Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Amex, Cisco, Eli Lilly, First Solar, McDonald's, Microsoft, US Steel and More

Stocks were indicated higher on Thursday morning after the European Central Bank kept rates steady and after a U.S. durable goods report for March showed a smaller gain than expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21 points on Wednesday when the tax cuts were shown, but the Dow had risen 450 points over the two prior trading days.

The bull market is now more than eight years old and investors have found reason after reason to step in and buy the market sell-offs. Those same investors are also still looking for new trading and investing ideas.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week in an effort to find new ideas for our readers. Some of the key analyst reports cover stocks to buy, and other reports cover stocks to sell or to avoid. Color has been added on many of the following calls, and the consensus analyst price targets referenced are from Thomson Reuters.

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) was raised to Neutral from Reduce and the price target was raised to $78 from $63 (versus an $80.52 prior close) at Instinet. Amex has a 52-week trading range of $57.15 to $82.00, and it had a consensus analyst target price of $81.60.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) was raised to Outperform from Underperform and the price target was raised to $40 from $27 (versus a $33.40 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm feels Cisco is now transitioning the right way.

Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus. Shares closed at $80.96, have a 52-week range of $64.18 to $86.72, and have a consensus target price of $88.95. Argus noted that the downgrade is following regulatory setbacks.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was raised to Market Perform from Underperform at JMP Securities. First Solar closed up 5.3% at $28.99 on Wednesday and was indicated up 1.4% at $29.40 on Thursday. The 52-week range is $25.56 to $59.41, and the consensus target price is $34.55.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $158 price target (versus a $140.84 close) at Argus. McDonald’s has a 52-week range of $110.33 to $142.00 and a consensus target price of $135.70.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) was started as Outperform with an $80 price target at Credit Suisse, as a new analyst has been brought on. Microsoft closed at $67.83 and has a 52-week range of $48.04 to $68.31. The consensus target price is $69.55.

United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the price target was cut to $30 from $40 (versus a $22.78 close, after a 26.8% drop) at Deutsche Bank. It now has a 52-week range of $12.77 to $41.83 and its pre-drop consensus analyst target price was $38.62.

Other key analyst calls were seen in the following: