7 Major Analyst Upgrades Calling for Huge Upside

June 5, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

The week of June 3 was a wild ride that ended with a serious let down on the payrolls portion of the employment report. With the Dow closing out the week at 17,807, it ended up being almost a wash when compared to the prior week’s 17,873 close. Now the debate continues over whether “sell in May and go away” will be appropriate for 2016. After all, investors have proven on just about every occasion in 2016 that they will buy any big market pullback with a frenzy.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week. This ends up being hundreds of analyst calls each week. The point of these searches is to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers, or to find hidden gems that are overlooked elsewhere.

Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy, and other reports feature stocks to sell or avoid. When it comes to upgrades and Buy or Outperform ratings in major Dow or S&P 500 stocks, most analysts target upside of 8% to 15%. Sometimes, analysts call for much higher upside.

We have featured seven analyst upgrades or initiations with Buy and Outperform ratings for the week ending June 3. Details of each call have been included, along with consensus data and targets from Thomson/First Call, along with some additional color on each.

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Avon Products

On June 3, Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP) was started with a very rare Buy rating and was assigned a $7 price target at Jefferies. Avon closed at $4.01 prior to the call and closed up 4.7% at $4.20 on Friday. Despite the firm’s target matching the street-high analyst target, Avon’s trading volume was only average at about 6 million shares on Friday.

Avon’s consensus analyst price target was last seen at $4.82, and its 52-week trading range is $2.21 to $7.09. Jefferies is calling for 75% upside here, but it went further on a limb by saying that Avon shares could double by the end of 2017.

Avon was said to be early in a three-year transformation, and selling North American operations to Cerberus alleviates the cash worries. Its remaining international business is poised for greater growth with a very favorable risk/reward case.

Costco

Goldman Sachs raised Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) to Buy from Neutral on June 1. This call came with a $175 price target, versus a $148.77 close. Upside of 17% might not sound massive, but investors know that the retail sector as a whole has seen a rough 2016.

Costco had a consensus price target of $168.08 and a 52-week range of $117.03 to $169.73. Costco shares closed out at $151.71 on Friday.

What matters here is that Costco is believed to be able to withstand the pressure from Amazon because of its own strength and scope. Costco’s market cap is also $66 billion.

Coca-Cola European Partners

Coca-Cola Enterprises is now Coca-Cola European Partners PLC (NYSE: CCE). After a 24% drop, which reflected a $14.50 equivalent dividend adjusted price, to $38.81 after the merger, it was started with a Buy rating Merrill Lynch on June 1.

The firm’s $44.50 price objective implied upside of 15% from the prior $38.81 close. The shares continued to rise and hit $39.50 the day after the call, and they closed at $40.13 on Friday.

Coca-Cola European Partners’ 52-week range is $37.73 to $54.54, and the consensus price target is still listed as around $51.00 for even more potential implied upside if the analysts are right.

Deere

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs on June 3, and the firm raised its price target to $105 from $87, compared with a prior $84.06 close. Deere has a consensus price target of $78.26 and a 52-week range of $70.16 to $98.23. Its shares closed up 1.8% at $85.57 on Friday, and the move was on above average volume.

Goldman Sachs is calling for upside north of 25%, when the dividend yield of almost 3% is included.

Pure Storage

On June 2, UBS raised Pure Storage Inc. (NYSE: PSTG) to Buy from Neutral and gave an upside price target of $16. that was up some 41% from the prior $11.31 closing price. Its shares were up over 5% at $12 at one point shortly after the opening bell that day, although they were at $11.70 later in the day and closed at $11.70 on Friday.

Pure Storage has a consensus analyst target of $17.55 and a 52-week range of $11.05 to $20.60. The market cap is $2.4 billion.

Whole Foods

Could Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM) be back from the dead? The organic and natural foods giant was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse on June 1. The firm’s price target was raised to $40 from $30, well above the prior $32.35 closing price. The consensus price target of $29.71 at the time was back to a consensus of $30.19 after the call. Even Jim Cramer talked up the stock.

Whole Foods shares ended the week at $34.07. The company has a market cap of $11 billion, and the 52-week trading range is $28.07 to $41.97.

Credit Suisse said about Whole Foods:

We see a unique opportunity to own this leading specialty food player while still in the early stages of a repositioning that should reinvigorate growth. A 50% drop in the stock from its peak provides an attractive entry point … while downside seems limited by poor sentiment. … Earnings could remain choppy near-term, but we see a recovery taking hold within 18 months.

Whole Foods is cutting prices, accelerating private brand penetration, aggressively reducing costs, enhancing marketing, investing in technology, and rolling out a value format in 365. The company has been slow to anticipate accelerating competition, but this innovative management team’s aggressive response looks supportive of a return to growth.

Yelp

More important than Maxim Group starting Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) with a Buy rating on June 3 was that it was assigned a $41 price target. This target implies well over 50% upside to the prior $26.52 closing price.

Yelp had a consensus analyst price target of $25.71 going into that call, and it has a 52-week range of $14.53 to $48.50.Maxim thinks Yelp can leverage its user-generated content and deepen its merchant relationships. What felt like a letdown about this call is that the market ignored it after a weak jobs number on Friday.

Yelp shares were down 0.7% at $26.35 late on Friday, but a late-day recovery took shares up to a 9 cent gain to $26.61 by the closing bell.