Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Apple, Cisco, Citigroup, Dollar General, Groupon, IBM, Merck, Ulta Beauty, UnitedHealth and More

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Stocks managed to close down on Tuesday after a big gap up higher, and now we have stocks looking for another big gap up on Wednesday, with S&P futures up about 10 points and Dow futures up about 100 points. The bull market is nearly nine years old, and the trend that has managed to keep working is for investors to buy the pullbacks. Still, the market was off to such a strong start that some profit-taking has been somewhat expected into earnings season.

Investors are now deciding how to position their portfolios for 2018 and beyond. They are also looking for new ideas to generate income and gains. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week in an effort to find new investing and trading ideas for investors and traders alike.

Some of the 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 Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was reiterated as Buy and the price objective was raised to $220 from $180 at Merrill Lynch. Barclays raised its target price to $174 from $162. Longbow downgraded Apple to Neutral from Buy on Wednesday now that shares hit an all-time high of $179.39 on Tuesday. The consensus analyst target price was last seen at $186.87.

Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE: BYD) was started as Buy and the price target was set at $44 at Argus. The shares closed at $36.16 on Tuesday and were indicated up over 1% at $36.65 on Wednesday.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna. The stock was indicated down about 0.5% at $27.90 on Wednesday.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $45 from $37 at Barclays. Cisco shares closed at $40.54 on Tuesday, and the 52-week range is $29.92 to $41.16. The consensus target price was last seen at $39.81.

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) was up just 0.3% at $77.11 on Tuesday after earnings. Several price target changes were seen on Wednesday: BMO to $75 from $69, Deutsche Bank to $74 from $67 and RBC to $85 from $79. KBW downgraded it to Market Perform from Outperform and lowered its target to $82 from $90. Citigroup was indicated down 0.3% at $76.70 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $55.23 to $78.44.

Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR) was downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna. Its shares were more or less flat on Wednesday’s indications after closing at $56.93 on Tuesday.

Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley. The stock was last indicated up 3% at $11.62, in a 52-week trading range of $9.01 to $21.34.

DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) was started as Outperform and assigned a $112 price target at Oppenheimer. The stock was last seen indicated up almost 1% after closing at $98.44, in a 52-week range of $65.97 to $99.70 and with a $99.89 consensus analyst price target.

Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) was started as Outperform and assigned a $130 price target at Oppenheimer. It closed at $112.88 the prior day, and shares were indicated up at $113.760 in early trading on Wednesday. The 52-week range is $65.35 to $115.89, and the consensus price target is $113.27.

Energizer Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ENR) was up 14.5% at $59.11 on Tuesday after acquiring Spectrum Brands’ batteries and lighting unit. Citigroup raised its target price to $64 from $52, and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey raised its target price to $70 from $60.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) was raised to Neutral from Sell and the price target was raised to $5.40 from $4.70 at Goldman Sachs.

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