Earnings season is winding down and stocks are challenging new all-time highs. Investors and traders alike are considering how to position themselves for 2014. Each morning 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street research reports looking for new ideas for our readers. Some are stocks to buy and some are stocks to sell. These are this Monday's top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.
Twitter Inc. (TWTR) was started as Sell with a $34 valuation at Wunderlich Securities. We just offered up a full Twitter analyst montage over the weekend, and this is just one more negative valuation call.
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Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) was downgraded to Underperform from an already cautious Neutral rating at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, but the firm is maintaining its $36 price target after a $37.84 closing price. Monday's downgrade is based on a CEO transition risk, noting that an outsider like Mulally might bring a 10% premium but that internal candidates could bring 10% downside.
Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) was reiterated as Buy with a $22 price target at Argus, but the firm said that it is raising earnings estimates, and it said that the stock deserves to trade at a premium against peers, even though it currently trades at a discount to peers.
Halcon Resources Corp. (HK) was downgraded to Sell from an already cautious Neutral rating and the price target was cut to $4.50 from $6.00 (versus a $4.74 close) at Goldman Sachs. This stock is down close to 52-week lows, and it continues to disappoint based on management's strong history.
Other analyst calls are as follows:
Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) was downgraded to Sell from Neutral by Citigroup.
Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) was reiterated as Buy with a $22 price target (versus a $17.52 close) at Argus.
Baxter International Inc. (BAX) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral and the price target was raised to $80 from $73 at Credit Suisse.
CONSOL Energy Inc. (CNX) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.
Goldcorp Inc. (GG) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) was downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.
Nucor Corp. (NUE) was downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup.
Renewable Energy Group Inc. (REGI) was downgraded to Hold from Buy with a $14 price target at Canaccord Genuity.
SUPERVALU Inc. (SVU) was downgraded to Sell from an already cautious Neutral rating and the price target was cut to $6 from $8 (versus a $6.88 close) at Goldman Sachs.
3D Systems Corp. (DDD) was reiterated as Buy and the price target was raised to $90 from $69 at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Vitamin Shoppe Inc. (VSI) was added to the prized Conviction Buy List at Goldman Sachs.