Shares of chipmaker Intel Corp. (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report got a boost on Friday after a Morgan Stanley analyst upgraded his rating on the company's stock and raised his per-share price target by more than $10.
In a note to clients, Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore said he was upgrading Intel to overweight from equal weight and raising his price target to $64 a share from $55, based on what he called "a more financially oriented CEO."
Moore was referring to interim CEO Bob Swan, who ran the company for seven months following the resignation of Brian Krzanich, who stepped down in late June 2018 after the company learned Krzanich "had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee" that it deemed violated Intel's non-fraternization policy.
Swan, 58, who had been chief financial officer at eBay Inc. for nine years, joined Intel in 2016. He formally took over the CEO role at the end of January.
"While some investors wanted someone with more of a technology background, we think that one of Intel's biggest challenges in recent years has been its tendency to become enamored with technology over economics," Moore said.
Moore also noted that the company's more recent focus on business risk/reward, a mindset of optimizing free cash flow more than earnings, and a higher standard of M&A accretion all point to "the multiple expanding from 12x to 14x in our base case."
While he and his team remain cautious on the broader outlook for semiconductors, and Intel is not immune, "these idiosyncratic opportunities set them apart."
Intel shares were up nearly 3% in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, gaining $1.39 to $52.80. The company's stock has risen about 10% this year.