Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Allergan, Boeing, Facebook, GoPro, Microsoft, Pfizer, Shell, ServiceNow, Tiffany and More

January 31, 2019 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks surged higher on Wednesday after strong post-earnings reactions from Apple and Boeing, and then Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell helped the markets by indicating that the Fed would be patient with rate hikes. The Dow Jones industrial average is now well above 2,000 points higher than its lows from the start of this year, and it seems hard to imagine that this is the last day of the month already. Now investors have to keep giving strong consideration about how they want their assets positioned for 2019 and beyond.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week in an effort 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 31, 2019.

Allergan PLC (NYSE: AGN) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform and the target price was lowered to $161 from $197 (versus a $143.89 prior close) at Credit Suisse, with the firm noting that disappointing guidance raises concerns about the franchise value. The stock has a 52-week range of $125.84 to $197.00 and a consensus target price of $202.71.

Alliant Energy Corp. (NYSE: LNT) was raised to Underperform from Neutral with a $44 price objective (versus a $43.33 close) at Merrill Lynch. It has a consensus target price of $44.50 and a 52-week trading range of $36.84 to $46.58.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) surged after earnings, with a 6.25% gain to $387.72. Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its price target to $440 from $434, and it noted that the company is firing on all turbines. Boeing’s prior consensus target was $415.71.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) was up 4.3% at $150.42 ahead of earnings, but it was last seen trading up 11% at $167.75 after beating earnings and showing some of the public concerns are not as great of concerns on the business side of the equation. Wedbush Securities maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its price target to $200 from $220, noting that it beat earnings and continues to get likes from users and advertisers alike. Canaccord Genuity reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $200 from $180, and Deutsche Bank reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $200 from $195. Nomura/Instinet kept its Neutral rating on Facebook in place but raised its target price to $172 from $148.

Flagstar Bancorp Inc. (NYSE: FBC) was reiterated as Outperform with a $40 price target (versus a $30.47 close) at Wedbush, with the firm noting that the Michigan-based bank declared its first dividend since 2007 and a $50 million stock buyback was a significant step forward for the value creation process. The 52-week trading range is $25.30 to $38.00, and the consensus target price is $38.13.

General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus. Its shares closed down 2.9% at $170.91 on Wednesday, and it has a consensus target price of $201.63.

GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) is set to report earnings next week, and Wedbush reiterated its Neutral rating and $6 price target. That is better upside than the “Outperform” ratings from some firms, compared with a $4.87 close, and the firm noted that GoPro’s execution improved in 2018 and that it can maintain momentum after two years of generally poor execution. GoPro has a consensus target price of $6.67 and a 52-week trading range of $4.00 to $7.60.

H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral with a $22 price target (versus a $25.52 close) at Goldman Sachs. It has a 52-week range of $22.45 to $29.81 and a consensus target price of $26.57.

Helmerich & Payne Inc. (NYSE: HP) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $68 price objective (up from $55 previously, and versus $56.83 close, after a 5.5% gain) at Merrill Lynch.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) was started as Outperform and assigned a $167 price target at Credit Suisse, with the firm talking up Ocaliva as poised to deliver big gains from treating fatty liver.

Invesco Ltd. (NYSE: IVZ) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight with a $19 price target (versus an $18.59 close, after a 2.5% drop) at Barclays. Argus noted that Invesco’s fourth-quarter results were weak but the Oppenheimer acquisition is on track.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) was reiterated as Buy with a $210 target price (versus a $181.77 close) at Argus, with the firm positive on its stronger earnings. McDonald’s has a consensus target price of $195.77.

Mesoblast Ltd (NASDAQ: MESO) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $6.50 price target (versus a $4.55 close) at H.C. Wainwright.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) traded lower after earnings included a note that chip shortages helped keep revenues lower. Wedbush maintained the stock at Outperform with a $140 price target, and the firm noted that the Azure cloud services platform grew 76% year over year and continues to gain share from Amazon’s AWS. Nomura/Instinet maintained its Buy rating on Microsoft but lowered its target to $113 from $115.

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, with the firm raising earnings estimates for the rail giant.

Oshkosh Corp. (NYSE: OSK) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $86 price objective (versus a $72.78 close) at Merrill Lynch. Oshkosh had a consensus analyst target of $80.31.

Outfront Media Inc. (NYSE: OUT) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. After closing down 0.5% at $20.81 on Wednesday, the shares have a 52-week range of $16.81 to $22.52. The consensus target price was $23.88.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $55 target price at Argus. Also seen was an upgrade from Credit Suisse to Outperform from Neutral with a target price hike to $47 from $45. Credit Suisse talked about patent expirations slowing down and talked up its pipeline assets as underappreciated.

Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE: DGX) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus, but instead of being after news it was ahead of the earnings results. The stock was indicated down 0.9% at $86.13, and it has a consensus target price of $97.65.

Recro Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: REPH) was started with a Buy rating and assigned a $13 price target (versus a $7.90 close) at Janney, with the firm noting that its March 24 PDUFA date for IV Meloxicam remains on track.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) was reiterated as Sell at Citigroup despite it beating earnings, with the firm noting that its dividend trends have been flat for five years while it uses cash for shareholder returns when it is struggling around the life of its reserves relative to peers. The American depositary shares were up 1.2% at $59.56 on Wednesday and were indicated up 4% at $62.00 on Thursday.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NYSE: SMG) was raised to Neutral from Underweight with a $70 target price (versus a $71.44 close) at JPMorgan.

ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE: NOW) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $235 from $205 (versus a $194.00 close) at BMO Capital Markets. The shares were indicated up 8% at $209.50 after earnings, and that is above its all-time high of $206.30. Its prior consensus target price was $212.57.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) was raised to Overweight from Neutral with a $112 price target at Atlantic Equities.

T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (NASDAQ: TROW) was raised to Outperform from In-Line with a $99 price target (versus an $89.24 close) at Evercore ISI Group.

UMB Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: UMBF) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $70 price target (versus a $63.53 close) at Raymond James.

Wednesday’s top analyst calls included Allergan, Apple, Carnival, Ciena, Juniper Networks, Lockheed Martin, Plug Power, Take-Two Interactive Software, United Continental, Zynga and many more.

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