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Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: American Water Works, Berkshire Hathaway, Booking, CRISPR, Dollar Tree, US Steel, Whiting Petroleum and More

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Stocks were down marginally on Wednesday, and Thursday’s indications were for the markets to open slightly higher. The European Central Bank removed some of its easing bias with stronger growth and inflation. The bull market is over nine years old this week, and the one trend that has prevailed for more than five years has been for investors to buy all the big pullbacks. Investors also still have to decide how they want to be positioned for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week to find new ideas for investors and traders alike. Some 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 the daily analyst reports. The consensus analyst price targets 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, March 8, 2018.

American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR) was started as Sell and assigned a downward price target of $42 (versus a $51.51 prior close) at UBS.

American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK) was started as Buy with an $89 price target (versus an $80.18 close) at UBS, but this was one of the few positive calls in an otherwise cautious valuation view of the water sector in its report.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) was maintained as Hold at Argus, noting that the insurance underwriting issues continue to drag on earnings.

Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $2,520 price target (versus a $2,122.93) at Argus.

Bright Scholar Education Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: BEDU) was started with an Overweight rating and assigned a $23 price target (versus a $17.00 close) at JPMorgan.

CalAmp Corp. (NASDAQ: CAMP) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Craig-Hallum.

Control4 Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRL) was raised to Outperform from In-Line with a $30 price target (versus a $24.65 close) at Imperial Capital.

CRISPR Therapeutics A.G. (NASDAQ: CRSP) was started as Market Outperform with a $69 price target (versus a $51.48 close) at JMP Securities.

Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) was down about 14.5% at $89.25 a share on Wednesday after earnings disappointed. Barclays is taking the view that the sell-off looks attractive for new buyers, and the firm raised its rating to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $100 price target. The stock was at $104.36 just ahead of earnings and before the drop, and it has a 52-week trading range of $65.63 to $116.65.

Eaton Corp. PLC (NYSE: ETN) was raised to Neutral from Underperform with an $85 price objective (versus an $81.03 close) at Merrill Lynch.

Genocea Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GNCA) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $5 price target (versus a $1.11 close) at H.C. Wainwright.

HCP Inc. (NYSE: HCP) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $25 price objective (versus a $22.63 close) at Merrill Lynch.

Intellia Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: NTLA) was started as Market Outperform with a $76 price target (versus a $29.43 close) at JMP Securities.

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ManpowerGroup Inc. (NYSE: MAN) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $138 (versus a $120.23 close) at Argus.

Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHP) was raised to Buy from Neutral and assigned a $108 price target (versus a $95.57 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM) was raised to Hold from Reduce with a $50 price target (versus a $49.80 close) at HSBC.

Spark Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $75 from $61 at Credit Suisse, based on its views on SPK-8011.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $120 price target at Argus. The stock closed up 1.7% at $106.65, and it has a 52-week range of $54.17 to $106.39.

United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $55 from $48 (versus a $45.69 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm noted that the Granite City blast furnace restart will drive strong upside.

Wendy’s Co. (NYSE: WEN) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $20 price target (versus a $16.63 close) at Longbow Research.

Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at Merrill Lynch. Shares closed down 2.9% at $28.45 on Wednesday and were indicated up 0.7% at $28.66 on Thursday.

ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ: ZAGG) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $16 target price (versus a $15.50 close) at B. Riley.

Merrill Lynch has added a hot tech stock to its prized US 1 List of focus stocks.

Six technology stocks caught multiple analyst upgrades and target hikes on Wednesday after strong news.

Wednesday’s top analyst calls included Cree, Domino’s, Encana, International Paper, Kraft Heinz, Marvell, Netflix and many more.

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