Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Biogen, Broadcom, Caterpillar, Cree, GrubHub, Intel, 3M, MetLife, Verizon and More

April 25, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Source: courtesy of Jon Ogg
Stocks sold off handily on Tuesday as the 3% mark on the 10-year Treasury yield was challenged, but stocks were trying to stage a small rally on Wednesday morning. Some investors have reconsidered what the nine-year bull market may bring in 2018 and beyond. It has become clear that the multiyear trend of buying pullbacks is now more vulnerable to sellers, volatility and each major news headline. Many investors are finding it harder to decide how they want their assets positioned for the longer term.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week. Our goal is to find new ideas for investors and traders alike. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy and some 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 Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

AFLAC Inc. (NYSE: AFL) was started as Neutral with a $49 price target at Credit Suisse.

Ameriprise Financial Inc. (NYSE: AMP) was started as Neutral with a $154 price target at Credit Suisse.

AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) was maintained as Buy at Argus, but the independent research firm reduced its price target to $850 from $875.

Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) was maintained as Buy but was removed from the prized Conviction Buy list at Goldman Sachs. The price target is $388 and Biogen closed at $262.15. Biogen has a 52-week range of $244.28 to $370.57 and a consensus analyst target of $371.82.

Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: HAWK) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus, with the firm ending coverage after the announcement of the Silver Lake-led go-private deal.

Brighthouse Financial Inc. (NYSE: BHF) was started as Underperform with a $44 price target at Credit Suisse.

Broadcom Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) was started with an Overweight rating and assigned a $293 price target (versus a $228.38 prior close) at Piper Jaffray. The stock closed down almost 2.2% on Tuesday, and it has a 52-week range of $219.77 to $285.68 and a consensus target price of $321.00.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) sold off 6.2% to $144.44 on Tuesday after earnings may have signaled the best returns had been seen. Credit Suisse disagrees and maintained its Outperform rating with a note that it does not believe its markets are near the peak and it believes that Caterpillar will generate too much cash for its share repurchases not to be meaningful. Caterpillar has a 52-week trading range of $97.74 to $173.24.

CenterPoint Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNP) was resumed with an Underperform rating and a $25 price objective at Merrill Lynch. The firm noted that CenterPoint’s $8 billion total transactional value deal to buy Vectren will be accretive by 2021 and it is a more neutral stance than its own guidance.

China Life Insurance Co. (NYSE: LFC) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie. The American depositary shares were up 0.2% at $13.85 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $13.49 to $17.85.

Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) was down 2.5% at $39.36 ahead of earnings. Oppenheimer raised the stock to Outperform from Perform with a $53 price target. The consensus target price is $36.22.

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GrubHub Inc. (NYSE: GRUB) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $100 price target (versus a $98.03 close) at Roth Capital. It has a 52-week range of $34.67 to $112.41 and a consensus price target of $101.55. Shares were down 4% on Tuesday and down 2.2% at $95.90 on Wednesday.

Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) was maintained as Buy at Argus, but the price target was lowered to $106 (versus an $86.26 close). Hasbro has a 52-week range of $79.00 to $116.20.

Healthcare Realty Trust (NYSE: HR) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, and the price target was raised to $60 from $55. The firm sees Intel posting upside to first-quarter and second-quarter results as the basis for the higher target. Intel shares closed up 0.7% at $51.45 on Tuesday and were indicated up 0.7% more at $51.85 on Wednesday morning. The 52-week range is $33.24 to $54.35, and the consensus target price is $54.22.

Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) was started as Neutral with a $74 price target at Credit Suisse.

3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, with the firm saying the post-earnings pullback offers a favorable entry point to new buyers. 3M closed down 6.8% at $201.13 on Tuesday, and the conglomerate has a 52-week trading range of $193.54 to $259.77. The consensus price target is $237.92.

MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) was started as Outperform with a $67 price target at Credit Suisse. Its shares closed up 0.4% at $47.61 on Tuesday despite the market sell-off, and they have a 52-week range of $43.38 to $55.91. The consensus target price had been $54.20.

PPG Industries Inc. (NYSE: PPG) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $118 price target (versus a $105.77 close) at JPMorgan.

Principal Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: PFG) was started as Neutral with a $62 price target at Credit Suisse.

Prudential Financial Inc. (NYSE: PRU) was started as Neutral with a $102 price target at Credit Suisse.

Roper Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ROP) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, with the firm saying that the recent weakness offers a buying opportunity.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: AMTD) was reiterated as Underperform and the price target was cut to $58 from $59 (versus a $59.06 close) at Credit Suisse. The firm sees TD Ameritrade underperforming the retail broker peer group and it sees more upside in Schwab and E*Trade.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $58 price target (versus a $49.67 close) at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. UBS raised it to Buy from Neutral with a $55 price target. The shares closed up 2% at $49.67 on Tuesday despite overall market selling. Verizon has a 52-week trading range of $42.80 to $54.77.

Voya Financial Inc. (NYSE: VOYA) was started as Outperform with a $60 price target at Credit Suisse.

Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) was raised to Market Perform from Underperform at BMO Capital Markets. Disney has a 52-week range of $96.20 to $116.10 and a consensus price target of $119.90.

Wayfair Inc. (NYSE: W) was started as Equal Weight with a $75 price target (versus a $68.77 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Tuesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades were in shares of Alcoa, Alphabet, BP, Epizyme, FirstEnergy, First Solar, KeyCorp, Nvidia, Vale and many more.

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