Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcoa, Cisco, eBay, IBM, P&G, Square, Tesla, United Continental, Visa and More

July 19, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were looking for direction on Wednesday with a fairly light day on economic data. Investors have had less faith and have seen lower rewards from buying the dips than in prior years. Many of those same investors also have been concerned about how they want their investments positioned ahead of the midterm elections, into international trade concerns and for into 2019 and beyond.

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 our readers. Some analyst reports cover stocks to buy and some cover stocks to sell or to avoid.

Additional commentary has been added on most of the daily analyst reports, along with trading history. 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, July 18, 2018.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $72 from $71 at Stifel.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) was maintained Outperform but the price target was cut to $75 from $80 at BMO Capital Markets.

American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $73 from $70 at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

American Renal Associates Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ARA) was started as Neutral with a $16 price target (versus a $16.13 prior close) at Goldman Sachs.

BMC Stock Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BMC) was started as Outperform and assigned a $27 price target (versus a $21.65 close) at Wedbush Securities.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) was maintained as Overweight but the price target was cut to $48 from $50 (versus a $42.21 close) at Morgan Stanley. Cisco has a 52-week range of $30.36 to $46.37, and it had a consensus target price of $49.64.

Clorox Co. (NYSE: CLX) was started with a Sell rating and assigned a $110 price target at UBS.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $75 price target at UBS.

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) was last seen trading down 8% at $34.85 on Thursday after earnings. Stifel maintained the stock as Hold but cut the target price to $43 from $44. Canaccord Genuity maintained its Hold while cutting its target to $40 from $43. Morgan Stanley maintained its Overweight rating but cut its target to $55 from $58. Raymond James downgraded eBay to Outperform from Strong Buy.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was up 0.7% ahead of earnings on Wednesday and indicated up another 2.2% at $147.60 on Thursday despite 2018 being a reiterated guidance year. Wedbush maintained IBM as Neutral but with a $185 price target (versus a $143.49 close). BMO maintained its Market Perform rating on the stock while it cut the price target to $172 from $175. Stifel maintained its Buy rating but cut its price target to $178 from $182. Morgan Stanley maintained its Overweight rating but lowered its target to $185 from $198.

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Kimberly-Clark Co. (NYSE: KMB) was started with a Sell rating and assigned a $90 price target at UBS.

Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $224 from $205 (versus a $208.36 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) was raised to Market Perform from Underperform at Bernstein.

NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $178 from $168 at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy with an $83 price target (versus a $79.72 close) at UBS. The 52-week trading range is $70.73 to $94.67, and the consensus analyst target is $80.98.

Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ) closed down four cents to $68.29 on Wednesday but was indicated up 1% at $69.00 on Thursday. The stock was maintained as Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley, but the price target jumped to $75 from $42. Credit Suisse raised it to Outperform from Neutral and raised its price target all the way up to $81 from $44.

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) was downgraded to Underperform from an already cautious Hold rating at Needham. The firm noted valuation, slowing Model S sales and an unsustainable capital structure in its call as reasons for the downgrade. Shares closed up 0.36% at $323.85 on Wednesday, but they were indicated down 2.2% at $316.80 on Thursday morning. Tesla’s 52-week range is $244.59 to $389.61, and it had a consensus target price of $290.32.

United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie. Buckingham Research reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $106 from $96, and Morgan Stanley maintained its Equal Weight rating while raising its target to $77 from $76. The shares closed up 8.8% at $79.00 on Wednesday after it posted an earnings beat, and the new 52-week range is $56.51 to $79.49.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) was reiterated as Neutral with a $59 price target (versus a $50.64 close) at Wedbush.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $165 from $142 (versus a $140.90 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Wednesday’s top analyst calls were in Avon, Broadcom, CDW, CSX, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, Twitter, Under Armour, Windstream and many more.