Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AbbVie, KLA-Tencor, Marathon Oil, Verifone and Many More

March 10, 2017 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were indicated higher ahead of Friday’s key payrolls and unemployment report, but there has been a softer tone in recent days as some selling has taken place. The bull market is officially eight years old, and we have identified the best performing DJIA stocks since the V-bottom of March 9, 2009. What investors have to consider is that the prevailing trend has been for investors to buy stocks on any serious pullback. Those same investors also are looking for new ideas and overlooked opportunities.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week. The goal is to find new investing ideas and trading ideas for our readers. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy, while others cover stocks to sell or to avoid.

Some color has been added on many of the following calls, and the consensus analyst price targets referenced are from Thomson Reuters. These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Friday, March 10, 2017:

AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) was reiterated as Buy but the price target was raised to $80 from $74 (versus a $64.50 prior close) at Goldman Sachs. AbbVie has a 52-week trading range of $54.41 to $68.12 and a consensus analyst price target of $69.78.

KLA-Tencor Corp. (NASDAQ: KLAC) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $100 from $93 (versus a $91.79 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm believes that there are company specific drivers (Gen-5 and 3D NAND product cycle, foundry capex recovery, IP) that will be incrementally more positive for KLA-Tencor. Its 52-week range is $66.88 to $91.92, and its consensus analyst target is $86.67.

Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) was started with an Outperform rating and assigned a $22 price target (versus a $16.07 close) at FBR Capital Markets. Marathon Oil has a 52-week range of $9.65 to $19.28 and a consensus price target of $20.87.

Verifone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BTIG Research. Shares have recovered this week since reports of a data breach, but this was a post-earnings report in which it actually exceeded its guidance. Shares closed at $20.35 on Thursday. Verifone’s 52-week range is $14.94 to $29.73, and its consensus price target is $20.08.

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Other key analyst calls were seen in the following:

ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ: ASML) was raised to Buy from Neutral at UBS. The price target was raised to €130 from €118  (versus €116.80 in overseas trading). ASML closed at $121.25 in New York trading on Thursday and were indicated up about 2% at $123.63 on Friday. The American depositary shares have a consensus price target of $117.13 and a 52-week range of $98.71 to $127.60.

Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price target was raised to $94 from $84 at Goldman Sachs.

Cara Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CARA) was reiterated as Buy, but the fair value target was raised to $20 from $18 (versus a $17.49 close), at Janney. The call was based on four clinical catalysts in four months.

EnLink Midstream LLC (NYSE: ENLC) was started as Neutral with a $21 fair value target (versus a $19.50 close) at Janney. As below, they feel the positives are mostly priced into the units now.

EnLink Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: ENLK) was started as Neutral with a $20 fair value target (versus an $18.60 close) at Janney. While the firm noted that EnLink Partners has the best-in-class exposure to robust long-term volume growth in the STACK, it feels that the unit price mostly reflects this outlook.

Enova International Inc. (NYSE: ENVA) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the fair value target was raised to $16 from $13 at Janney. The firm’s overriding concern on Enova had been the sustainability of the company’s profitability when the CFPB’s payday loan installment rules go into effect, but they now are more convinced that this proposed rule-set will never actually make its way into an active law.

FMSA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: FMSA) was raised to Buy from Hold, but the price target was lowered to $10 from $12 (versus a $7.30 close), at Jefferies. The firm is comfortable with supply and demand issues in fracking sand, but the noted tempering price assumptions and slow raw frac volume growth in 2018 to 2020.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IONS) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral and the price target was cut to $25 from $28 (versus a $45.80 close) at Goldman Sachs.

MEDNAX Inc. (NYSE: MD) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan.

NextEra Energy Partners L.P. (NYSE: NEP) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $40 from $30 (versus a $30.59 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm believes that there is room to run higher with catalysts ahead. NextEra Energy Partners has a 52-week range of $23.90 to $32.95 and a consensus price target of $34.94.

Thursday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included American Express, Amgen, Encana, Gilead Sciences, Tesla and over a dozen more.

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