Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Abbott Labs, Baxter, Cisco, NOV, Nucor, P&G, Target and Many More

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Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB)  has risen and risen over the past year as a lithium play. After it rose 1.4% to $113.42 on Wednesday, Oppenheimer started it as Outperform with a $133 price target. Albermarle has a 52-week range of $75.11 to $123.48 and a consensus target price of $123.56.

Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) was reiterated as Outperform with a $125 price target (versus a $110.49  close) at Wedbush Securities, with the firm noting that second-quarter worries look overdone.

Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, with the firm noting that the cruise sector outlook remains superior to the outlook of hotels.

Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW) was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC) was reiterated as Buy and kept on the Focus List at Argus, but the firm did lower its price target to $62 from $71 (versus a $51.05 close). The call noted that recent weakness in Jacobs shares offers a buying opportunity.

Kennametal Inc. (NYSE: KMT) was raised to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Molina Healthcare Inc. (NYSE: MOH) was raised to Overweight from Underweight with a $68 price target (versus a $56.78 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Netshoes Ltd. (NYSE: NETS) was downgraded to Hold and the price target was cut to $18.50 from $22 (versus a $16.18 close) at Jefferies, with the firm noting that macro headwinds persist and that there is limited visibility.

Nutanix Inc. (NYSE: NTNX) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $30 price target (versus a $21.73 close) at Jefferies. The firm believes that Nutanix’s valuation doesn’t fully recognize the value of its software.

Synopsys Inc. (NASDAQ: SNPS) was reiterated as Buy and the price objective was raised to $92 from $87 at Merrill Lynch. Credit Suisse reitrerated its Outperform rating as well.

TechTarget Inc. (NASDAQ: TTGT) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with an $11 price target (versus a $9.90 close)  at Jefferies. This downgrade was based on valuation.

Westport Fuel Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT) was started as Outperform with a $3 price target at Oppenheimer.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Agilent Technologies, Biogen, CB&I, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot, Mylan, Teva Pharmaceutical and more.

According to Merrill Lynch’s strategy team, the S&P 500 forward P/E expanded to 17.7 in July, which marked a more than 13 year high. The firm notes that stocks continue to look attractive relative to bonds, and companies are finally getting it right as share buybacks tend to be rewarded by the market when the purchases are done at cheap valuations. The firm also noted that the July FOMC minutes pointed to balance sheet normalization starting soon, while its participants also debated the next rate hike.

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