Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Abbott Labs, CSX, IBM, Netflix, Occidental, Whiting, Amgen, Gilead, Merck, Pfizer and More

October 17, 2019 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks were indicated to open marginally higher on Thursday as the world appears to have better hopes for a Brexit framework out of Europe. Investors are having to grapple with a slower economy at the same time that the bull market is well over 10 years old. Now is a time to be considering what changes they should be making for their portfolios and assets heading into late 2019 and as 2020 approaches.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week to find new ideas for traders and long-term investors alike. Some of the daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy, while some 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 sell-side research service.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations for Thursday, October 17, 2019.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) was reiterated as Outperform and its target price was raised to $98 from $95 at Credit Suisse. Abbott Labs closed down 0.2% at $81.78, but its 52-week range is $65.44 to $88.76 and its consensus target price was $94.03.

CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) closed down 0.2% at $69.00 on Wednesday and shares were up just over 2% at $70.50 on Thursday’s post-earnings reaction. Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target to $82 from $79 in the call. Raymond James maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its target price to $80 from $81.

Discovery Inc. (NASDAQ: DISCA) was named as the Bull of the Day at Zacks, which said that this content provider is trading with a single-digit price-to-earnings ratio. Its shares most recently closed at $27.80, with a consensus price target of $34.60.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) was maintained with an Outperform rating at Raymond James, but the firm did lower its target price to $90 from $105. Shares closed down 1.1% at $68.18, with a consensus target price of $105.03.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) closed down 0.6% at $142.11 ahead of earnings on Wednesday, but light revenues had the stock down 6% at $133.50 on Thursday morning. Wedbush Securities maintained it as Neutral with a $155 target price, and Nomura/Instinet maintained its Buy rating while cutting its target to $170 from $175. BMO Capital Markets maintained its Market Perform rating and lowered its target to $152 from $157.

Liberty Global PLC (NASDAQ: LBTYA) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at HSBC. The stock closed up 1.8% at $26.18, and its consensus target price was $30.26.

Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ: MNST) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen. The stock was indicated lower by over 1.2% at $55.80 and its prior consensus target price was $66.44.

Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) was named as the Zacks Bear of the Day stock. The firm said that it has been a tough year for the agriculture industry. Mosaic last closed at $20.06 a share, with a consensus price target of $27.58.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) managed to surge around 10% initially after posting mixed earnings on Wednesday. Wedbush maintained its Underperform rating and $188 target price, Bernstein maintained its Outperform rating but cut its target to $422 from $450, Guggenheim maintained its Buy rating and cut its target to $400 from $420 and Wells Fargo maintained its Market Perform rating while raising its target to $308 from $288. Piper Jaffray maintained its Overweight rating and lowered its target to $400 from $440. Netflix shares were indicated to open up over 8% at $309.50 on Thursday morning.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) was maintained with a Strong Buy rating at Raymond James, but the firm did lower its target price to $70 from $80.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) saw its shares rise 2% to $89.70 in the post-earnings reaction in Wednesday’s trading. Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target to $118 from $117.

Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) was downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy rating at Raymond James, and the firm slashed its target price to $10 from $25. Whiting closed down 1% at $6.66, and its prior consensus target price was $17.30.

Argus reiterated its Buy ratings on PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: PNC) and on U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) following their third-quarter earnings reports.

Merrill Lynch has made multiple price target changes in the big biotech and pharmaceutical companies with reinstated coverage, as follows:

  • Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) target cut from $166 to $130.
  • Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) reinstated as Neutral and with a $215 price objective.
  • Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) reinstated as Underperform with a $200 price objective.
  • BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) reinstated as Buy with a $90 price objective.
  • Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) reinstated as Buy with a $133 price objective.
  • Exact Sciences Corp. (NASDAQ: EXAS) target up from $130 to $135.
  • Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) at Neutral and the price objective to $70 from $80.
  • Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) with a Neutral rating and $90 price objective.
  • Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) with a Neutral rating and $37 price objective.
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: VRTX) with a Buy rating and $220 price objective.

Wedbush is defending against the weakness in the cruise line industry, noting that the hits from 2019 and the near-term earnings risks it sees the underlying trends as positive and it has faith in the 2020 earnings story. The firm has reiterated its Outperform rating on Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) and on Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: NCLH), with a $140 target on Royal Caribbean (versus a $108.32 close) and a $65 target on Norwegian (versus a $49.33 close). Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) was maintained as Neutral with a $43 target price (versus a $42.39 close).

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Adobe, Alibaba, Amazon.com, AT& T, Comcast, Delphi Technologies, DocuSign, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan, T-Mobile, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and many more.

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