Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Barrick Gold, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, PNC Financial, Tonix Pharma, Spirit Realty and More


Stocks were indicated marginally lower on Wednesday, and the current market action has the markets looking for the next trend, despite being close to all-time highs. Regardless of where the market heads, it seems quite clear that investors want to buy stocks after every market sell-off. Investors are also looking for new ideas to generate income or gains ahead.

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

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

Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) was started as Sell with a $15.20 price target (versus a $19.04 prior close) at Berenberg. It was part of a call in which other key gold miners were started as Hold. Barrick Gold has a 52-week trading range of $5.91 to $23.47 and a consensus analyst price target of $23.54.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) was started with a Buy rating at Deutsche Bank. The stock closed at $82.08, and it has a 52-week range of $56.36 to $84.73 and a consensus target price of $72.56. Despite business being so soft, investors are betting strongly on the turnaround for 2017 and later, and Caterpillar remains the top performing Dow Jones Industrial Average stock so far in 2016.

ConocoPhillips Corp. (NYSE: COP) was raised to Hold from Sell at Jefferies, and the price target was raised to $40 from $37 (versus a $41.00 close). This valuation call is because ConocoPhillips has been one of the most aggressive cost cutters in the sector, and the firm thinks it can maintain its cash cycle at $49 per barrel in oil.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) was reiterated as Buy and the price objective was raised to $100 from $90 at Merrill Lynch (versus an $89.48 close). The firm said that PNC has three reasons to buy, and it was named as its top pick for the second half of 2016. The consensus price target is $92.89, and the 52-week range is $77.40 to $97.50.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: TNXP) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the price target was slashed to $1 from $5 at Cantor Fitzgerald. The stock lost over 57% and closed at $0.92 on 20 times normal volume after a drug failure, but there might still be some hope for the drug as a PTSD treatment.

Spirit Realty Capital Inc. (NYSE: SRC) was started as Buy with a fair value estimate of $14.50 (versus a $13.59 close) at Janney. The firm feels that it has a discounted valuation and leverage improvements as reasons to own the company, plus its 5.3% yield is attractive. Morgan Stanley also raised it to Overweight from Equal Weight, and their price target was raised to $13 from $11.

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Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades were seen as follows:

Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: BIO) was reiterated as Buy at Jefferies, and the price target was raised to $225 from $200 (versus a $151.66 close), as it was called defensive and cheap.

Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

DineEquity Inc. (NYSE: DIN) was raised to Overweight from Sector Weight with a $90 price target (versus a $78.29 close) at KeyBank Capital Markets.

Eastman Chemical Co. (NYSE: EMN) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Intersil Corp. (NASDAQ: ISIL) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $21 price target (versus a $19.75 close) at Stifel.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: LGND) was raised to Hold from Sell and the price target was cut to $105 from $110 (versus a $108.04 close) at Deutsche Bank.

Leidos Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LDOS) was started as Buy with a $54 price target (versus a $41.55 close) at Argus.

Maxim Integrated Products Inc. (NASDAQ: MXIM) was downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) was started as Neutral at Goldman Sachs with a $12 price target (versus a $12.94 close). Jefferies maintained its Hold rating and $13 price target.

Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: MNTA) was downgraded to Sell from Hold with a $6 price target (versus a $12.23 close) at Maxim.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus.

Spectra Energy Corp. (NYSE: SE) was downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy with a $44 price target (versus a $41.00 close) at Raymond James.

Wesco International Inc. (NYSE: WCC) was downgraded to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer.

More grouped research calls have been shown as follows:

Tuesday’s top analyst calls were in Biogen, Broadcom, Dollar Tree, Gilead, Mondelez, Urban Outfitters and a dozen more companies.

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