Berkshire, American Express: Ratings Changes

Berkshire Hathaway, American Express and PulteGroup had their ratings changed at TheStreet.
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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) - Get Report, American Express (AXP) - Get Report and Pulte (PHM) - Get Report had their ratings changed by TheStreet's stock model.

Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire investor

Warren Buffett's

holding company, was downgraded to "hold."

Quarter

: Berkshire swung to a first-quarter profit of $3.6 billion, or $1.51, from a loss of $1.5 billion, or $990, a year earlier. Revenue stretched 36%. The operating margin turned positive. The balance sheet holds $26 billion of cash and $58 billion of debt.

Stock

: Berkshire has risen 29% during the past year, slightly outpacing the

S&P 500 Index

. It sells for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 19 and a price-to-cash-flow ratio of 16, 61% and 45% premiums to peer averages. It's also expensive based on book value.

Consensus

: Of firms rating Berkshire, none advocate purchasing its shares, five recommend holding and one suggests selling them.

KBW

(KBW)

believes the stock will rise 7% to $125,000.

Barclays

(BCS) - Get Report

predicts that it will climb to $132,000.

Credit-card company American Express was upgraded to "buy."

Quarter

: First-quarter profit doubled to $885 million, or 73 cents, as revenue grew 11%. The operating margin stretched from 9.5% to 19%. American Express has $21 billion of cash and $74 billion of debt, translating to a debt-to-equity ratio of 5.5.

Stock

: American Express has advanced 71% during the past 12 months, beating major stock-market benchmarks. It sells for a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 13, an 18% discount to the industry average. It's costly based on book value, sales and cash flow.

Consensus

: Of researchers following American Express, 15, or 56%, rate its stock "buy," nine rate it "hold" and three rank it "sell."

Stifel Financial

(SF) - Get Report

offers a target of $60, leaving a potential 38% return.

Piper Jaffray

(PJC) - Get Report

expects the stock to hit $56.

Homebuilder Pulte was upgraded to "hold."

Quarter

: Pulte's first-quarter loss narrowed to $12 million, or 3 cents, from a loss of $515 million, or $2.02, a year earlier. Revenue soared 75%. The operating margin remained negative. Pulte holds $2.6 billion of cash and $4.3 billion of debt.

Stock

: Pulte has risen 15% during the past year, underperforming U.S. stock-market indices. It trades at a price-to-projected-earnings ratio of 35, a 48% premium to its peer average. The shares are cheap based on book value, sales and cash flow.

Consensus

: Of analysts covering Pulte, two advise purchasing its shares, 11 recommend holding and four suggest selling them.

JPMorgan

(JPM) - Get Report

expects the stock to advance 21% to $15.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

predict that it will hit $14.

Visit Stockpickr's

Ratings Upgrades Portfolio

and

Ratings Downgrades Portfolio

-- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.