Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Apple, GE, Gilead, Humana, Oasis Petroleum, Sprint, Wynn, Yelp, Zynga and More

Investors have a hard week of volatility, and Thursday’s weakness reversed into a market indicating a positive open in the major indexes. We have to consider that the bull market is now one month shy of nine years old. We also had seen two years without a 5% sell-off before we hit the 10% levels this week. The one trend that has proven itself over and over was for investors to buy the dips and sell-offs. Investors also are still looking at how they should position their portfolios for this year and beyond.

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

The fundamentals are still looking strong, with higher wages and rising interest rates paring up against (or alongside) tax reform, accelerated earnings and stronger GDP growth. The recent sell-off did not change expectations for those fundamentals.

Additional color and commentary has been added on most of the daily analyst reports. The 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 Thursday, February 8, 2018.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was reiterated as Outperform with a $220 price objective (versus a $159.54 prior close) at Merrill Lynch. The firm was defending the recent weakness in Apple and even called it a defensive stock to own given derisked expectations, strong cash levels and an incremental capital return plan. It also noted that the market is already pricing in a declining growth in hardware scenario and a worse than run rate trajectory for services revenues. Merrill Lynch’s upside/downside scenarios on cash flows are $232 and $141.

Boston Beer Co. (NYSE: SAM) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie.

Carlyle Group L.P. (NASDAQ: CG) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $28 from $27 (versus a $24.10 close) at Credit Suisse. Oppenheimer maintained its Outperform rating but cut the target price to $35 from $39.

Clorox Co. (NYSE: CLX) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus, based on weak organic growth. The stock closed down 2.1% at $127.81 on Wednesday, and that is down from a 52-week high of $150.40.

Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH) was started with a Neutral rating at Buckingham Research.

Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) saw its 2019 earnings estimates raised at Argus, but the independent research firm maintained its Hold rating based on valuation.

Eaton Corp. PLC (NYSE: ETN) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $90 from $85 at Argus.

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) was reiterated as Sell at Deutsche Bank, but the firm lowered GE’s price target to $13 from $15, and the firm also introduced 2020 earnings per share of only $0.90 (down 16%) with the anticipation that Baker Hughes, rail and lighting will all be divested. It was just a week or so ago that Deutsche Bank warned GE is likely to be booted out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) was last seen up almost 3% at $82.76 on Wednesday after the prior day’s earnings. Citigroup reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price target to $105 from $103 on Thursday.

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $306 price target (versus a $264.90 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm expects Humana to deliver above-market enrollment growth in 2019 after returning to industry level growth in 2018. Oppenheimer reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its price target to $305 from $275.

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