Analysts have been sending out their research reports to their clients again this week. The following is a review of the most important upgrades for the week of April 23-27.
Nomura raised its advice for Amazon.com (AMZN) from neutral to buy with a $285 target. Colleagues at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch raise their target to $270 after the company reported very strong sales growth for the first quarter after the close on Thursday. Both banks praise the strong revenue growth and point out the room for margin expansion later this year. Shares of Amazon closed 16% higher on Friday to $227 per share, which leaves some 25% upside according to Nomura.
Both JP Morgan and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch boosted their recommendation for Zynga (ZNGA) after the company released a disappointing quarterly earnings report. Shares fell almost 10% on Friday to $8.52 after the game producer reported a $85 million loss for the first quarter. JP Morgan which has a $14 price target (indicating 64% upside), cites that strong user growth and the fact that mobile games are gaining traction are very positive for the long term prospects of the company as it reduces its dependence on Facebook. Shares have seen a 40% correction trading almost at $15 per share as recent as March.
Morgan Stanley initiated research coverage for F5 Networks (FFIV) with an overweight rating accompanied by a $155 price target. The investment bank sees 14% upside for the provider of application delivery network solutions as the company is well positioned to benefit from "increase adoption of layer processing in the network space." Shares of F5 Networks have already returned over 28% year to date and trade close to their all time highs. The exposure to cloud, virtualization and security will lead to accelerating revenue growth in 2013 according to the bank.
Societe Generale raised its advice for Apple (AAPL) from hold to buy with a $750 price target. Apple's strong first quarter results pushed shares back above the $600 mark as shares hit levels around $560 as a result of a recent correction.
The French bank sees 24% upside potential as strong demand for the iPhone in China could continue to drive revenue growth for the remainder of the year. Analysts were concerned that Apple could struggle in traditionally low-end handsets markets, but the strong results from China proved that assumption wrong. "Therefore the gross margins on the iPhone are approaching 60% much higher than previous forecasts".
JP Morgan raised its advice for Autozone (AZO) to overweight as investments should drive solid sales growth and management is keeping a tight eye on costs. The bank sees 10% more upside to $435 per share as the recent buyback announcements make the stock a much more defensive play. Shares in the retailer and distributor of automotive replacement parts gained another 4% during the week, now trading at all time highs of $397.
Citigroup raised its advice for Celanese (CE) from neutral to buy with a $56 price target. Citigroup is bullish on the valuation of the technology and global specialty material company and cites the departure of the former CEO as a bullish sign. The new CEO Rohr is most likely to make changes in the company's operations and has a strong track record of delivering earnings growth. Furthermore the company has committed to a more shareholder friendly strategy as it hiked its quarterly dividend by 25% recently.
FBR Capital Markets raised its advice for Citrix Systems (CTXS) from market perform to outperform with a $100 price target. FBR sees 16% more upside potential for the IT service provider. Shares trade around all time highs after the company raised its full year 2012 outlook earlier this week causing shares to close 10% higher on the week.
Barclays raised its advice for Harley Davidson (HOG) from equalweight to overweight with a $62 target. The UK-based bank sees 17% upside for the motorcycle manufacturer after the company boosted its sales forecast this week prompting the shares to close 2% higher. The company now expects to sell anywhere between 245,000 and 250,000 motor cycles for the entire year of 2012.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Deutsche Bank raised its advice for Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) from hold to buy with a $100 target. Shares have seen a 10% correction in recent weeks now trading at $85 per share. The German-based bank believes that the recent pull-back offers a good buy opportunity as moderating wing prices, healthy comparable sales trends and strong pricing power continue to be main drivers for the future.
Nomura raised its advice for Fortinet (FTNT) from neutral to buy and raised its price target to $32. The bank sees another 22% upside for the provider of network security appliances after the company published its quarterly earnings which were in line with analyst consensus. Shares lost 3% during the week as investors were slightly disappointed by the earnings report. Nomura believes there is more upside in shares as they could take out their all time highs of $29 per share.
Stock markets have seen a nice rebound this week closing almost 2% higher in case of the S&P 500. The bullish sentiment triggered a wave of upgrade recommendations from analysts who see even more upside potential in some names.
While many recommendations were made after the release of earning reports, the recommendations of analysts can surely move stocks on the day of the announcement and the days thereafter.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.