Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Atmos Energy, CRISPR Therapeutics, CSX, Editas, Mallinckrodt, Microsoft, Sun Life, Ultragenyx and More

Stocks were entering the last trading day of 2018 on a positive note. That said, the Dow Jones industrial average has seen 350 point drops six times in the past 10 trading days alone, while also having seen its best one-day point gain of all time. The S&P 500 was entering the final trading day of 2018 down by 8% for the year, versus year-to-date performances of −6.7% for the Dow and −4.6% for the Nasdaq Composite. Investors have had to stomach massive volatility waves this year, and they have seen less upside from buying immediately after the big market sell-offs than in prior years. Those same investors have had to decide how they want to be positioned for 2019 and beyond.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day to find new ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of these analyst reports cover stocks to buy, while others cover stocks to sell or to avoid. Analyst calls are generally light the last 10 days of each December, but many new 2019 updates are likely to be seen in the coming two to four weeks.

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 Monday, December 31, 2018.

Atmos Energy Corp. (NYSE: ATO) was reiterated as Buy with a $101 price target (versus a $91.66 prior close) at Argus. The independent research firm sees strong annual earnings comparisons and increased earnings estimates, and it expects the company’s regulated natural gas distribution business to benefit over time from favorable rate regulation and a growing customer base.

Brighthouse Financial Inc. (NYSE: BHF) was reiterated as Neutral with a $35 target price (versus a $31.11 close) at Credit Suisse.

Capital Senior Living Corp. (NYSE: CSU) was reiterated as Market Outperform with an $11 price target (versus a $6.76 prior close) at JMP Securities.

CRISPR Therapeutics A.G. (NASDAQ: CRSP) was reiterated with a Buy rating at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, and its $26.75 prior close compares with a consensus target price of $63.72.

CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) was maintained as Buy at Argus, but the firm did lower its target to $71 from $84. The firm noted that the recent weakness offers a buying opportunity. The shares previously closed at $62.08.

Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: DCPH) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price target was raised to $34 from $27 at B. Riley/FBR. The stock closed at $20.59 a share on Friday, and its prior consensus price target was $51.60.

Editas Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: EDIT) was reiterated as Buy at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, with a prior closing price of $20.72 and a consensus target price of $46.71.

iStar Inc. (NYSE: STAR) was raised to Market Outperform from Market Perform with an $11.50 price target at JMP Securities, with the firm noting that the upgrade is based on the pace of its strategic transition and an attractive entry point. The shares closed at $9.21 on Friday, and the consensus target price was $12.50 ahead of this call.

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