Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Applied Materials, Barrick Gold, Best Buy, Blackstone, Boeing, Cisco, J&J, KKR, McDonald's, Micron, Occidental, RealReal, Splunk and More

Stocks were mixed and looking for direction on Thursday despite news of President Trump’s impeachment. Stocks hit all-time highs again this week. Investors rightfully have moved away from those imminent recession calls in favor of growth and risk again, as they are seeing higher forecasts for 2020. That said, many pressing issues, risks and potential pitfalls remain, as the bull market has raged on for longer than a decade. Investors need to be considering 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 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 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, December 19, 2019.

Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: AIMT) was started with a Neutral rating and a $33 target price (versus a $31.31 prior close) at H.C. Wainwright.

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) was named as the Bull of the Day at Zacks, which said that while semiconductor cycles can be brutal, investors who kept their eyes on the AI prize knew where to invest. Shares most recently closed at $60.38 apiece, with a consensus price target of $67.39.

Arvinas Inc. (NASDAQ: ARVN) was started with a Buy rating and a $50 target price (versus a $40.84 close) at H.C. Wainwright.

Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: GOLD) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price objective was raised to $22 from $21 at Merrill Lynch. Barrick is among the top gold stocks that still may offer upside to average market gains in 2020, based on prior research. Shares closed up 3.1% at $17.93 on Wednesday and were indicated up marginally on Thursday, with a consensus target price of $20.45.

Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) was reiterated with a Buy rating and the target price was raised to $100 from $90 (versus an $87.01 close) at Loop Capital.

Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX) was reiterated as Overweight and the price target was raised to $64 from $60 (versus a $54.62 close) at Wells Fargo.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $53 price target at Barclays, and Jim Cramer also talked up its prospects for moving to a services model with 5G and Internet of Things upside on top of security. Cisco closed up 0.4% at $46.64 on Wednesday and was indicated up 1% at $47.12 on Thursday. Its consensus target price was $52.16 ahead of the call, and it has a 52-week trading range of $40.25 to $58.26.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE: CL) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch.

Epizyme Inc. (NASDAQ: EPZM) was up 10% at $20.09 on Wednesday after an FDA Advisory Committee reviewed the accelerated regulatory filing of tazemetostat as a treatment in epithelioid sarcoma and the ODAC panel voted in a unanimous 11-to-0 vote that the demonstrated benefit outweighs the risks of the drug in the proposed indication. Wedbush reiterated its Outperform rating and $24 target price after the news.

Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) was reiterated as Overweight and its target price was raised to $333 from $287 at Morgan Stanley in an industry review in which most companies were maintained as Neutral. Shares previously closed at $284.32, and the consensus target price was $290.91.