Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Amazon, Ford, Gilead, Level 3, Sarepta, Western Digital, Whiting Petroleum and More

April 29, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks had a rough Thursday and futures were indicated lower on Friday. Despite the drop, we have yet to see any serious selling pressure in a while and investors still seem more than willing to buy the dips even with the S&P 500 trading at about 17.7 times forward its 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each morning of the week to find new investing and trading ideas. Some of these analyst reports cover stocks to buy, while other reports cover stocks to sell or avoid.

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

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) blew past expectations on earnings with a strong AWS operating result. It closed down 0.75% at $602.00 but was indicated up over 11% at $673.90 on the news. Jefferies reiterated its Buy rating but raised its price target to $865 from $775. Merrill Lynch raised its price objective to $840 from $750. S&P kept its Buy rating but raised the price target to $745 from $685. Credit Suisse maintained its Outperform rating but raised its target to $880 from $800.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch based on relative valuation and an expected earnings fade in the second half of 2016. That being said, the firm raised estimates and raised its price objective to $17 from $16 in the call. Ford closed up 3.1% at $14.09 on Thursday, but shares were indicated down 0.8% at $13.98 on Friday, versus a 52-week trading range of $10.44 to $15.94.


Gilead Sciences Inc.

(NASDAQ: GILD) was trading down 5% at $92.05 after earnings missed the mark on weak sales. Gilead was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Maxim Group. Jefferies maintained its Hold rating and the price target was cut to $96 from $101. Merrill Lynch maintained a Neutral rating and $105 price target. Credit Suisse kept Gilead at Outperform with a $120 price target. The 52-week range is $81.89 to $123.37.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch, but the firm maintained its $60 price objective (versus a $54.20 close). The firm said it was stepping back and awaiting further revenue story developments as its prior Buy thesis ran its course. The consensus analyst price target is $61.33, and the 52-week range is $40.86 to $57.08.

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRPT) rose over 19% to $13.80 on Thursday. It was downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies, but the price target was kept at $7, noting that the analyst continues to see low probability of approval by FDA PDUFA. The consensus price target is $18.73, and the 52-week range is $8.00 to $41.97.

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Robert W. Baird. Shares were indicated down 5.5% at $43.50 after earnings, within a 52-week range of $38.64 to $99.93.

Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) was down 3.7% to $11.77 on Thursday after earnings missed expectations. We saw RBC trim ratings and targets as well on Thursday. Now Sterne Agee CRT has downgraded it to Neutral from Buy. Shares were indicated up 3.6% at $12.20 on Friday, versus a consensus analyst target of $11.94 and a 52-week range of $3.35 to $39.15.

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Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades from this Friday were seen in shares of the following companies:

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $168 price target (versus a $142.53 close) at BMO Capital Markets.

Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) was up over 4% at $194.30 after stronger revenues than expected. Brean Capital raised its rating to Buy from Hold with a $235 price target. The consensus target price was $216.74, and the 52-week range is $100.00 to $217.97.

Bottomline Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: EPAY) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) was downgrade to Underperform at Merrill Lynch.

Gladstone Investment Corp. (GAIN) was resumed with a Neutral rating at Janney.

GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy and the price target was cut to $30 from $40 (versus a $25.32 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Great Western Bancorp Inc. (NYSE: GW) was reiterated as Buy and the price objective was raised to $355 (versus a $31.11 close) at Merrill Lynch.

Kilroy Realty Corp. (NYSE: KRC) was raised to Buy from Hold at Stifel.

Molina Healthcare Inc. (NYSE: MOH) was downgraded to Underperform at Merrill Lynch. UBS downgraded Molina to Neutral from Buy as well.


MPLX L.P. (NYSE: MPLX) was raised to Buy from Hold at Stifel, and Credit Suisse raised its rating to Outperform and raised its price target to $40 from $35 (versus a $32.16 close).

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) was reiterated as Buy but the price target was raised to $130 from $112 (versus an $85.87 close) at Jefferies.

Oceaneering International Inc. (NYSE: OII) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $40 price target (versus a $35.23 close) at Societe Generale.

Stericycle Inc. (NASDAQ: SRCL) was trading down 13% at $105.00 or so after missing earnings expectations, creating an analyst swarm. Stericycle was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel and was downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets. It was maintained as Buy, but the price target was cut to $140 from $146 at Jefferies.

Tempur Sealy International Inc. (NYSE: TPX) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

UGI Corp. (NYSE: UGI) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney.

World Fuel Services Corp. (NYSE: INT) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Thursday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Facebook, First Solar, Hess, Texas Instruments, U.S. Steel, Vertex and over a dozen more.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included in Apple, Chipotle Mexican Grill, eBay, JetBlue Airways, Kraft Heinz, Twitter and more.