Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcoa, Cars.com, CVS, Electronic Arts, Halliburton, PNC, Salesforce, Walgreens, UnitedHealth and More

January 17, 2019 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were indicated lower on Thursday, now that the Dow Jones industrials have rebounded over 1,500 points from the lows of January 3. The markets also are paying homage to the Vanguard’s Jack Bogel after the father of index funds passed away. Investors have noticed that the prevailing trend of buying the dips generally has been followed by less upside or additional losses, and the volatility late in 2018 shook the confidence of many investors over how to position their assets for 2019 and beyond.

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 of these analyst reports cover stocks to buy, while others 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 initiations seen on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

Aegon N.V. (NYSE: AEG) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup. Its American depositary shares were up 2.4% to $5.09 on Wednesday but were indicated down almost 2% at $5.00 on Thursday morning.

Alcoa Corp. (NYSE: AA) was maintained as Outperform buy the price target was lowered to $40 from $50 at Credit Suisse, with the firm noting that it looks cheap on its asset values but there is little free cash flow to drive higher capital returns. Alcoa’s prior consensus target price was $45.71.

AmerisourceBergen Corp. (NYSE: ABC) was started with a Buy rating and assigned an $89 target price (versus a $77.30 prior close) at UBS.

Autoliv Inc. (NYSE: ALV) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy and the target price was lowered to $80 from $97 (versus a $77.64 close) at Mizuho.

BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) was maintained as Buy with a $535 price target (versus a $413.04 close) at Argus, with the firm noting that it has lowered its 2019 EPS estimate due to sluggish early-year assets under management and inflows/outflows.

Cars.com Inc. (NYSE: CARS) was down 1% at $23.16 on Wednesday but was up 11% at $25.75 on Thursday after news that it was exploring strategic alternatives (including a possible sale) after Starboard Value took a stake in the online car retailer. Craig-Hallum raised its rating to Buy from Hold.

Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $54 from $50 at Credit Suisse, with the firm highlighting organic growth, operating leverage and capital returns all leading to raised earnings estimates.

Covia Holdings Corp. (NYSE: CVIA) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen.

CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $75 target price (versus a $63.92 close) at UBS.

Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair.

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the price target was slashed to $95 from $139 (versus an $89.92 close) at Jefferies. The shares had a consensus target price of $120.35 ahead of this, and the 52-week trading range is $73.91 to $151.26.

Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: FPRX) was raised to Outperform from Neutral with a $16 price target (versus a $10.04 close) at Wedbush Securities. The firm noted that it now sees more favorable risk/reward after a recent decline ahead of multiple catalysts in 2019 and as the company focuses its efforts on developing its broad pipeline. This stock is down from a 52-week high of $22.85.

Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform but the target price was lowered to $35 from $45 (versus a $30.36 close) at Cowen.

Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) was downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets.

Henry Schein Inc. (NASDAQ: HSIC) was started with a Sell rating and assigned a $73 target price (versus a $79.98 close) at UBS.

HubSpot Inc. (NYSE: HUBS) was started as Overweight and assigned a $191 target price (versus a $144.94 close) at Stephens.

Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (NYSE: LH) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $169 target price (versus a $132.03 close) at UBS.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE: NBR) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen.

New Relic Inc. (NASDAQ: NEWR) was reiterated as Outperform with a $116 price target (versus a $90.45 close) at Wedbush, with the firm noting that it is increasing its lead in the cloud after a Fortune 100 analysis.

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $95 price target (versus a $78.34 close) at Nomura/Instinet. The consensus target price is $100.25, and the 52-week trading range is $67.62 to $125.93.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) was maintained as Buy at Argus, but the independent research firm lowered its price target to $150 from $155 after noting commercial loan growth and consumer lending volumes were sluggish.

PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral with a $23 price target at BTIG.

Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) was started with an Overweight rating and assigned a $183 price target at Stephens. It had a consensus analyst target of $173.22, and the 52-week trading range is $102.37 to $161.19.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $32 target price (versus a $26.09 close) at Wells Fargo. Its consensus target price is $29.50.

Superior Energy Services Inc. (NYSE: SPN) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) was reiterated as Outperform with a $295 target price (versus a $261.46 close) at Argus. The firm was positive on earnings and noted that strong performance in the Commercial, Medicare Advantage and Optum segments more than offset weakness in the Medicaid business.

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) was started as Sell with a $70 target price (versus a $72.00 close) at UBS. It has a consensus target price of $76.55 and a 52-week trading range of $59.07 to $86.31.

Xilinx Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $100 target price (versus a $90.49 close) at Mizuho. The consensus target price is $87.77. The 52-week trading range is $62.27 to $95.18.

Wednesday’s top analyst calls included Apache, Caesars Entertainment, Dell Technologies, Devon Energy, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, NetApp, Nordstrom, MetLife, Snap and many more.

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