Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Amgen, American Express, American Water Works, Celgene, Square and More

Stocks hit all-time highs last week, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained about 100 points under the elusive 20,000 mark on Tuesday. As 2016 comes to an end, the overwhelming trend since the election has been a rising and strong market in which investors have not taken profits in hopes of lower capital gains taxes in 2017.

Investors just keep buying stocks, and the notion that this bull market is almost eight years old has not mattered. One thing that holds true now is that investors have started their move away from bonds and they are looking for new ideas for 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 our readers. Some of these analyst research reports cover stocks to buy, and other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid.

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

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform and the price target was cut to $180 from $200 at Credit Suisse. The firm feels that there is still some upside into Repatha outcomes data in the first quarter of 2017 and that Amgen’s risk/reward is unfavorable since expectations are pretty high after success of the GLAGOV study. Amgen closed at $147.74 on Monday and has a 52-week trading range of $133.64 to $176.85. Analysts have a consensus price target of $181.00 on the shares, and this was a $138.45 stock on the day of the election.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) was reiterated as Hold at Jefferies, but what stood out was that the finance sector was given a more favorable analyst view, and the price target was raised to $75 from $60 in the call. Shares closed at $74.55, in a 52-week range of $50.27 to $75.74. American Express was trading at $67.07 on the day of the election.

American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the fair value estimate was left at $80 (versus a $73.31 prior close) at Janney. This call was on the heels of the analyst meeting last week, noting that key takeaways were the potential effects on the business model from the 2017 U.S. election results, a detailed five-year capital expenditure plan and its 2017 guidance. The 52-week range is $57.97 to $85.24, and the consensus price target is $79.92.

Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, with the same target price of $145, and the firm added the stock to the US Focus List (replacing Eli Lilly). Celgene remains the firm’s top pick because of the best top and bottom line profile of its large cap peers, based on its detailed valuation work and the pipeline catalysts in 2017 and into 2018.

Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ) was started as Buy with an $18 price target at Nomura on Tuesday. This call is just a day after Guggenheim started coverage on Square with a Buy rating and a $16 price target, and last week Needham started Square as a Buy with a $17 price target. Square closed down two cents at $14.36 on Monday but was indicated up 2.8% at $14.76 after this call. The consensus target price is $13.63, and the 52-week range is $8.06 to $15.91.

Also see Tuesday’s analyst calls on Alcoa, Arch Coal, Ciena and many others.

You can follow @Jonogg on Twitter if you want to see daily analyst upgrades and downgrades and other key research items directly on your feed.

Merrill Lynch’s technical view in 2017 is that a low and rising interest rates environment will equate to a 1950s-style equity secular bull. Their view in a post-Brexit capitulation on rates being lower for longer and the seismic shift to a rising rate environment will be a scenario in which the current secular bull trend on a historical reference best fits the 1950 to 1966 secular bull market. The technical analysis team (different from the strategic fundamental team) believes that the secular bull market road map calls for 2,330 to 2,425 on the S&P 500 in 2017.

Monday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Anadarko Petroleum, Bristol-Myers, Comcast, Walt Disney, Merck and many more.

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