Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Albermarle, Anadarko, Costco, Cree, Kraft Heinz, Netflix, Valero, Disney and More

October 6, 2017 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were indicated to open lower on Friday. The markets have to absorb an unexpected loss of 40,000 private sector payrolls rather than a projected gain of 80,000, but that is also heavily influenced by hurricanes Irma and Harvey. We also have to consider that the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial Average just hit all-time highs all over again.

The one resounding and undeniable trend of this more than eight year bull market is that investors have kept managing to find new reasons to buy stocks after every market sell-off. Those same investors are also on the hunt for new investing and trading ideas with their capital.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day. Our goal is to find new investing and trading ideas for our readers. Some of the top analyst reports cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or to avoid.

The consensus analyst price target data and valuation metrics are from the Thomson Reuters sell-side research service. Additional color and commentary has been added on most of these daily analyst calls.

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls from Friday, October 6, 2017.

Albermale Corp. (NYSE: ALB) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $142 price target (versus a $139.66 prior close) at Goldman Sachs. The move follows other recent analyst downgrades, but they seem to be after a huge gain from the lithium player. Albermarle was up 1% on Thursday but was down 2.5% at $136.20 in Friday’s early trading indications. Its 52-week trading range was $76.32 to $140.10 and its consensus analyst target price is $128.56.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $62 price target at Atlantic Equities. The stock was down 0.75% at $49.05 on Thursday and indicated down another 0.2% at $48.95 on Friday. Anadarko has a 52-week range of $39.96 to $73.33 and a consensus target price of $60.65.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) was up 1.1% ahead of earnings and down 4% at $160.40 afterward. Morgan Stanley downgraded Costco to Equal Weight from Overweight and handily lowered its target to $165 from $190. JPMorgan has said its earnings can now support both the bullish and bearish cases. Costco has a 52-week range of $142.11 to $183.18, and it had a consensus target price of $181.41 ahead of earnings.

Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral with a $28 price target (versus a $29.57 close) at JPMorgan. The 52-week range is $20.50 to $31.64, and the consensus price target was already down at $23.60. Cree shares were indicated down 3.3% at $28.60 after the Friday morning downgrade.

Kraft Heinz Co. (NASDAQ: KHC) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $90 price target (versus a $78.25 close) at Piper Jaffray. The 52-week range is $76.76 to $97.77, and the consensus target price of $90.29.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) was up 5.4% to $194.39, an all-time high closing price, after raising its domestic prices on Thursday. The streaming media giant was reiterated as Hold at Jefferies, but the firm raised its target price to $180 from $165. It was reiterated as Underperform at Wedbush Securities, but the firm did raise its target price to $88 from $82 after incorporating the new domestic price increases.

Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight with a $78 price target (versus a $77.27 close) at JPMorgan. The 52-week range is $52.64 to $78.64, and the consensus target price of $76.59. The stock price was indicated down 1.4% at $76.15 after this call.

Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) was maintained as Hold but the price target was cut to $103 from $110 at Jefferies. The firm feels that the positive moves of direct-to-consumer and taking control of its content library may help monetization, but they also bring Disney’s future earnings potential into the spotlight.

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Other top analyst calls were seen as follows:

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) was started with a Neutral rating and assigned a $60 price (versus a $54.92 close) at JPMorgan. While this is a Neutral rating, this call’s 9.25% implied upside (not including the 2% dividend yield) is still within some of the Buy and Outperform rating thresholds out there for new coverage of large cap stocks. Abbott has a 52-week range of $37.38 to $55.11, and it has a consensus target price of $55.76.

Alarm.com Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: ALRM) was started with a Hold rating and assigned a $43 price target (versus a $47.03 close) at Jefferies. The firm thinks it is a leader in home automation and security and is well positioned for the connected home trends ahead, but it also believes that its growth and leadership are fully reflected in the price.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) was started as Neutral at Instinet with a $14 price target (versus a $13.10 close).

Hain Celestial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HAIN) was started with a Market Perform rating and assigned a $45 price target (versus a $42.35 close) at Sanford Bernstein.

Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) was maintained Neutral with a $45 price target (versus a drop of 4% to close at $46.85 on Thursday) at Wedbush, noting that there are a number of moving parts that makeup an always-dynamic third quarter but its retail sales continue to languish. Harley’s 52-week range is $45.53 to $63.40, and it has a $50.62 consensus price target.

HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) was downgraded to Underweight from Neutral with a $34 price target (versus a $35.85 close) at JPMorgan.

Keane Group Inc. (NYSE: FRAC) was started as Underweight with a $16 price target (versus a $17.19 close) at Barclays.

La Quinta Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LQ) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.

Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHP) was started as Buy and assigned a $106 price target (versus a $91.30 close) at Argus.

NICE Ltd. (NYSE: NICE) was started as Hold with an $84 target price (versus an $81.33 close) at Jefferies. The firm feels that NICE is well positioned to capitalize on disruptive trends but the base scenario reflects decelerating revenue growth for organic NICE revenues and inContact revenues.

OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE: OGE) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo. At $36.32, it has a 52-week range of $29.57 to $37.41 and a consensus target price was $37.25.

Saratoga Investment Corp. (NYSE: SAR) was started with a Neutral rating and $21.50 Fair Value Estimate (versus a $21.55 close) at Janney.

Triumph Bancorp (NYSE: TBK) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley. Its shares closed up 1.5% at $76.95 on Thursday and were indicated to open up almost 7% higher at $82.19

Xylem Inc. (NYSE: XYL) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $70 from $63 at Janney, noting upward revisions due to positive impacts from the hurricanes and due to favorable forex changes.

Thursday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included CarMax, DowDuPont, Gilead Sciences, GrubHub, Microsoft, Nike, Western Digital and many more.

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