Yet another effect of the messed up global markets is the increasing number of analysts cutting price targets dramatically, while upgrading to "buy," their recommendations on the very same stocks.
The latest to get this treatment is Inmet Mining Inc. (IEMMF.PK), which was upgraded from "sector perform" to "outperform" by RBC Capital Markets analyst H. Fraser Phillips even though Mr. Phillips lowered his price target from C$74 to C$33.
With global recession near or here, RBC Capital reduced its commodity forecasts on Friday, including those for base metals like aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, zinc, uranium, cobalt and molybdenum.
As a result, Mr. Phillips lowered his earnings estimates for Inmet, a diversified miner with exposure to copper, zinc and gold, "to reflect normalized earnings in a recession scenario."
For 2008, the analyst now expects earnings per share of $6.80, down from $8.37 and EPS of only a $1.90 in 2009, down dramatically from his previous estimate of $6.87. He also lowered his 2010 EPS estimate from $9.07 to $4.16.
Meanwhile, Inmet stock, up 18% so far Friday, has steadily declined from around $100 in March to its current level in the mid $20s, thanks to tanking commodity prices and the overall market sell off that has left no stock safe over that period.
Obviously bearish on Inmet's future earnings given the economic environment, Mr. Phillips nonetheless believes the Inmet sell off to date has been overdone given its sound financial outlook.
"Inmet had $1-billion in cash on its balance sheet at the end of Q2/08 and will continue to generate free cash flow at our revised metal prices," he told clients in a note, adding that the company's capex commitments are minimal.