Updating Price Targets And Ratings For 5 Companies

by: David Ristau

Earnings season is under way, and we are continuing to update price targets, buy/sell ratings, etc. for companies that we currently cover. Today, we have updated several companies. They include Kongzhong (KONG), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) and Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM).

The chart below shows new ratings, price targets and buy/sell ranges versus old ones:

Unknown ObjectKONG – Upgrade From Hold to Buy, Maintain PT at $6.50

Kongzhong (KONG) looks like a good buy right now. We maintained our PT at $6.50 after the last earnings report, and with the stock trading under $5, we see it as a fairly good value play right now. The company's latest earnings were decent, but it did disappoint our expectations. Yet, the company reduced capital expenditures and we decreased our outlook for increases in working capital, which made up for the difference in reduction in operating income.

ORCL – Maintain at Buy, Decrease PT From $48 to $42

Oracle (ORCL) is one of our favorite application software companies, and the company looks like a good buy right now. We reduced our price target for the company as we see some issues in Europe moving forward that made us reduce some of our expectations for operating income moving forward into 2012. Additionally, we increased our discount rate for the company as the company does have a significant portion of its business in Europe, and we saw that our targets were a bit lofty moving forward.

PEP – Maintain at Hold, Decrease PT From $70.50 to $69.50

PepsiCo got a slight slash in our price target as we reduced our expectations slightly for 2012 due to continuing issues in Europe. The company rates low on our beverage EquityAnalytics, and we do not see them as having a lot of upside from current levels. Currently, we would like to see a shift from the company's two-pronged approach of drinks and snacks. A separation of the business will provide a better upside for the company. We worry about Europe as well, and the growth of the company lags even in its own sector. There are just much better options in this space. The 3.2% dividend is very respectable, however.

SPWR - Downgrade From Hold to Sell, Decrease PT From $15.50 to $5.50

SunPower (SPWR) has definitely disappointed us this year. We significantly reduced our price target after the company is slated to lose about $500M in operating income this year. The company looks like it will move back to profitability in 2013. The company has reduced its debt and does have the backing of Total (NYSE:TOT), but the company has suffered from extreme price reductions. The company has gotten their bread and butter on highly proficient cells, and the commoditization of the market is definitely not a plus for SunPower. The issues in Europe were already bad before, and they are only getting worse right now. 2012 should see companies dealing with price reductions, and we see them returning to normalcy in 2013.

YUM - Maintain at Hold, Maintain at PT From $60

We did not change much in our outlook for Yum Brands after the last report. China has been strong for the company, and we expect them to continue that trend moving forward. The company, though, has a lot of this growth priced into the stock. The company's $3B+ of debt is definitely not a positive for the company, and the 460.5M outstanding shares does make it hard for a lot of future growth and increase in equity value to make significant impact on share prices. A reduction of debt would make a significant impact on the company's share price, however.

Disclosure: I am long ORCL.