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Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Albermarle, Applied Materials, Caterpillar, Electronic Arts, GoPro, GrubHub, Pandora, Snap, United Tech and More

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Stocks rose all four days of the first week of trading in 2018, but they were indicated to open marginally lower in the major indexes on Monday. The bull market is now two months shy of being nine years old, and investors have made money buying every sell-off for the past five years. Now investors are having to decide how they want to be positioned in 2018 for accelerated economic growth, higher earnings growth and tax reform. Those same investors are also looking for new ideas.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week to find new investing and trading ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of the daily analyst reports and research reports cover stocks to buy. Others cover stocks to sell or to avoid.

Additional color and commentary has been added on most of these daily analyst calls. Consensus analyst price targets mentioned and other valuation metrics are from the Thomson Reuters sell-side research service.

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and other research calls from Monday, January 8, 2018.

Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird. The stock closed up 1.15% at $131.72 on Friday and was indicated up 1.36% at $133.51 on Monday. Albermarle has a 52-week trading range of $89.09 to $144.99 and a consensus analyst price target of $144.21.

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) was raised to Strong Buy from Buy and has a $72 price objective at Needham. It closed up 0.57% at $54.60 on Friday and was indicated up 1.35% at $55.33 on Monday. Applied Materials has a 52-week range of $32.21 to $60.89, and the consensus price target is $67.40.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $200 price objective at JPMorgan, noting that tax reform and strong demand are better than expected. Caterpillar closed up 1.6% at $161.96 on Friday and was indicated up another 1.3% at $164.13 on Monday. It has a prior 52-week range of $90.34 to $162.05 and a consensus price target of $151.27.

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) was raised to Outperform with a $130 price objective from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets. Shares closed up 4.8% at $112.39 on Friday and were indicated up another 1.3% at $113.90 on Monday. The 52-week range is $77.94 to $122.79, and the consensus price target is $127.56.

GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow Research. After closing down 0.66% at $7.52 on Friday, the stock was indicated down 4.8% at $7.16 on Monday after this call. GoPro has a 52-week range of $7.14 to $11.89 and a consensus price target of $10.17.

GrubHub Inc. (NYSE: GRUB) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform with a $70 price target (versus a $72.97 prior close) at Wedbush Securities. The firm noted that GrubHub’s appropriate valuation has been reached even considering its market opportunity and competitive positioning. The 52-week range is $32.43 to $74.81. The consensus analyst target is $64.91.

Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight and has a $6 price objective at Morgan Stanley. After closing up 4.2% at $5.17 on Friday, Pandora was indicated down just over 4% at $4.96 on Monday. The shares have a 52-week range of $4.44 to $13.72 and a consensus price target of $8.42.

Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $15 price target (versus a $14.50 close) at Jefferies. It closed down 0.6% at $14.50 on Friday and was indicated down 1.4% at $14.30 on Monday. Snap has a 52-week range of $11.28 to $29.44 and a consensus price target of $12.22.

United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) was raised to Buy from Neutral and has a $173 price objective at Goldman Sachs, noting strong engine sales ahead. After closing up 0.86% at $131.57 on Friday, the stock was indicated up 1.8% at $134.00 on Monday. That would mark a new high above its prior $132.36 high. UTC was already among those getting multiple analyst upgrades since the end of 2017.

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Other key analyst calls were shown as follows:

Arista Networks Inc. (NYSE: ANET) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $270 from $200 at Oppenheimer. The firm even named Arista as a 2018 Top Pick series.

BB&T Corp. (NYSE: BBT) was raised to Equal Weight from Underweight at Morgan Stanley.

CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) was raised to Buy from Hold at Berenberg.

Cirrus Logic Inc. (NASDAQ: CRUS) was downgraded to Sector Weight from Overweight at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $210 from $180 at Oppenheimer. The firm thinks new drivers are emerging for Costco into that can drive its share price higher.

FirstCash Inc. (NYSE: FCFS) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $75 from $66 (versus a $68.60 close) at Wedbush. The higher target was driven by continued gains in Latin America, expected improvements in the profitably and same-store sales growth rates of the acquired Cash America stores, and share repurchases.

Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ: HIBB) was raised to Buy from Hold at Canaccord Genuity.

Hilton Hotels Corp. (NYSE: HLT) was raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James.

Hortonworks Inc. (NASDAQ: HDP) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Barclays.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

Mindbody Inc. (NYSE: MB) was raised to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

MuleSoft Inc. (NYSE: MULE) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: AMTD) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.

Ultimate Software Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTI) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Mizuho.

Friday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Cheniere Energy, Cisco, Eli Lilly, Kroger, Nokia, Rite Aid, Roku, Teva Pharmaceutical, Tyson, Walgreens and over 20 more.

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