With stocks surging at the start of July and with COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in America, the economy finds itself in a bit of a jam. It seems impossible to rationalize that the largest technology stocks in America are all challenging all-time highs in the midst of an atrocious recession. And that is exactly where we are at this time. Many investors did not catch the bulk of the recovery after March’s selling zenith had investors so worried, and this has investors looking for any new ideas they can find for how to be positioned for the second half of 2020.
24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week and it turns out to be hundreds of analyst calls each week. Our goal is to find some of those new ideas that investors can consider for their own portfolios. And out of the calla from the week of July 2 there were several unusual analyst upgrades and price target hikes that stood out above and beyond the rest of the analyst calls. As for why they were unusual was unique to each stock, but some of these are now among the most aggressive analyst calls on Wall Street.
One warning that every reader should consider is that n single analyst call should ever be used as a sole reason to buy (or sell) a stock. And if these are unusual upgrades and target hikes, then even more additional research and due diligence should be used before blindly chasing the calls with the hopes that the bull market can just keep chugging higher and higher.
Before getting into the calls, it is important to understand just where the markets are after the 2020 COVID-19 crash and recession were followed by the strongest snap-back recovery. The S&P 500 was back above 3,100 on July 2 after challenging 2,200 during the peak selling pressure in March. It barely took a month from February to March to lose 35%, but the S&P 500 was up about 43% from its absolute March lows at the start of July. That is not normal market behavior and it should make some of the more unusual analyst upgrades at the highs stand out even more.
Here are 10 high-profile unusual analyst upgrades where price targets were vaulted or higher or where ratings and targets were hiked during the week of July 2, 2020.
Akamai Playing Catch-Up
Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) may sound like one of those “better late than never” as the internet infrastructure and content speed-boosting player was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen & Co. on July 2. The firm raised its price target up to $150 from $107, and while that was a against a $106.33 prior close a headline indicated that this move above $113.00 was a 20-year high. Analysts are not known for upgrades at the bottom of a trend, but this stock was at $80 at the peak of the panic selling in March and the consensus target price of $112.82 is now under the share price.
Akamai’s prior street-high target was just $130, so this call stood out. Cowen’s Colby Synesael is effectively noting how the stock needs to play catch-up as it has not risen as much as other internet infrastructure plays during the stay-at-home trends.
Amazon Rides the Bezos Spaceship
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) was reiterated as Buy and its price target was raised to $3,500 from $2,800 at Monness Crespi Hardt on June 29. This was a new street-high analyst target, and the stock has been receiving multiple target hikes that were not as aggressive as this target price. The MCH upgrade was based on having the key infrastructure and capabilities, along with the financial strength, to endure and win in the COVID-19 era.
Amazon shares have traded at a high above $2,950 now and it may now have the world’s highest brand value. What is interesting there is that this was the same quarter that Jeff Bezos warned it would be reinvesting almost all of profits into the team of employees and into the company as it positions itself for the future. Amazon’s consensus analyst target price is closer to $2,815.
Avis Budget Still Driving
Avis Budget Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CAR) was raised to Overweight from Equal Weight with a $37 price target at Morgan Stanley on July 2. The call was versus a $22.48 prior close and it sent Avis Budget shares up 13% to $25.50 late on Thursday. Avis Budget had a $32.00 consensus analyst target price ahead of the call.
While the call is very positive, the travel industry is facing a whammy as COVID-19 cases surge higher and as summer travel plans are being harmed by states dialing down some of their reopening efforts.