Stocks may be well off their highs from December, and they were looking for direction on Thursday. There is still a path for a 21,422 DJIA in late 2017 or the start of 2018. What should matter ahead is that the post-election strength tone remains in stocks, and investors have proven over and over that they want to keep buying any real pullback. The notion that the bull market is almost eight years old now and that valuations remain high just has not mattered.
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, while some others cover stocks to sell or to avoid.
In these analyst calls, we have included some color where appropriate, and Thomson Reuters was used for consensus analyst price target data. These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday:
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was reiterated as Buy at Merrill Lynch, and the firm raised its price objective on Apple to $140 from $130. The firm sees the iPhone 8 likely to be a super-long cycle instead of boom-bust cycle. Apple has a 52-week range of $89.47 to $120.50, and it has a consensus analyst price target of $132.75.
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) was indicated up 6.5% at $141.93 on Thursday after earnings were shown to have been strong with international subscribers beating expectations (over 7 million versus 5 million expected). Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price objective to $154. Macquarie raised its rating to Neutral from Underperform on Netflix. Wedbush Securities said it continues to believe that Netflix is overvalued, but admitted it is wrong and raised its target to $68 from $60. Jefferies maintained its Underperform rating but raised its target to $95 from $80. Netflix had a consensus analyst target price of $127.38.
Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) was started with an Underperform rating and assigned a $55 price target (versus a $53.27 prior closing price) at CLSA. Nike has a 52-week range of $49.01 to $65.44, and it has a consensus analyst target price of $61.90.
Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $305 price target (versus a prior closing price of $238.36) at Morgan Stanley. Tesla shares were indicated up 4% at $248 on Thursday, versus a 52-week range of $141.05 to $269.34 and versus a prior consensus analyst price target of $238.75.
Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo. Coca-Cola shares closed at $41.29 on Wednesday and were indicated down 0.6% at $41.05 on Thursday. The stock had a consensus analyst target price of $45.09, and it has a 52-week trading range of $39.88 to $47.13.
Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $83 price target (versus a prior closing price of $72.29) at HSBC Securities. Comcast has a 52-week range of $53.18 to $72.94 and it had a consensus analyst price target of $78.38.
CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) was reiterated as Buy with a higher target at Argus, and Merrill Lynch raised its price objective to $45 based on the base scenario earnings analysis suggesting upside risk to EPS of 13%, 32% and 51% in the years ahead. CSX was raised to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley, and Scotia Capital raised its rating to Outperform from Sector Perform. CSX was last seen up 17% after news of management change and on activist efforts.
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Other key analyst upgrades and downgrades were in shares of the following companies on Thursday:
Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $65 price target (versus a $61.74 prior closing price) at Soc-Gen.
Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with a $22 price target (versus a $21.31 prior closing price) at Bernstein.
Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) was raised to Neutral from Sell with a $46 target price (versus a $46.48 closing price) at UBS.
Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) was maintained as Buy at Goldman Sachs, but the firm removed it from the prized Conviction Buy list. Its price target is $97.
GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral with an $8 price target at Goldman Sachs. GNC closed down 1.1% at $11.15 on Wednesday and was indicated down 4.9% more at $10.60 on Thursday.
Kate Spade & Co. (NYSE: KATE) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy and the price objective was lowered to $20 (versus an $18.28 prior closing price) at Merrill Lynch. The firm noted that Kate Spade shares are fairly valued following a 26% rise since late December when merger speculation drove the shares.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) was started with an Underperform rating with a $73 price target at CLSA.
National Oilwell Varco Inc. Co. (NYSE: NOV) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $44 price target (versus a prior closing price of $37.42) at Soc-Gen.
Tesaro Inc. (NASDAQ: TSRO) saw its target raised to $165 at Merrill Lynch, but that is versus a prior $149.26 closing price. The firm has more robust expectations for niraparib ahead of its June PDUFA.
Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $37 price target at CLSA. Under Armour closed down 3.2% at $25.35 on Wednesday and was indicated up 1.7% at $25.78 on Thursday.
Argus maintained its Hold ratings on Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and on Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) now that both have released their fourth-quarter earnings reports.
Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades were seen in shares of Baker Hughes, Halliburton, J.C. Penney, Palo Alto Networks, Schlumberger, Walt Disney, Wells Fargo and over a dozen more.
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