Friday's Bounce Back: Analysts Upgrade or Downgrade Altria, Marathon Oil, Shopify and More

Markets bounced back again on Friday, with each of the major averages up over 2%. This has been perhaps the best trading week in the past few months, or since the Ukraine conflict kicked off. There is some optimism surrounding this bounce, but it is very possible that markets could drift lower going forward, considering more interest rate hikes are on the table.

Even though interest rate hikes could negatively affect equity markets in the near term, it is overall more beneficial to take the pain early on than suffer through a prolonged downturn or recession. Many economists were critical of the Federal Reserve calling inflation “transitory” last year, when it was beginning to pick up speed, which may have been the best time to raise rates.

The most recent rate hike of 75 basis points was the largest seen since the mid-1990s. A slower ramp to higher interest rates could have been implanted in the fall of last year to curtail the effects of the $6 trillion printed over the course of the pandemic. Also, a slower ramp up in rates would have put less pressure on equities, and presumably investors would be seeing much less volatile swings in day-to-day trading.

24/7 Wall St. is reviewing additional analyst calls seen on Friday. We have included the latest call on each stock, as well as a recent trading history and the consensus targets among analysts. Note that analyst calls seen earlier in the day were on Amgen, CarMax, General Electric, Home Depot, Palantir and more.

Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO): Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to Equal Weight from Underweight and cut the $47 price target to $43. The 52-week trading range is $41.00 to $57.05, and shares traded above $42 apiece on Friday.

American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK): Janney upgraded the shares to Buy from Neutral. The 52-week trading range is $129.45 to $189.65, and shares traded above $145 apiece on Friday.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NASDAQ: ACB): Cantor Fitzgerald’s upgrade was to Overweight from Neutral. The stock traded near $1.50 on Friday. The 52-week trading range is $1.21 to $9.54.

Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX): Wells Fargo lowered its Equal Weight rating to Overweight rating with a $71 price target. The 52-week trading range is $63.25 to $89.70. Shares were changing hands near $64 on Friday.

CytomX Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CTMX): BMO Capital Markets started coverage with an Outperform rating and a $9 price target. The shares traded near $2 on Friday. The 52-week trading range is $1.50 to $7.53.

Denny’s Corp. (NASDAQ: DENN): Wedbush’s downgrade to Neutral from Outperform included a price target cut to $10 from $19. The 52-week trading range is $8.46 to $17.40, and shares were trading near $8 on Friday.

Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO): As Citigroup cut its Buy rating to Neutral, it also lowered the price target to $24 from $31. The stock traded near $22 on Friday, in a 52-week range of $10.41 to $33.24.

Progressive Corp. (NYSE: PGR): Keefe Bruyette upgraded the shares to Market Perform from Underperform and raised the $96 price target to $107. The 52-week range is $89.35 to $121.36. Shares traded near $111 apiece on Friday.

Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP): Morgan Stanley resumed coverage with an Equal Weight rating and a $450 price target. The stock traded near $376 on Friday, in a 52-week range of $297.64 to $1,762.92.

Eight top energy stocks have backed up in price and are enticing buys now for growth and income investors, as they pay reliable (in some cases outsized) dividends. These companies will continue to profit from elevated energy prices as demand still far outstrips supply.

One biotech stock may be poised to double its share price in the next year, and J.P. Morgan has an offbeat pair of stock picks with huge upside potential.

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