Stocks were strong as could as could be at the end of 2016 on the wave of a massive post-election rally. They have traded only marginally higher so far in 2017 and are looking for direction on Thursday. Investors are still searching for deeper value and growth opportunities ahead, and they still have the “buy all pullbacks” mentality despite a bull market that is almost eight years old.
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 others cover stocks to sell or avoid. As a reminder, analysts can be wrong and many outside forces can interrupt a very bullish view overnight.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out 2016 up 13.4% at 19,762.60; the S&P 500 ended the year at 2,238.83, up 9.5%; and Nasdaq closed at 5,383.12, for a gain of just 7.5%. There was a path to Dow 22,000 in December, but that will have to take place over the course of 2017 or even into 2018.
These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday morning:
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) was raised to Neutral from Underperform and the price target was raised to $400 from $370 (versus a $381.86 prior close) at Wedbush. The firm believes that Chipotle’s expectations are now at a trough.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HLT) was downgraded to Sell from Hold with a $47 price target (versus a $58.00 close) at Berenberg Securities. The shares have a 52-week trading range of $33.16 to $59.76.
Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) was lower after releasing its sales numbers, along with store closures and layoffs. The stock was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank and the target was cut to $34 from $47. Jefferies maintained a Hold but cut its target to $35 from $40. Shares were indicated down about 10% at $32.15, in a 52-week range of $29.94 to $45.50.
Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) was already rated as Outperform at RBC Capital Markets, but now it is listed as a Top Pick for 2017, and the firm raised its target price to $130 from $115 (versus a $106.39 close). It has a consensus analyst target price of $118.90, so RBC went from under consensus to above consensus. It also has a 52-week range of $78.52 to $108.93.
Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ: MYL) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. The firm expects some of the drug price woes to continue, even in generics. Shares closed at $39.63 and they have a 52-week range of $33.60 to $54.23. The consensus price target is still up at $50.89.
Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price objective was raised to $86 from $68 (versus a $67.89 close) at Merrill Lynch. The firm believes that Valero likely will have the most disciplined reallocation of incremental free cash flow, most likely through share buybacks. It already has a 3.5% dividend yield. The 52-week range is $46.88 to $72.49, and the consensus price target is $69.69.
Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform and the price target was raised to $90 from $66 (versus a $70.54 close) at BMO Capital Markets. The consensus price target is $77.20, and the 52-week range is $34.99 to $72.01.
Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) was downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight with a $110 price target (versus a $120.25 close) at Morgan Stanley. This is after a solid gain and is a valuation call. The 52-week range is $101.23 to $123.09. The consensus analyst target is about $117.00.
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Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Abercrombie & Fitch, Altria, Anthem, United Continental, Blackstone, AMAG Pharmaceuticals and also over a dozen more.
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