Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AK Steel, BHP Billiton, Dominion, JB Hunt, KLA-Tencor, Micron, Nucor, Oracle, Roku, US Steel and More

March 20, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks took a hit lower on Monday, but the major indices were looking slightly positive on Tuesday. The bull market is now over nine years old, and investors are still considering how they want to be positioned for the rest of 2018 and beyond. One trend that has kept working is for investors to buy all the big pullbacks.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week in an effort to find new ideas for investors and traders alike. Some daily analyst 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 Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) was started with a Neutral rating and assigned a $6 price target (versus a $4.95 prior close) at Goldman Sachs. Shares closed down 3.5% at $4.95 on Monday and were last seen trading up 1.2% at $5.01, as the price target is still signaling 20% in implied upside.

Arena Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $60 price target (versus a $30.89 close) at Needham.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) was maintained as Neutral with a $23 target price (versus a $22.26 close) at Wedbush Securities. The call is ahead of earnings, noting that the bar is set low, but it’s still too early to call a turn in its medium-term outlook.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE: BHP) was raised to Neutral from Underperform at BNP Paribas. The American depositary shares closed at $44.21 on Monday, and they have a 52-week trading range of $33.37 to $50.79.

Blucora Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOR) was started with an Outperform rating at William Blair. The stock was down 2% at $24.10 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $16.23 to $26.15 and with a consensus analyst target price of $30.50.

Citi Trends Inc. (NASDAQ: CTRN) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $32 price target (versus a $27.63 close) at MKM Partners.

Commercial Metals Co. (NYSE: CMC) was started as Sell with a $25 price target (versus a $23.71 close) at Goldman Sachs. Credit Suisse maintained its Outperform rating.

Dominion Energy Inc. (NYSE: D) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $72 price target (versus a $69.15 close) at Merrill Lynch.

Essex Property Trust Inc. (NYSE: ESS) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $253 price target (versus a $241.99 close) at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

II-VI Inc. (NASDAQ: IIVI) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $55 price target (versus a $45.20 close) at B. Riley.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $150 target price (versus a $120.19 close) at Argus. The independent research firm sees a strong outlook, believes it has adapted to changes in customer demand and is calling for 15% long-term earnings growth.

KLA-Tencor Corp. (NASDAQ: KLAC) was reiterated as Buy with a $135 price target (versus a $115.98 close) at Argus, with the firm being talked up after announcing the acquisition of Orbotech increasing its exposure to faster-growing markets like 5G AR, VR, OLED, smart mobile and automotive.

MDC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: MDC) was started as Neutral at Wedbush, which noted it would prefer a faster expansion into the entry level of homes.

Meritage Homes Corp. (NYSE: MTH) was started as Outperform with a $55 price target (versus a $44.45 close) at Wedbush, with the firm noting that its entry-level shift should drive earnings growth.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $70 from $60 (versus a $60.14 close) ahead of earnings. The firm says that it remains bullish ahead of earnings but is perhaps a bit more subtle.

Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $78 price target (versus a $65.33 close) at Goldman Sachs.

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Nutrisystem Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRI) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus. Shares closed down 3% at $30.40 on Monday and were indicated down 1.5% at $29.95 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $28.50 to $67.95.

Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) was down 0.6% at $51.95 ahead of earnings guidance, but it was last seen trading down almost 9% at $47.50 after the report. Oracle was maintained as Outperform with a $55 price target at Wedbush, and while the firm said there is no visible demand uptick there are some reasons for optimism. KeyBanc downgraded Oracle to Sector Weight, Stifel downgraded it to Hold from Buy and Merrill Lynch also threw in the towel by downgrading it to Neutral from Buy.

ONEOK Inc. (NYSE: OKE) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $67 price target (versus a $56.47 close) at Jefferies. The 52-week range is $47.14 to $61.36.

PPG Industries Inc. (NYSE: PPG) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $130 price target (versus a $113.22 close) at Deutsche Bank.

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. (NYSE: RS) was started with a Neutral rating and assigned a $103 price target (versus an $88.89 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Roku Inc. (ROKU) was raised to Perform from Underperform at Oppenheimer.

Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE: SIG) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $43 price target (versus a $39.46 close) at Merrill Lynch.

Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHN) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $42 price target (versus a $34.00 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGEN) was started as Overweight with a $74 price target (versus a $55.73 close) at Barclays.

Steel Dynamics Inc. (NASDAQ: STLD) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $59 price target (versus a $45.69 close) at Goldman Sachs.

uniQure N.V. (NASDAQ: QURE) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $30 from $25 (versus a $20.78 close) at Janney, with the firm noting that investors should buy on weakness.

United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) was started with a Neutral rating and assigned a $45 price target (versus a $39.06 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Despite some weakness, Jefferies is staying very bullish on five top oilfield services stocks.

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Goldman Sachs increased its views on emerging markets on Monday, noting India as the strongest opportunity of the larger emerging markets.

Several large-cap tech stocks are expected benefit greatly from the explosive growth of the cloud.

Monday’s top analyst calls were in AstraZeneca, Dr Pepper Snapple, Fortinet, GrubHub, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Unilever and many others.

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