AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) may have won a victory after the approval of its Time Warner acquisition was finally cleared by U.S. regulators. Whether that victory was truly good depends on whom you ask, and it may be years before investors get to find out whether marrying a major telecom platform with a media and content creator will work in the new world of converged media. One key analyst on Wall Street believes the deal will not hurt shareholders further, and he has effectively called a bottom in the stock.
Monday’s lineup of the top analyst upgrades and downgrades included a note from Morgan Stanley analyst Simon Flannery. The firm resumed coverage of AT&T shares with an Overweight rating. The firm’s price target is $37.00, and that compares to the Wall Street consensus price target of $37.35. The shares closed Tuesday at $31.61, implying upside of 17%, before considering AT&T’s 6% dividend yield, based on the current share price.
Flannery believes that there remains significant uncertainty around AT&T, but he also believes that the current depressed share price should already reflect those concerns. Flannery further believes that the path of least resistance over the next 12 months should be for the shares to trade higher.
This should be considered an analyst upgrade by most counts, and it came at a time when AT&T shares were down over 15% for the trailing year and down over 16% so far in 2018.
As a reminder, most analyst calls in Dow Jones industrial and S&P 500 stocks currently call for upside of 8% to 10% at this stage in the market. Other analyst calls on AT&T in the month of June have been seen as follows:
- S&P downgraded AT&T’s debt to BBB on June 15 based on leverage tied to the Time Warner deal.
- Oppenheimer raised its rating on shares to Outperform from Perform on June 13.
- JPMorgan started AT&T as Neutral with a $36 target on June 19.
- MoffettNathanson downgraded it to Sell from Neutral with a $28 target price on June 13.
- Jefferies downgraded it to Hold from Buy on June 7, with a $35 target price.
AT&T shares were last seen trading higher by 0.9%, at $31.90, on Wednesday morning. Its 52-week trading range is $31.17 to $39.80.
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