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Goldman Sachs: 3 Large-Cap Stocks To Sell Now

Most of the time analysts issue bullish calls on stocks. So when an analyst publishes a Hold rating, or even more rarely a Sell rating, it’s time to take note. Here are three stocks with a very bearish outlook from Goldman Sachs right now. According to the firm, these 3 stocks all deserve the most worrying ‘underperform’ rating based on their outlook for the coming months. Here we take a closer look at why Goldman Sachs is advising against these three stocks, and whether or not the rest of the Street agrees. Let’s dive in now:

Seagate Technology PLC

With the HDD (hard disk drives) market in secular decline, it’s not surprising that Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney remains unconvinced about Seagate Tech (STX– Get Report). His Sell rating comes with a $37 price target- suggesting prices could plummet 34% in the coming months. Indeed, the data storage company has already rallied 46% year-to-date- and for Delaney that’s a key reason for caution going forward.

"We believe HDDs remain a cyclical industry, and one facing secular challenges in many parts of the market from the growth of SSDs (solid-state drives) that are based on NAND flash," Delaney told investors when he first downgraded the stock. He also prefers larger storage rival Western Digital (WDC)- which has a more neutral Hold rating from the Goldman analyst. Unlike STX, WDC also has large exposure to NAND flash, thanks to its 2016 SanDisk acquisition.

Meanwhile Barclays analyst Tim Long also recently initiated STX with a Sell rating- and an even more bearish price target of $32. He warns that top-line pressure and a possible increase in research and development "could disrupt the capital return to shareholders." Overall STX scores a Hold rating from the Street based on all the ratings published over the last three months. The average analyst price target stands at $47 (16% downside potential).

Gilead Sciences Inc

Drugs giant Gilead (GILD– Get Report) received the thumbs down from Goldman Sachs earlier this year. “We are downgrading GILD to Sell from Neutral and lowering our price target to $60 from $70 which represents -10% downside vs 17% avg upside for the rest of our coverage,” Terence Flynn wrote. Indeed, with Gilead now trading at $66 the analyst’s new $60 price target is one of the Street’s lowest price targets and suggests considerable downside risk lies ahead.  

With the loss of the blockbuster HCV franchise and near total market dominance in HIV (80% of US patients on anti-retrovirals are on a Gilead product), Gilead is in a period of change as management searches for new avenues to generate growth. "GILD currently trades at ~10x NTM P/E and barring another "Pharmasset" and/or internal pipeline success we find it difficult to see the stock's multiple expanding" says Flynn.

According to the analyst, GILD has a “very limited” mid-to-late stage pipeline of drugs under development. The analyst told investors: “[T]he company has a new CEO and we assume that rebuilding the pipeline and improving R&D productivity across the organization will be a key area of focus… This can clearly take time and we anticipate there will be tremendous competition for innovative/growth assets.”

However, the rest of the Street is notably more optimistic. Not only are we looking at a Strong Buy analyst consensus, but significant upside potential of 28% according to the average analyst price target. “We look towards the expansion of the pipeline via M&A (i.e., Galapagos so far) to drive long-term growth” writes Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy. He has a buy rating on GILD with an $84 price target.

PVH Corp

One of the world’s largest apparel companies, PVH (PVH– Get Report) owns both Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. However that isn’t enough to win over Goldman Sachs analyst Alexandra Walvis. On August 30 she slashed her price target from $82 to $73 while maintaining a Sell rating. From current levels her price target indicates downside potential of almost 20%.

In fact the analyst has recently issued Sell ratings on a number of apparel companies, including Ralph Lauren (RL); Levi Strauss (LEVI) and Tapestry Inc (TPR). So what's driving all these bearish calls?

“The combination of persistently tough first-half retail trends and an optimistic spring ordering season has driven inventory overhangs at several multibrand retailers," Walvis revealed. "These retailers are thus tightening up ordering as we head into the critical back-to-school and holiday season. We thus see incremental sell-in risk for apparel brands, particularly those with high exposure to department stores."

In particular, the Goldman analyst warned of potentially fading growth at PVH's Tommy Hilfiger brand thanks to its dependence on outlet stores, as well as challenges over at Calvin Klein. “While brands that have been investing in building strong direct-to-consumer omnichannel commerce are likely to be more insulated, we take a more cautious view on nonathletic apparel brands whose direct-to-consumer businesses are skewed towards outlet stores, particularly given challenged traffic trends in these locations,” she said.

And a note of caution: Apple Inc

Although Goldman Sachs has a Hold rating on Apple (AAPL– Get Report) (rather than Sell) it is worth nothing that analyst Rod Hall just made a notably bearish move on the stock. On September 13 he significantly cut his AAPL price target from $187 to $165 (24% downside potential).

He blamed Apple’s accounting practices for the move: “We believe that Apple plans to account for its 1-year trial for TV+ as a ~$60 discount to a combined hardware and services bundle,” wrote Hall.

“Effectively, Apple’s method of accounting moves revenue from hardware to Services even though customers do not perceive themselves to be paying for TV+. Though this might appear convenient for Apple’s services revenue line it is equally inconvenient for both apparent hardware ASPs and margins in high sales quarters like the upcoming FQ1′20 to December,” the analyst added.

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