Investing

Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Apple, Centene, Comcast, EA, Facebook, Intel, PG&E, P&G, SLM, Take-Two, Travelers and More

Jon C. Ogg

Stocks met some mixed and selective profit-taking in recent days, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq managed to close slightly higher while the Dow Jones industrials did not. All three major stock indexes were indicated to open marginally higher on Friday as well. It is very important to consider that earnings season is mostly looking rather strong so far. Stocks have also hit all-time highs in recent days.

Many investors still have not made portfolio changes during and after a very strong market in 2019. The markets now are treating a risk-on trade as being better than selling the news, despite being in overbought territory heading into earnings season. This is also an election year in which much is at stake, and strategists are by and large calling for single-digit percentage gains in 2020.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week with a goal of finding 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 analyst calls in a quick-hit summary for easy reading, and additional comments and trading data have been added on many 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 from Friday, January 24, 2020.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was reiterated as Outperform and the formal price target was lifted to $400 from $350 at Wedbush Securities, with the services and a 5G iPhone supercycle coming. While full details of that call are available, a firm named Rosenblatt Securities maintained its Sell rating on Apple and raised its target to $250 from $150 in a call that now removes the official “street-low” target price in the Refinitiv universe. The combination of these two calls should handily increase Apple’s consensus target price.

Applied Genetic Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: AGTC) had been down as much as 33% on Thursday, but the end of day close was down by a less disastrous 15% at $8.37, after showing mixed achromatopsia data. Janney has reiterated its Outperform rating and with an $18 target price, after noting that the mixed achromatopsia data should not really affect valuations and that an update in the second half of 2020 should provide clarity to the situation.

Arvinas Inc. (NASDAQ: ARVN) was reiterated as Outperform and its target was raised to $60 from $39 (versus a $50.86 prior close) at Wedbush. The firm noted that initial efficacy data is due in the first half of 2020 for its lead Protac ARV-110 in anti-tumor activity.

BioNTech S.E. (NASDAQ: BNTX) was downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at SVB Leerink. Its shares were down 5.6% at $36.70 on Thursday and down another 1.9% at $36.00 in Friday’s early indications.

Centene Corp. (NASDAQ: CNC) has seen its WellCare merger close, and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target price to $85 from $77. Shares closed up almost 2% at $68.02 ahead of the call, with a $75.18 consensus target price.

Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) was down 3.8% at $45.65 in Thursday’s post-earnings reaction, with a 52-week range of $34.67 to $47.74 and a consensus target price of $51.11. UBS downgraded it to Neutral from Buy with a $49 target price. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey reiterated its Buy rating and raised the target price to $53 from $49.

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) was reiterated as Outperform with a $118 target price (versus a $113.48 close) at Wedbush, with the firm noting that Star Wars is delivering and that it is well positioned for sustainable growth.

Epizyme Inc. (NASDAQ: EPZM) was reiterated as Outperform and its target price was raised to $30 from $24 (after a 4.7% gain to $26.72) at Wedbush, with the firm talking up its FDA approval of Tazverik for patients with epithelioid sarcoma and with higher-than-expected pricing. Its prior consensus target price was $23.25.

Exact Sciences Corp. (NASDAQ: EXAS) was named as the Bull of the Day at Zacks, which said that massive growth in Cologuard may be slowing but cancer detection is their game, with multiple targets in sight. Shares most recently closed at $92.18, with a consensus price target of $124.21.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) was reiterated as Outperform with a $250 target price (versus a $219.76 close) at Wedbush, with the firm calling for upside on the headline figures and growth from its monthly active users and from its daily active users.