Thursday's Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: Baidu, BNY Mellon, Corning, Merck, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Pfizer, Rivian, Target and More

The futures were mixed after the major indexes all broke out for a long-awaited risk-on day to close higher for the first time in 2023. Strategists cited some cooler inflation numbers out of Europe, and other metrics that suggest inflation, while still historically high, is slowing. Some of the mega-cap leaders like Apple and Tesla rebounded after a dreadful start to the new year on fears of slowing demand. The FOMC minutes, while remaining hawkish, brought no additional major surprises to derail the rally Wednesday.

Yields across the Treasury curve were lower Wednesday, providing another lift to equities. Mortgage demand plunged to end 2022 down 13.2%, and the backup in yields is perceived as a positive there as well. The 10-year note closed at 3.71%, after hovering near 3.90% last week. The inversion with the two-year paper stayed in place as it closed on Wednesday at 4.36%. The inversion signals recession is on the way to the bond market.

Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude were the big losers, as both closed down almost 5% at $78.03 and $73.17, respectively. A small increase in December OPEC production and demand concerns seemed to weigh on the black gold the most. Institutional investors still remain quite positive on the oil for 2023 and have increased their long positions, according to reports. Natural gas was the big winner, closing up over 4% at $4.16. Gold continued to push higher, up 1% on the day at $1855, while Bitcoin also closed higher at $16,818, up almost 1%.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week with a goal of finding fresh ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of these daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid. Remember that no single analyst call should ever be used as a basis to buy or sell a stock. Consensus analyst target data is from Refinitiv.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday, January 5, 2023.

Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB): Vertical Research raised its Hold rating to Buy with a $275 target price. The consensus target is $310.13. Wednesday’s final trade was reported at $223.57, up over 4% on the day.

Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU): Zacks points out how its Bull of the Day stock could benefit from the softening by Chinese authorities on the country’s tech giants. Baidu shares last closed at $131.76, and the consensus price target of $165.03 signals more than 25% upside potential.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (NYSE: BK): Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to Buy from Neutral and has a $59 target price. The consensus target is $49.80. Wednesday’s close was at $47.44.

Boston Beer Co. (NYSE: SAM): Jefferies downgraded shares of the popular brewer to Underperform from Hold and lowered the $331 target price to $275. The consensus target is $333.11. The stock closed on Wednesday at $327.72.

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