Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: CenturyLink, Chipotle, Enterprise Products, Kinder Morgan, Microsoft, Vivint Solar and More

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Stocks were indicated lower on Thursday, making St. Patrick’s Day perhaps the only green market. The markets are almost flat again for 2016, so investors are now confused over whether they should be selling the rallies or buying the dips after the wild start of this year.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst reports each morning to find new investing and trading ideas for its readers. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy, and others cover stocks to sell or avoid.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday, March 17, 2016.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) was downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies, which cut the price target to $24 from $25 (versus a $32.17 prior close). The firm thinks that secular challenges hurting CenturyLink are unlikely to abate and that the 28% gain in 2016 has been unwarranted. The consensus analyst price target is $29.71, and the 52-week trading range is $21.94 to $37.00.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) was downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies, and the price target was lowered to $350 from $390. Merrill Lynch maintained its Neutral rating and $570 price objective. Chipotle was downgraded to Sell from Hold with a $350 price target at Maxim Group just a day earlier.


Enterprise Products Partners L.P.

(NYSE: EPD) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse in a large MLP sector downgrade call. The stock closed at $24.65 and has a consensus price target of $32.05 and a 52-week range of $19.00 to $34.73.

Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse in that MLP sector downgrade. Note that Credit Suisse previously upgraded Kinder Morgan and said that it did not see how the shares could drop much further, and shares have rallied since then.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) was assumed with an Outperform rating and a $62 price target (versus a $54.35 close) at Oppenheimer. The firm sees Microsoft implementing the right strategy to be at the forefront of the next generation of computing and to defend and grow its market share. The consensus price target is $58.55, and the 52-week range is $39.72 to $56.85.

Vivint Solar Inc. (NYSE: VSLR) was maintained as Neutral at Credit Suisse, but the firm slashed the price target to $6 from $16 due to a tough period ahead with financing hurdles and a weakening base. Shares closed at $3.62, in a 52-week range of $3.45 to $16.00.

Other key analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday included the following:

  • Diageo PLC (NYSE: DEO) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.
  • FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse and the price target was raised to $185 from $184.
  • Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT) was started as Outperform with a target price of $166 at Credit Suisse.
  • General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP) was started as Outperform and with a target price of $32 at Credit Suisse.
  • Highwoods Properties Inc. (NYSE: HIW) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (NYSE: IHG) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.
  • L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
  • Prothena Corp. (NASDAQ: PRTA) was reinstated as Buy at Merrill Lynch with a $54 price objective (versus a $35.20 close). The call is based on unfolding value for AL amyloidosis.
  • Regency Centers Corp. (NYSE: RE) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus.

In case you missed out on Wednesday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades, they included Chipotle Mexican Grill, Oracle, Orexigen, PulteGroup, Reynolds American, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and many more.

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