Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Altria, Exelon, General Dynamics, Mattel, Philip Morris, SanDisk, Wells Fargo and More

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Stocks were looking steadily lower on Thursday ahead of the three-day Easter weekend. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both went positive for 2016 last week, but now the five weeks of consecutive gains look challenged. The issue for investors and traders alike now is whether they should be selling back into rallies or they should keep buying the dips.

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 analyst reports cover stocks to buy, and other reports cover stocks to sell or avoid.

These are top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen Thursday morning:

Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, based largely on valuation, with a stretched P/E ratio being cited. Altria’s price objective remained at $66.00, versus a $61.41 close, a consensus analyst price target of $64.88 and a 52-week trading range of $47.31 to $63.15.

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) was started as Overweight with a $39.00 price target (versus a $34.72 prior close) at Barclays. The consensus price target is $34.50, and the 52-week range is $25.09 to $35.50.


General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $152 price target (versus a $134.32 close) at Deutsche Bank. Shares have traded in a 52-week range of $121.61 to $153.76, and the consensus price target is $160.31.

Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) was started as Buy with a $36.00 price target (versus a $32.47 close) at UBS. Its consensus price target is $32.36 and its 52-week range is $19.45 to $34.36.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price objective was raised to $110.00 from $93.00 (versus a $97.07 close) at Merrill Lynch. The shares have a consensus target price of $94.15 and a 52-week range of $75.27 to $99.33. One competing analyst call recently outlined how Altria and Philip Morris could get back together in a merger.

SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive and the price target was cut to $79 from $86 (versus a $76.41 close) at Susquehanna. The consensus price target is $76.20. The 52-week range is $44.28 to $78.83.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was started as Sell at UBS, and the price target of $45.00 compares to a prior close of $49.76. The consensus price target is $56.47, and Wells Fargo has a 52-week range of $44.50 to $58.77.

Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades seen on Thursday were in the following:

  • American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $52 price target (versus a $41.92 close) at Raymond James.
  • Dentsply Sirona Inc. (NASDAQ: XRAY) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight with a $65 price target (versus a $60.55 close) at Morgan Stanley.
  • Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) was started as Neutral with an $83 price target (versus a $78.07 close) at UBS.
  • PNM Resources Inc. (NYSE: PNM) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $34 price target (versus a $33.26 close) at Jefferies.
  • United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.
  • Ventas Inc. (NYSE: VTR) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $60.00 price target (versus a $61.19 close) at Goldman Sachs.

If you missed Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades, they included Charles Schwab, Dean Foods, HollyFrontier, Incyte, Newfield Exploration, Nike and close to a dozen more companies.