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CenturyLink shares rally after Wells Fargo upgrades to lead S&P 500 gainers

Ciara Linnane

CenturyLink Inc. shares soared 7% on Thursday to lead S&P 500 gainers, after Wells Fargo upgraded the stock of the communications infrastructure company to outperform from market perform. The company is an interesting moment in its evolution, analysts led by Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in a note to clients. "We believe the messaging and evolution of the org structure at CTL is showing more of the "fiber roots" that came from the Level3 side of the house and will continue to include both dark fiber and wireless in its approach," the analysts wrote. "We view this move positively -and believe it is underappreciated by the Street." They emphasized that the call is not about the company's second quarter, for which Wells is below consensus on revenue, but rather about the fact that Wall Street is giving CenturyLink no credidt for a back half improvement "which we believe is achievable given the intense fiber centric focus it is now undertaking," said the note. Wells is raising its stock price target to $14 from $12, equal to 28% above current levels. CenturyLink shares have fallen 23% in 2019, underperforming the S&P 500 , which has gained 17%.