Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Chevron, Chipotle, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, GoPro, IBM, Merck, Petrobras, UnitedHealth, Visa, Zynga and More

October 18, 2017 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks hit new highs this week, and Wednesday looks to be the day that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will vault through 23,000. Dow futures were up 91 points and S&P futures were up four points. The trend that has dominated continually and often surprisingly for more than five years is that investors keep finding new reasons to buy their favorite stocks after every major sell-off. Those same investors are also hunting 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, while 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 Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale. BMO Capital Markets also downgraded Chevron to Market Perform from Outperform. It was also maintained as Overweight and the price target was raised to $130 from $120 at Morgan Stanley. Shares were indicated down 0.5% at $119.60 on Wednesday, in a 52-week trading range of $99.87 to $120.89 and with a consensus analyst target price of $121.11.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral with a new $285 price target (versus a $329.30 prior close) at Merrill Lynch. Chipotle was up 2.8% at $329.30 on Tuesday but was indicated to open down 3.1% at $318.99 on Wednesday. Its 52-week range is $295.11 to $499.00, and its consensus target price was $371.04.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) was maintained as Underperform but its target price was raised to $85 from $81 at Morgan Stanley. Exxon was up 0.2% at $82.96 on Tuesday and was indicated down 0.5% at $82.56 on Wednesday.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) was reiterated as Overweight and the target price was raised to $287 from $265 at Morgan Stanley. The stock closed down 2.6% at $236.09 after earnings on Tuesday, and its shares were up 0.4% at $237.09 on Wednesday. Goldman Sachs has a 52-week range of $172.51 to $255.15 and a $243.68 consensus target price.

GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Longbow Research. GoPro unveiled new products this week. Its shares closed up 1.65% at $9.23 on Tuesday and were indicated to open up 4% at $9.60 on Wednesday. The 52-week range is $7.14 to $15.12, and the consensus target price was $9.89.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was trading up over 5% early Wednesday after posting earnings that beat expectations with affirmed 2017 guidance. This was still its 22nd consecutive quarter of revenue decline. Wedbush maintained a Neutral rating and a $155 target price. UBS maintained its Neutral rating but raised its target to $160 from $152.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) was up 1.6% at $64.24 after the FDA accepted regulatory submission for Lynparza in metastatic breast cancer. Merck was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $125 from $106 at Oppenheimer. Visa was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $124 from $115 at Citigroup. It closed down 0.7% at $107.54 on Tuesday, and its consensus target price was $116.09.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) was maintained as Outperform with a $4.65 price target (versus a $3.84 close) at Wedbush. The firm noted strong revenues from CSR and Poker but is wondering about the pipeline and thinking it may need a new hit to before the share price can rise meaningfully.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras for the rest of us, was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Societe Generale. It closed up 0.1% at $10.49 on Tuesday and was indicated up another 0.1% at $10.51 on Wednesday.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) saw its shares rise 5.5% to $203.89 on Tuesday after hopes of a bipartisan deal to help fund health insurance subsidies. UnitedHealth was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $215 from $205 at Oppenheimer. Citigroup reiterated its Buy rating on United Health and raised its target to $235 from $213.

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Other key analyst calls were seen as follows:

Aaron’s Inc. (NYSE: AAN) was started as Neutral with a $42 fair value estimate (versus a $41.55 close) at Janney.

Athene Holding Ltd. (NYSE: ATH) was started as Buy with a $63 price target (versus a $54.23 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Beacon Roofing Supply Inc. (NASDAQ: BECN) was started as Market Perform with a $58 price target (versus a $52.99 close) at Wells Fargo.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) was reiterated as Buy and the target price was raised to $72 from $55 at Citigroup.

Equinix Inc. (NASDAQ: EQIX) was started with a Neutral rating and assigned a $480 price target (versus a $461.58 close) at UBS.

Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNRC) was maintained as Hold but the price target was raised to $48 from $41 (versus a $50.49 close) at Stifel.

Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) managed to close up 2% at $47.52 after earnings were aided by a tax benefit. Stifel reiterated its Hold rating and raised its target price to $49 from $48 after the report.

Immuron Ltd. (NASDAQ: IMRN) was started as Buy with a $15 price target (versus a $5.03 close) at H.C. Wainwright.

Lam Research Corp. (NASDAQ: LRCX) was up 1.5% at $197.50 on Wednesday. It was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $213 from $176 at Morgan Stanley. The firm B. Riley reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $250 from $220. Stifel reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $235 from $215.

Lattice Semiconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: LSCC) was raised to Buy from Hold and the price target was raised to $7.00 from $6.50 (versus a $5.50 close) at Jefferies.

Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) was started with a Sell rating and assigned a $71 price target (versus a $74.75 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) was reiterated as Outperform rating and its price target was raised to $160 from $145 (versus a $145.93 close) at Oppenheimer.

MobileIron Inc. (NASDAQ: MOBL) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.

Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE: RIO) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. Its American depositary shares were indicated down 1.6% at $48.99 on Wednesday.

SBA Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: SBAC) was started with a Buy rating and given a $175 price target (versus a $148.46 close) at UBS.

Ulta Beauty Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight with a $210 price target (versus a $202.28 close) at Piper Jaffray.

Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) was reiterated as Underweight but the price target was raised to $4.00 from $3.50 (versus a $5.26 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Tuesday’s top analyst calls were in shares of Biogen, Carbonite, Celgene, Emerson Electric, Kinder Morgan, Netflix, UnitedHealth and many more.

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