Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: American Eagle, Facebook, Nutrisystem, Pfizer, Roku, SeaWorld, Valero, Zynga and More

November 1, 2018 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were trying to open higher for a third day on Thursday, and the market has bounced handily from the very recent lows during the October sell-off. Many investors may still be bullish long-term, but they have seen lower upside after buying immediately after the big market pullbacks in 2018 than in prior years. The investing community needs to consider how they want to position their investments for the rest of the year and into 2019.

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 cover stocks to buy, but 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 are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday, November 1, 2018.

Aegion Corp. (NASDAQ: AEGN) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord Genuity, a day after its shares slid 15% to $19.36.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral with an $18 price objective at Merrill Lynch, which noted that there is a lack of margin improvement becoming a larger concern.

Autoliv Inc. (NYSE: ALV) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow.

BHP Billiton PLC (NYSE: BBL) was raised to Buy from Hold by Investec.

Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) was started with a Buy rating and assigned an $8.50 price target (versus a $6.49 prior close) at Guggenheim.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) saw many analysts maintain their positive ratings but lower their price targets after earnings. The independent research firm Argus has maintained its Buy rating but lowered its target to $206 from $210, noting that revenue and earnings growth are strong but decelerating and management also has warned of further slowdowns into 2019 as the social media giant pivots to support new applications.

Hamilton Lane Inc. (NASDAQ: HLNE) was downgraded to Neutral from Overweight with a $38 price target (versus a $38.38 close) at JPMorgan.

Maxar Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: MAXR) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at CIBC.

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. (NYSE: EDU) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the target price was lowered to $55 from $105 at Deutsche Bank.

Nutrisystem Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRI) was raised to Neutral from Underperform and the target price was raised to $36 from $28 (versus a $35.56 close, after a 6.6% gain) at D.A. Davidson.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at BMO Capital Markets. Pfizer closed up 0.4% at $43.06 ahead of the call, but it was indicated down 0.3% at $42.92 after the call. The 52-week trading range is $33.20 to $45.81, and the consensus target price was $43.28.

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Roku Inc. (NASDAQ: ROKU) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Wedbush Securities, but the firm lowered its target price to $65 from $73 after taking a more conservative approach to valuation. Shares closed at $55.60 ahead of this call. The consensus target price was $69.08.

Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) was raised to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) was raised to Overweight from Sector Weight with a $35 price target (versus a $26.12 close) at KeyBanc Capital Markets. It has a 52-week trading range of $10.42 to $32.47, and it had a consensus target price of $31.50 ahead of this call.

Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $120 price target (versus a $91.09 close) at Credit Suisse. The consensus target price was last seen at $125.88.

Walker & Dunlop Inc. (NYSE: WD) was raised to Outperform from Neutral at Wedbush, but the target price was lowered to $55 from $58 based on a recent sell-off in the shares in the commercial real estate services group.

WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX) was Raised to Outperform from Market Perform and assigned a $200 price target at Wells Fargo. The stock was up 4.9% at $175.96 at the pre-call close, and its consensus target price is $211.92.

Wisconsin Energy Group Inc. (NYSE: WEC) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) was reiterated as Outperform at Wedbush, but the firm maintained its $6 price target to reflect a higher EV/EBITDA multiple for 2019 and to reflect increased visibility into future growth. Also, Credit Suisse maintained its Underperform rating. The shares closed down 0.8% at %3.64 on Wednesday, and Thursday’s post-earnings reaction was last seen down 2.2% at $3.56.

Credit Suisse has addressed the recent sell-off with some refuting of fears. It noted that third-quarter results have been more than solid, with earnings on target for 26% growth on the back of 6% surprises. While many investors are pointing to disappointing guidance as a source of market weakness, the firm’s own data refutes this claim as fourth-quarter and fiscal 2019 trends are outpacing historical comparisons.

Despite serious weakness in oil and gas prices and in the stocks in the sector, Stifel likes five top energy names as earnings roll in.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Aetna, Baker Hughes, Chesapeake Energy, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Cummins, Eli Lilly, General Electric, Qualcomm, Weatherford and many more.

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