 2015, many strategists and portfolio managers are trying to find just the right changes that can help squeeze out a 2015 victory. With most large cap portfolios bench-marked to the S&P 500, just a little extra alpha could make a big difference.

In a new research report, UBS makes some serious changes to its Equity Focus List. They add three top blue chip companies and remove two others.

Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) was removed from the list. It operates as a design software and services company worldwide. Its Platform Solutions and Emerging Business segment offers AutoCAD software, a computer-aided design application for professional design, drafting, detailing and visualization, as well as AutoCAD LT, a professional drafting and detailing software. The analysts cite a downgrade to Neutral as the reason. The shares closed on Wednesday at $61.25.

Also removed from the list was MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. The company holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The analysts point to a removal from the most preferred list. Shares closed on Wednesday to $51.08.

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The following are the three stocks added to the UBS Equity Focus List.

Accenture

This company was hit hard during the August sell-off, but it has roared back since. Accenture PLC (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. It combines unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions, underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network.

UBS notes that Accenture is a leader in information technology (IT) services and should deliver solid and consistent earnings growth over the next few years as it is well positioned to benefit from solid global IT spending trends and the migration of corporate and government IT infrastructure to the cloud.

Accenture recently announced it was launching five advanced analytics applications for the resources industries, which include utilities, oil and gas, chemicals and metals and mining companies, to enable insight-driven decision making for improved business outcomes. The new analytics applications are designed to support pricing, risk management, energy trading, credit collection and workforce planning decisions.

Accenture shareholders are paid a solid 2.15% dividend. The consensus price target for the stock is set at $106.68. The stock closed Wednesday at $107.88.