Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Benefitfocus, Chubb, Dominion, Home Depot, Karyopharm, Mylan, Philip Morris, Weight Watchers and More

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Stocks were indicated to open lower on Wednesday, but investors need to consider that the Dow Jones industrial average’s recent gains had taken it about 3,500 points higher from its lows of early January. Investors have much to consider about trade policies, politics and the current business climate, and they should be considering 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. 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 Refinitiv (Thomson Reuters) sell-side research service.

These were the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.

AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $1,050 from $940 (versus a $935.00 prior close, after a 5.1% gain) at Wells Fargo.

Benefitfocus Inc. (NASDAQ: BNFT) was last seen down 9% at $52.50 after first-quarter revenue guidance was light but mainly on a secondary offering that will remove two top shareholders entirely. Jefferies downgraded it to Hold from Buy but raised the price target to $55 from $48, and RBC Capital Markets downgraded its rating to Market Perform from Outperform.

Chubb Ltd. (NYSE: CB) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral and the price target was lowered to $131 from $141 (versus a $135.17 close) at Credit Suisse, with the firm seeing its catastrophe load embedded within consensus EPS forecasts as materially too low and optimistic and concerns that Chubb will be able to organically grow policy counts in its peer-leading U.S. high-net-worth personal home/auto businesses.

Cincinnati Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: CINF) was raised to Neutral from Underperform and the price target was raised to $90 from $75 (versus an $85.61 close) at Credit Suisse, with the firm talking up its pricing-power tailwinds adding to earnings ahead.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) was maintained as Buy with a $210 price target (versus a $164.04 close) at Argus. It has a 52-week range of $141.63 to $185.00 and a consensus target price of $171.40.

Dominion Energy Inc. (NYSE: D) was reiterated as Buy at Argus, with the independent research firm noting that the recent weakness offers a buying opportunity. Shares closed down 1.6% at $73.89 on Tuesday, with a consensus target price of $74.63 and in a 52-week trading range of $61.53 to $77.19.

Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) was down 0.9% at $188.30 after earnings. Wedbush Securities maintained its Neutral rating and $190 target and noted that its results and 2019 guidance point to a moderating home improvement market with fourth-quarter comps missing consensus expectations in part from unseasonably wet weather but also likely due to slowing demand. Credit Suisse maintained its Neutral rating and lowered its price target to $192 from $194.

Immersion Corp. (NASDAQ: IMMR) was down 2.5% at $9.61 on Tuesday ahead of earnings, but the shares were indicated down 10% at $8.65 on Wednesday’s trading reaction to earnings. B. Riley FBR downgraded the shares to Neutral from Buy.

Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: KPTI) was last seen trading down almost 15% at $4.15 after announcing the outcome of the FDA Advisory Committee over Selinexor as a treatment for patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma. Merrill Lynch downgraded it to Underperform from Neutral, while Wedbush maintained its Outperform rating and $6 price target.

Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ: MYL) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Bernstein. After closing down 1.1% at $30.62 on Tuesday, the shares were indicated down 8.75% at $27.95 on Wednesday after earnings disappointed. The 52-week trading range is $26.03 to $44.18.

New Relic Inc. (NASDAQ: NEWR) was reiterated as Outperform at Wedbush, but the firm added it to the Best Ideas List, based on growing enterprise penetration and a promising setup heading into 2020 as it has now penetrated over 50% of the Fortune 100 and is increasing its lead in the cloud.

Pegasystems Inc. (NASDAQ: PEGA) was reiterated as Outperform with an $84 price target (versus a $64.94 close) at Wedbush, but the firm added it to the Wedbush Best Ideas List as it transitions to the cloud and after its fourth-quarter earnings report represented its fifth consecutive quarter of strong results.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) was raised to Buy from Neutral at UBS. It was indicated up 1.1% at $87.50 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $64.67 to $109.90 and with a consensus target price of $87.59.

Weight Watchers International Inc. (NASDAQ: WTW) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Craig-Hallum after a 35% post-earnings drop down to $19.19. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey it downgraded to Hold from Buy, and Oppenheimer downgraded it to Perform from Outperform. KeyBanc cut its rating to Sector Weight from Overweight, and Merrill Lynch offered a two-notch downgrade to Underperform from Buy. The prior $29.57 close compared with a prior 52-week range of $27.10 to $105.73.

W.R. Berkley Corp. (NYSE: WRB) was raised to Outperform from Neutral and the target price was raised to $88.00 from $77.50 at Credit Suisse. The firm sees profit margin improvement over 2019 and 2020 in both the insurance and reinsurance segments, with hardening reinsurance pricing and an improvement in its expense ratio.

Goldman Sachs has raised its price targets on four stocks that have been on the move.

Investors need to pay attention to the new FTC Tech Task Force created to focus on large technology companies exhibiting antitrust behavior. This gives a more tuned power for breakups and can result in mergers being broken up even if they have already closed.

Credit Suisse’s global equity strategy team sees a rising risk of a bond market sell-off, driving yields higher, with a house view (12-month target) of 3.1% and 0.8% for U.S. and German 10-year bonds, respectively. The firm now remains cautious on U.S. utilities and has increased its overweight stance in Japanese equities.

RBC Capital Markets has four utilities that it thinks can soar if interest rates stay low and volatility comes back in the equities indexes.

Tuesday’s top analyst calls included Caterpillar, CenturyLink, Danaher, Dillard’s, Intel, Intelsat, Mattel, ONEOK, PG&E, Windstream and many more.

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