Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Altria, Charles Schwab, Charter Communications, Comerica, Morgan Stanley, Slack, Snap, Wells Fargo, Zoom Video and More

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The futures traded higher Friday morning, as this week investors watched all the major indexes hit record highs after some very dovish Humphrey-Hawkins testimony from Federal Reserve Chair “Jay” Powell. It looks like almost a sure thing now that the Fed will lower interest rates by 25 basis points at the end of the month, with some predicting a 50 basis point cut. This is a time when investors must be considering how they want their portfolios and assets positioned for the second half of 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 traders and long-term investors alike. Some of the daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or to avoid.

We have provided these calls in a quick-hit summary for easy reading, and additional comments and trading data have been added on some of the calls. The consensus analyst price targets and other valuation metrics are from the Refinitiv (Thomson Reuters) sell-side research service.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations on Friday, July 12, 2019.

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (NYSE: APD) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Seaport Securities. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $144.88 to $231.45, and the Wall Street consensus price objective is set at $221.58. The stock was last seen trading at $227.76.

Altria Inc. (NYSE: MO) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $59 price target at Goldman Sachs. That compares with the consensus target of $58.73. The shares closed Thursday at $49.26, and they traded higher in Friday’s premarket.

Boise Cascade Inc. (NYSE: BCC) was downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Merrill Lynch. The 52-week trading range is $22 to $47.15, and the consensus price target for the paper products giants is $35. The stock was last seen Thursday at $27.06.

Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) saw its target price raised to $500 from $425 at Pivotal Research Group. That compares to the much lower consensus target of $410.62. The firm forecasts solid results for the balance of the year as the company begins to fully realize the benefit of the substantial investments made in its plant/packages and promotions and the strong outlook for data growth. Shares were last seen Thursday at $410.25.

Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch. The 52-week trading range for the original discount broker is $37.83 to $54.26, and the current consensus price target is set at $45.50. Thursday’s closing price was $40.46.

Comerica Inc. (NYSE: CMA) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup, which also lowered the price target on the bank to $66. That compares with a consensus target of $82.77. The stock closed Thursday at $72.55.

Focus Financial Partners Inc. (NASDAQ: FOCS) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform with a $35 price target at Keefe Bruyette. That compares with the consensus target of $37.94. The shares ended Thursday at $28.01.

LivePerson Inc. (NASDAQ: LPSN) was started with a Buy rating and a $36 price target at KeyBanc Capital Markets. The consensus price target is $35.35. The stock closed Thursday at $29.49.

Mesa Air Group Inc. (NASDAQ: MESA) was started with a Buy rating and a $16 price target at B. Riley FBR. The consensus target is $14.67. The analysts see multiple opportunities for the large discount to the group to be reduced, as Mesa emerged from bankruptcy with a lower cost structure and the ability to pay down debt, which firm expects to substantially reduce interest expense over time. The stock closed Thursday at $9.41.