Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Alcoa, Bed Bath & Beyond, Boeing, CenturyLink, DuPont, FedEx, Groupon, J&J, Micron, Microsoft, WPX Energy and More

December 17, 2019 by Jon C. Ogg

Stocks have hit all-time highs on the heels of phase announced but unsigned trade pact between the United States and China, but Tuesday morning was looking like a mild session of profit-taking. Investors have been smart to move away from all those recent imminent recession calls, and they are still seeing upside projections for the stock market in 2020. Still, there are many pressing issues and risks to consider now that the bull market has raged longer than a decade. This is the time for investors to consider what changes they should be making for their portfolios and assets heading into 2020.

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, while some 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 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 Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

Alcoa Corp. (NYSE: AA) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform and the target price was lowered to $23 from $25 (versus a $20.98 prior close) at BMO Capital Markets. Alcoa had a $25.08 consensus target price, and its 52-week trading range is $16.46 to $31.45.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK) was reiterated as Buy and its target price was raised to $58 from $55 (versus a $50.16 close) at UBS.

BCE Inc. (NYSE: BCE) was downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) was reiterated as Outperform and the target price was raised to $18 from $16 at Wedbush Securities. Shares previously closed down 1% at $15.18, but news of six announced senior executives leaving ahead of the new CEO plan was in the news. Its consensus target price was $13.54.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) closed down over 4% at $327.00 on Monday on concerns of 737 Max production delays and was down another 1.3% at $322.75 after confirming it would halt production starting in January. Credit Suisse maintained its Neutral rating.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Loop Capital in a valuation downgrade. It closed up 0.7% at $253.07, in a 52-week high of $253.92 (from yesterday as well), and it has a consensus target price of $242.68.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight with a $14.75 price target (versus a $13.58 close) at Morgan Stanley.

Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral and its target price was cut to $28 from $35 (versus a $33.54 close) at Goldman Sachs. Its 52-week range is $27.26 to $52.04, and the consensus target price was lowered to $42.32.

DuPont de Nemours Inc. (NYSE: DD) was reiterated as Buy and the target price was raised to $91 from $86 (versus a $64.89 close) at UBS.

Ecopetrol S.A. (NYSE: EC) was started with a Sell rating at Goldman Sachs.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) closed down about 1% and was indicated down another 1% at $162.40 on more negative Amazon news. Credit Suisse maintained its Outperform rating and $168 target.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) was indicated lower by 3% at $2.55, with a downgrade to Sell from Neutral by Goldman Sachs. The stock previously closed at $2.63 and had a consensus target price of $3.65.

Ichor Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: ICHR) was named as the Bull of the Day at Zacks, which said that chip stocks have been running and this stock deserves a closer look. Shares most recently closed at $33.06, with a consensus price target of $34.25.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, and the firm raised its target to $141 from $87 (versus a $118.21 close) after noting that its OCA is uniquely positioned in the NASH space with an April 22, 2020, PDUFA at the FDA.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $170 target price (versus a $141.79 close) at Morgan Stanley. It had a consensus target price of $150.78 ahead of this call.

Laredo Petroleum Inc. (NYSE: LPI) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral and its target price was cut to $2.00 from $2.50 (versus a $2.82 close) at Goldman Sachs.

Lazard Ltd (NYSE: LAZ) was named as the Zacks Bear of the Day stock. The firm said that this investment manager is looking to grow earnings on a year-over-year basis but recent reductions in estimates have not been helpful. Shares last closed at $39.08 and have a consensus price target of $39.75.

Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) was downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets. This compares with a $58.11 prior close, and it has a $65.40 consensus target price. It was indicated down 0.6% at $57.76 on Tuesday.

Liberty Braves Group (NASDAQ: BATRA) was started as Buy with a $35 target price (versus a $29.54 close) at Benchmark.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND) was initiated as Buy and a $19 target price (versus a $15.89 close) at Janney, with the firm noting that it is an attractive growth story with positive industry dynamics.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) was raised to Outperform from Neutral and its target price was raised to $65 from $45 (versus a $52.94 close) at Wedbush. The firm noted it is not a call on this week’s earnings but is more a call on an improving memory dynamic with stronger NAND/SSD pricing trends. Needham reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $70 from $60. Micron shares rose 3.4% the prior day on a similar analyst upgrade, but that one had an even higher target price.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $185 from $170 at Wedbush. The firm has increased confidence on it winning the next phase of the cloud battle with AWS and others, and the firm kept it as one of its top picks on the Wedbush Best Ideas List.

Pentair PLC (NYSE: PNR) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel in a valuation downgrade.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (NYSE: RBS) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup. Its American depositary shares closed up 2.25 at $6.96 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $4.33 to $7.31.

WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPX) was reiterated as Outperform at Credit Suisse, and the firm raised its target price to $15 from $13 (versus an $11.90 close) and said it was uncovering a hidden gem. WPX was said to deliver on a deal that’s accretive on its cash flow while adding significant inventory running room in its core Delaware basin operations. Imperial Capital reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target to $17 from $13.

Xylem Inc. (NYSE: XYL) was started as Neutral at Citigroup.

YPF S.A. (NYSE: YPF) was started with a Sell rating at Goldman Sachs.

Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) was downgraded to Hold from Buy at Argus, with the independent research shop stating that Yum’s prospects look to be slowing growth.

We have identified the preliminary 2020 Dogs of the Dow, and here are seven undervalued Dow stocks for 2020. Elsewhere, here are five utilities expected to Outperform from Credit Suisse and three top health care picks for upside in 2020 from Goldman Sachs.

Monday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Adobe, Amgen, Bank of America, Broadcom, CME, Goldman Sachs, Micron Technology, PepsiCo, UnitedHealth, Urban Outfitters, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and many more.