Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Altria, Amex, Apple, Chipotle, IBM, Netflix, Nike, Sirius XM, Switch and More

January 19, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were mixed on Friday, but the almost nine-year raging bull market has hit new highs this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average went over 26,100 and had the fastest 1,000 point move on record in 2018, and the trend of buying stocks on any dips remains the winning move. Investors are now deciding how to position their portfolios for 2018 and beyond, and they are looking for new investment ideas.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week. Our goal is 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 Friday, January 19, 2018.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) was raised to Buy from Hold and was given a $25 price target at Argus. The independent research firm sees its new CEO implementing a turnaround plan and beginning to see positive results, after delivering two upside earnings surprises and becoming more transparent with investors. Abercrombie & Fitch closed at $18.95 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $8.81 to $19.60 and with a consensus analyst target price of $14.62.

Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) was raised to Buy from Hold with an $81 price target (versus a $70.04 prior close) at Jefferies. Altria has a 52-week range of $60.01 to $77.79 and a consensus price target of $75.92.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) was indicated down 2.8% at $97.05 after earnings, versus a 52-week range of $75.39 to $102.39. Amex has seen multiple analyst target price changes after earnings: Barclays to $112 from $119, Bernstein to $120 from $116, KBW to $119 from $116 and RBC to $81 from $78.

Appian Corp. (NASDAQ: APPN) was down 5.9% at $36.15 on Thursday after Goldman Sachs cut the rating to Sell from Neutral, and on Friday its shares were indicated down another 3.5% at $34.90 on Thursday after William Blair downgraded Appian to Market Perform from Outperform. Appian has a 52-week range of $14.60 to $43.26. Other downgrades so far in 2018 were from Morgan Stanley, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and Barclays.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was maintained as Neutral at Mizuho, but the price target was raised to $175 from $160 in the call. Apple shares hit an all-time high of $180.10 on Thursday, and its shares closed up 0.1% at $179.26. Apple has a 52-week range of $119.50 to $180.10 and the prior consensus target price was $188.46.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, and the bank was also downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. Its shares closed down 4.4% at $55.35 on Thursday, and it has a 52-week range of $43.85 to $58.99 and a consensus price target of $59.61.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) has seen numerous analyst price target hikes in 2018, and Credit Suisse has joined in with a reiteration of its Outperform rating and raising its target to $192 from $155. Caterpillar has a 52-week range of $90.34 to $173.24, and its shares closed most recently at $168.83.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) was raised to Market Perform from Underperform at Raymond James. The stock closed at $337.53 has a 52-week range of $263.00 to $499.00.

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Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $215 price target (versus a $183.72 close) at Merrill Lynch.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was last seen down 3.3% at $153.50 after beating revenue expectations and despite breaking a more than five year streak of negative year-on-year revenue trends. Wedbush maintained its Neutral rating and $18 price target, calling the report a low-quality beat where its legacy IT service exposure is negative impacting its margins.

Kraft Heinz Co. (NASDAQ: KHC) was started as Buy with a $95 price target (versus a $79.27 close) at Jefferies. Kraft Heinz has a 52-week range of $75.21 to $97.77 and a consensus target price of $90.29. Its shares were indicated up 0.4% at $79.60 on Friday after the call.

La Quinta Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LQ) was raised to Neutral from Sell with a $19 price target (versus a $20.18 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) was reiterated as Outperform and was maintained as a Top Pick at Credit Suisse, following the company’s Investor Day presentations.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) was maintained as Underperform with a $93 price target (versus a $220.33 close) at Wedbush Securities. The firm maintains that the company’s content library has grown at a steep pace, with a clear disconnect between consumption and amortization. Wedbush also noted that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and others should drive up costs as they bid against Netflix and other media companies.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $74 price target (versus a $64.11 close) at Wedbush. The upgrade is based on confidence for an inflection in margins and a return to growth in North America in 2019, with guidance suggesting the building blocks should become more evident during the fourth quarter ending in May.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $124 price target (versus a $105.07 close) at Jefferies.

PLx Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: PLXP) was started as Buy with a $14 fair value estimate (versus a $6.10 close) at Janney. The firm noted that the company is creating a branded OTC health care franchise with a better aspirin for use as an antiplatelet agent.

Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $6.50 price target (versus a $5.47 close) at Deutsche Bank, and the underlying Liberty Media Sirius XM (NASDAQ: LSXMA) was also raised to Buy from Hold at the same time. Sirius XM was indicated up 2.2% at $5.59 on Friday morning, in a 52-week range of $4.57 to $5.89.

Sunoco L.P. (NYSE: SUN) was started as Neutral with a $33 fair value estimate (versus a $31.43 close) at Janney.

Switch Inc. (NYSE: SWCH) was started as Underperform with a $15 price target (versus a $17.02 close) at Cowen. Switch closed down 1.45% on Thursday and down 1.65% at $16.74 on Friday. The colocation and hosting company has a 52-week range of $15.77 to $24.90 and a consensus target price of $20.75.

Thursday’s top analyst calls were in CarMax, Caterpillar, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Comcast, First Solar, Juno Therapeutics, UnitedHealth, Walmart and about two dozen more companies.

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