Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcoa, Deere, Ford, GM, McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and More

December 1, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

Despite an OPEC oil production cut, the stock market did not follow oil’s surge higher on Wednesday, and Thursday morning is looking to open soft to flat in early trading indications. What remains in place at this point is the theme of investors proving at every opportunity that they will buy stocks on any real pullbacks. Those same investors are also looking for new ideas to generate gains or income.

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

On a brief note on oil, many of the secondary and third tier oil companies rallied 15% to 30% — could it have been too much considering OPEC’s history of not sticking to quotas and cuts?

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

Alcoa Corp. (NYSE: AA) was started with a Sell rating and a $26 price target (versus a $28.97 prior close) at Deutsche Bank. Alcoa has recently transformed, and we show a post-adjustment trading range of $20.00 to $32.19, with a consensus analyst price target of $27.83. This was a $22 stock just a month ago, and shares were indicated down 1.3% at $28.58.

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $124 price objective (versus a $100.20 close) at Merrill Lynch. It has a 52-week range of $70.16 to $104.83 and consensus analyst price target of $98.05.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) was started as Neutral with a $13 price target (versus an $11.96 close) at Macquarie. The 52-week range is $11.02 to $14.38, and the consensus analyst target is $12.72.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) was started as Outperform with a $44 price target (versus a $34.53 close) at Macquarie. GM has a 52-week range of $26.69 to $36.52 and a consensus price target of $35.94.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Guggenheim. It has a 52-week range of $110.33 to $131.96 and a consensus price target of $127.20.

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive with a $56 price target (versus a $52.92 close) at Susquehanna, in a broader banking downgrade (see below) after huge post-election runs higher. Wells Fargo has a 52-week range of $43.55 to $56.24 and a consensus price target of $52.97.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE: BHP) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $46 from $40 (versus a $37.54 close) at Argus. It has a 52-week range of $18.46 to $39.12 and a consensus price target of $36.46.

Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RIO) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $44 from $36 (versus a $37.91 close) at Argus. The 52-week range is $21.89 to $40.19, and the consensus price target is $42.18.

Follow @Jonogg on Twitter to receive the daily analyst calls and research updates directly on your Twitter feed.

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

Alarm.com Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: ALRM) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $37 price target (versus a $29.62 close) at Maxim Group.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $41 from $33 (versus a $32.10 close) at Wedbush Securities, with the firm noting that the Odeon deal provides a global footprint and significant upgrade opportunities.

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.

Azure Power Global Ltd.  (NYSE: AZRE) was started as Overweight with a $23 price target (versus a $17.50 close) at Barclays.

Bluebird Bio Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $81 from $71 at Janney.

Cerner Corp. (NASDAQ: CERN) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform and the price target was cut to $50 from $65 (versus a $49.78 close) at Leerink.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $190 target price at Argus.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) was started as Underperform at Macquarie.

Hawaiian Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: HA) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $56 from $51 (versus a $51.35 close) at Argus.

National Grid PLC (NYSE: NGG) was raised to Buy from Hold with a fair value in the mid-$560s and a formal price target of $62 (versus a $57.07 close) at Argus.

Quintiles IMS Holdings Inc. (NYSE: Q) closed down 5% at $76.83 after a management change. It was downgraded to Market Perform from Strong Buy at Raymond James and to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair.

Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Seaspan Corp. (NYSE: SSW) was started as Neutral with a $10 fair value estimate (versus an $8.97 close) at Janney.

Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $130 price target at Citigroup.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Wendy’s Co. (NASDAQ: WEN) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Guggenheim.

Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna.

Here is what to look for in a Trump economy after Steve Mnuchin was nominated as Treasury Secretary and Wilbur Ross was named as Commerce Secretary.

Merrill Lynch has released four top pharma stocks to buy for dividends and growth.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Goldman Sachs, HP, Splunk, UnitedHealth and over a dozen more.