Investing

Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Exxon Mobil, International Paper, JC Penney, Lululemon, Ulta Salon and More

Despite a 4.6% unemployment reading, the number of nonfarm payrolls added in November was more or less in line with expectations. Stocks were indicated to open marginally lower on Friday, and bond yields ticked lower. Still, the theme that remains is that investors have proven over and over that they will buy stocks on any real pullbacks. 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 others cover stocks to sell or avoid.

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

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) was started as Market Perform with a $78 price target at BMO Capital Markets. It has a 52-week trading range of $71.55 to $95.55 and a consensus analyst price target of $88.52.

International Paper Co. (NYSE: IP) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $56 from $49 at Argus. Despite recently outperforming the market, Argus sees value at a discount to peers. The stock has a 52-week range of $32.50 to $49.90 and a consensus target price of $50.93.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $12 price objective at Merrill Lynch. Shares were indicated up 2.9% at $9.53 on Friday, versus a consensus target price of $11.79. The 52-week range is $6.00 to $11.99.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) was downgraded to Sell from Hold with a $44 price target (versus a $56.53 close) at Canaccord Genuity. It was indicated down 2.7% at $55.00 on Friday, and the 52-week range is $44.62 to $81.81. Its consensus price target was $68.00 before this call.

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) closed down 0.8% at $257.41 before earnings and was indicated up 6% at $272.90 afterward. It was reiterated as Outperform with a $300 price target at Oppenheimer. The 52-week range is $146.77 to $278.63, and the consensus price target was $295.72.

Maybe it was true after all that the 15% to 30% rally in more speculative oil and gas stocks was unsustainable after the OPEC production cut announcement. (Hint: OPEC has a history of cheating on quotas and cuts.)

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