Investing

Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Abbott Labs, Alexion, Avis Budget, DexCom, J&J, Marvell, Moderna, Snap, Splunk, Zoom Video and More

The markets have seen big gaps up and down all week, after last week’s major sell-off wrecked the bull market’s status. Thursday’s trading levels were calling a volatile open with a 600-point drop in the Dow Jones industrials and a 75-point drop in S&P 500 futures. The market was not as pleased initially with the emergency rate cut as the Federal Reserve might have hoped, but a new emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus and international pledges and stimulus have been seen as further support.

Despite the volatility due to coronavirus outbreak fears and the added pressure coming from the political election cycle this year, many investors have not made that many major changes to their holdings after the incredible gains from 2019.

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. It is worth noting that many analysts have not hit the panic button, as they maintain positive ratings on many of the top stocks, unless there has been a major change inside of a company.

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 Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) was started with a Buy rating and was assigned a $96 target price (versus $82.09 prior close) at Citigroup.

Alcon Inc. (NYSE: ALC) was started with a Neutral rating at Citigroup.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch.

Avis Budget Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR) was reiterated as Underweight and its target price was lowered to $26 from $32 at Morgan Stanley. Shares closed down 3.4% at $28.91 on Wednesday, with a 52-week range of $23.86 to $52.98 and a $46.83 prior consensus target price.

Axonics Modulation Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: AXNX) was reiterated as Buy and its target price was raised to $48 from $38 (versus a $37.73 prior close) at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Becton, Dickinson and Co. (NYSE: BDX) was started with a Neutral rating at Citigroup.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral with a $100 target price (versus a $104.00 close) at Goldman Sachs. It was indicated down 2.4% at $101.50, and its prior consensus target price was $118.62. The 52-week trading range is $98.91 to $132.76.

Cheniere Energy Partners L.P. (NYSE: CQP) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $41.50 target price (versus a $32.60 close, after a 3.2% drop) at UBS. It has a 52-week range of $31.38 to $49.30, and its prior consensus target price was $41.16.

China Petrol & Chemical Corp. (NYSE: SNP) was named as the Zacks Bear of the Day stock. The firm said that oil and China are probably not the right places to invest now. Shares last closed at $52.07, with a consensus price target of $75.70.

Cooper Companies Inc. (NYSE: COO) was started with a Neutral rating at Citigroup.

DexCom Inc. (NASDAQ: DXCM) was started with a Buy rating and a $330 target price at Citigroup. The stock was up 4% at $283.87 a share as of Wednesday’s close, with a consensus target price of $294.93 and a 52-week trading range of $107.44 to $306.71.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) was started with a Buy rating and a $252 target price (versus a $217.38 close) at Citigroup.

Insulet Corp. (NASDAQ: PODD) was started with a Buy rating and a $220 target price (versus a $179.05 close) at Citigroup.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) was started with a Neutral rating at Merrill Lynch.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) was started with a Buy rating and a $163 target price (versus a $143.48 close) at Citigroup.

KB Home (NYSE: KBH) was named as the Bull of the Day at Zacks, which said that rates at all-time lows have to be great for homebuilders. Shares most recently closed at $35.99 and have a consensus price target of $40.50.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) was reiterated as Buy and its target price was raised to $32 from $28 at B. Riley FBR. Marvell closed up 6% at $22.59 on Wednesday, and it was indicated up 7.5% at $24.29 on Thursday. It had a $29.00 prior consensus target price, and the 52-week trading range is $18.08 to $28.86.

Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Merrill Lynch. Shares closed down 1.5% at $27.49 on Wednesday, against a 52-week range of $11.54 to $36.00 and with a $33.22 consensus target price.

Novocure Ltd. (NASDAQ: NVCR) was raised to Overweight with a $90 target price (versus a $73.62 close) at Wells Fargo.

NuVasive Inc. (NASDAQ: NUVA) was started with a Neutral rating at Citigroup.

Silicon Laboratories Inc. (NASDAQ: SLAB) was raised to Buy from Hold with a $115 target price at Needham. The stock closed up 4.4% at $92.06 on Wednesday, with a $122.75 consensus target price.

Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: SWKS) was raised to Buy from Hold but its target price was lowered to $125 from $130 at Canaccord Genuity. It closed up 3.7% at $103.36 ahead of the call, with a $127.76 consensus target price.

Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) was raised to Buy from Neutral with a $19 target price at MKM Partners. Snap closed up 0.6% at $13.63 and was indicated up almost 1% at $13.75 on Thursday, with a 52-week range of $9.16 to $19.75 and against a consensus target price of $20.00.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) was up 4.6% at $155.40 ahead of earnings, but its shares were indicated down about 3% at $150.50 after guidance contained some less than robust sales versus expectations. Raymond James maintained its Outperform rating and lowered its target price to $179 from $199. Cowen reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target to $165 from $160. Needham reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $180 from $160, while SunTrust Robinson Humphrey reiterated its Buy rating and maintained its $190 target price. Wedbush Securities reiterated it as Outperform with a $200 target price.

Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK) was started with a Buy rating and a $235 target price (versus a $198.40 close) at Citigroup.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. NASDAQ: ZM) was last seen trading down 7.7% at $107.80 despite strong earnings, likely as its stock was up almost 30% since mid-February as the coronavirus and company’s keeping workers at home creates that much more opportunities for Zoom to win business. Piper Sandler reiterated it as Neutral but raised its target price to $110 from $70.

With long-term U.S. interest rates at all-time lows, Merrill Lynch has five conservative income stocks that should shine against such low interest rates.

The range of electric vehicles may have just been extended to 400 miles on a single charge, and it wasn’t by Elon Musk.

Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades included Altria, Beyond Meat, Chevron, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Epizyme, FedEx, Home Depot, Mattel, Morgan Stanley, Oracle, Qualcomm, Target and many more.