Jefferies Makes Huge Energy Addition to Franchise Picks Stocks List

October 17, 2016 by 247lee

With earnings reports for the third quarter underway, and the fourth quarter of 2016 in full swing, many of the top companies we follow on Wall Street are making some changes to the lists of their high conviction stock picks for clients. With the market continuing to trade to near all-time highs, it makes sense to examine the lists and make some changes as the rest of the year could have additional volatility as the political cycle could prove to be very volatile component.

In a recent research note, the analysts at Jefferies make a big move by adding National Fuel Gas Co. (NYSE: NFG), a top energy company, to the firm’s well-respected Franchise Picks list of stocks to Buy. This is an off-the-radar pick that is an outstanding addition to the portfolio.

This diversified energy company is headquartered in western New York and operates an integrated collection of natural gas and oil assets across five business segments. Jefferies analysts added the stock to the Franchise Picks list because believe the company is an outstanding addition at current levels. Their report noted:

The analysts believes the company is in a unique position to have the N. Access pipeline in New York approved and with that he lifted his some-of-the-parts analysis valuation to $67 from $60. Even without the N. Access benefits, the company trades at ~17.4x fiscal 2017 earnings-per-share and offers a 3% dividend yield, which is attractive relative to gas utilities, and in our view still leaves room for upside even without the pipeline.

National Fuel Gas investors receive a 3% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $67, and the Wall Street consensus target is $62.50. The shares closed on Friday at $54.03.

In addition, here are the top technology companies in the Jefferies Franchise Picks portfolio

Activision Blizzard

This company reported very solid second-quarter results last week and remains a top pick on Wall Street. Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) develops and publishes online, personal computer (PC), video game console, handheld, mobile and tablet games worldwide.

The company develops and publishes interactive entertainment software products through retail channels or digital downloads and downloadable content to a range of gamers. The company’s Call of Duty franchise has propelled earnings for this industry, but some analysts feel the company could earn up to $3 per share by 2018 if it can optimize the King Digital advertising opportunities and unlock synergies.

Jefferies notes that the new Overwatch game has blown past 10 million users since its release in late May and already has generated $500 million since its launch, more than the analysts’ projections of $400 million for the year.

Shareholders receive a small 0.6% dividend. Jefferies has a $55 price target. The consensus target is lower at $47.77. The stock closed Friday at $43.69.


The search giant continues to expand and is even working on a driverless car now. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) provides online advertising services in the United States, the United Kingdom and rest of the world. It offers performance and brand advertising services, and it operates through Google and Other Bets segments. The Google segment includes principal internet products, such as Search, Ads, Commerce, Maps, YouTube, Apps, Cloud, Android, Chrome and Google Play, as well as technical infrastructure and newer efforts, such as virtual reality.

The Google segment also sells hardware products, comprising Chromecast, Chromebooks and Nexus. The Other Bets segment includes businesses such as Access/Google Fiber, Calico, Nest, Verily, GV, Google Capital, X and other initiatives.

Top Wall Street analysts point out the company reported better than expected second-quarter results with the best top-line growth since the third quarter of 2014. Paid clicks came in above Wall Street estimates, growing 29%, while Google websites paid click growth was 37% with YouTube and mobile accounting for much of this strength. EBIT margins also continued to see outstanding growth at 39%, versus less than 38% in the same period last year.

The $1,000 Jefferies price target is above the consensus target of $939.50. The shares closed Friday at $804.60.

NXP Semiconductors

This company is considered a top play for investors looking for a chip stock with Internet of Things exposure and is a potential acquisition candidate. The NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) merger with Freescale Semiconductor was widely applauded on Wall Street, and many analysts believe the merger is transforming the company into a powerhouse. It made NXP the fourth largest semiconductor company in the industry.

It is also important to note that the combined company has become the number one supplier in auto semiconductors, number one supplier in global microcontrollers, as well as a dominant supplier in mobile payments.

NXP is getting its chips into high-growth areas such as contactless mobile payments, the Internet of Things, mobile-phone charging, increased cellular data consumption and LED lighting. The two business segments that cover these products grew 39% and 29% year over year, very impressive numbers. With a diversified product base, the stock remains a solid buy, albeit a touch pricey compared to others.

The Jefferies price target is $130, and the consensus estimate is $110.30. The stock closed Friday at $101.40.


This is a top chip stock that has reported strong earnings this year, and posted through the roof second-quarter numbers last month. NVIDIA Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) is one of the leaders when it comes to supplying graphics processing technology for the 3D graphics market, including desktop graphics processors and gaming consoles.

NVIDIA is also moving into visual computing chips for cars, mobile devices and supercomputers. The company has a technology partnership with electric car maker Tesla Motors. It has been able to use its ability to leverage past investments, with a more controlled spending structure ahead on unified, which enables strong cash flow that is allowing a focus on capital return, which is currently estimated to be $1 billion next year.

Top Wall Street analysts feel the stock is maturing to a platform company from a pure chip company, and Jefferies sees the stock continuing to benefit from four secular trends: VR, PC gaming, chips in the automobile industry and graphic processing units in the cloud.

The Jefferies price objective is posted at $73, and the consensus is set at $64.85. The shares closed Friday at $65.99.

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A top new addition to the Franchise Picks portfolio and four of the technology stocks that Jefferies views as its top high conviction picks. All these companies make good sense for aggressive long-term stock portfolios.