Earnings season has started and Wall Street analysts are making many changes to their 2014 outlooks. At the same time, investors are still positioning their portfolios for 2014 and beyond. 24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of Wall Street analyst research reports each morning looking for the top stocks to buy and also for stocks to sell. These are this Thursday's top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen from Wall Street research firms.
Alcatel-Lucent S.A. (ALU) was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight by Evercore Partners. This appears to be a valuation call as the price target was held steady at $4.50 per share. The ADRs closed at $4.37 and are indicated down almost 3% at $4.25 on Thursday. The 52-week high is $4.68 and the consensus price target is up at $4.90.
CSX Corp. (CSX) was raised to Buy from Hold at Argus. Stifel Nicolaus downgraded CSX to Hold from Buy. Shares are down 4.5% at $27.92 after earnings.
Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) was downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform by Raymond James. It seems that the buyout chatter may not be as real as some had hoped. This is just two days after Barclays downgraded the stock to Underweight from Equal Weight.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The firm based the upgrade on valuation at only about eight times expected earnings, as well as stabilizing earnings, strong free cash flow and capital returns. The firm also acknowledged secular challenges, but the price target was set all the way up at $39.00, versus a closing price of $28.84.
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Other Key Analyst Calls
Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) was raised to Neutral from Reduce at Nomura Securities.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
Emulex Corp. (ELX) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Merrill Lynch.
FireEye Inc. (FEYE) was started as Outperform at William Blair.
Kroger Co. (KR) was downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform by JMP Securities.
SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) was started with a Buy rating and given a $90 price target (versus a $68.50 close) at Deutsche Bank. Shares were indicated up more than 3% at $71.00 in early trading.
SunPower Corp. (SPWR) was started with an Overweight rating and a $38.50 target price (versus a $31.87 closing price) at J.P. Morgan. Shares were indicated up almost 2.5% at $32.65 in early trading.
VMware Inc. (VMW) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
Western Digital Corp. (WDC) was raised to Buy from Neutral and the price target was raised up to $102 (versus an $88.98 close) at Merrill Lynch.
Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) was reiterated as Neutral and its estimates were lowered at Sterne Agee, and the firm sees risks to on its earnings with limited visibility ahead.