CHANGE IN RATINGS
downgraded at FBR to an Underperform rating as consumer credit deterioration is in early stage.
American Express downgraded at Goldman Sachs to Neutral from Buy following preannouncement of negative Q4 earnings. Weaker credit trends in US lending portfolio, higher lending and charge card reserves, and slowing growth in worldwide Cardmember spending all contributed to shortfall. Price target cut to $55 from $81.
Brown & Brown
downgraded at Wachovia from Outperform to Market Perform. Estimates also cut because of margins pressures. Company also has exposure to weakening Florida market.
( BSC) upgraded at Merrill from Neutral to Buy. $103 price target. Valuation call, as the stock is trading at an 8% discount to book value. Estimates still cut, to reflect a lower 10% ROE.
downgraded at CIBC from Outperform to Sector Perform. Valuation call, based on a $27 price target. DRS, BEAV and TGI offer better values at current levels.
upgraded at JP Morgan from Neutral to Overweight. Earnings expectations have become more reasonable, but the overall investor sentiment now appears too bearish. Stock is trading at just 14 times earnings, or a 21% discount to the group.
upgraded at JP Morgan from Neutral to Overweight. Company is a defensive name, with few cyclical levers and should continue to generate steady free cash flow.
downgraded at Oppenheimer to a Neutral rating based on its valuation premium and increased downtime in rig fleet.
downgraded at Merrill from Buy to Neutral. Stock will likely be in a narrow range, until the June release of Kung Fu Panda. DVD market also remains uncertain.
upgraded at JP Morgan from Neutral to Overweight. Stock is down 30% from its highs, and the P/E has also contracted below its historical average. That said, near-term airfreight trends should be positive.
Advanced Medical Optics
upgraded at Jefferies to Buy rating from Hold. However, price target dips to $28 from $29 while 2008 eps estimates cut to $1.20 from $1.35.
upgraded at JP Morgan from Underweight to Neutral. End-markets remains attractive, though its US exposure remains an earnings risk. Valuation in-line with peers.
( HS) upgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Buy. $29 price target. Stock is 18% off its highs, and the Leon Medical acquisition will add to earnings.
upgraded at UBS to Buy rating from Neutral. Price target jumps to $85 from $62 and FY 2008 eps estimates bump to $1.26 from $1.25.
downgraded at Morgan Stanley to Equal-weight. Half its earnings come from retirees, which are receiving lower Medicare benefits. UNH, a large customer, may also take its business in-house.
Nordic American Tankers
upgraded at UBS to Neutral rating from Sell. However, price target and FY 2008 eps estimates both cut to $31 from $32 and $2.19 from $2.50, respectively.
upgraded at Citigroup to Buy. Stock is down 29% from its November highs, and is growing much faster than its peers. $23 price target.
upgraded at Jefferies to Buy rating from Hold. Price target jumps to $65 from $28 while 2008 eps estimates hold at $1.95.
upgraded at JP Morgan to Overweight rating from Underweight. JP Morgan believes that SPX has become a more focused company that will continue to capitalize on growth in late cycle end markets and global infrastructure boom.
upgraded at Credit Suisse to Outperform from Neutral based on valuation. Sets $33 target price.
upgraded at UBS to Buy rating from Neutral. Price target and FY 2008 eps estimates hold at $56 and $3.09, respectively.
( WMG) upgraded at Merrill from Sell to Buy. Stock is down 56% over the past three months, and the selloff appears overdone. Release slate also will improve in the second half of 2008.
STOCK COMMENTS / EPS CHANGES
target price raised at Deutsche Bank from $103 to $114 to reflect higher mid-cycle oil and gas price assumptions. Maintained Hold rating.
2007 estimates raised at Morgan Stanley to $4.89 a share. Company is seeing better raw material and energy cost recovery, and well as lower operating expenses. Overweight rating and $80 price target.
2008 estimates raised at Goldman to $1.79 from $1.73 based on solid holiday sales. Note same store sales growth of 20% but decelerating hardware and software sales. Maintained Neutral rating and $57 target.
added to Focus List at JP Morgan. $55 price target. Pullback creates an attractive entry point. Current sentiment is overly bearish, versus the PC growth outlook. Printer growth remains strong. Overweight rating. SNDK also removed from the list.
target price raised at FBR to $81 to reflect higher multiple on earnings.
price target raised at Goldman to $70 from $67 based on strong Q4 results. Note strength across all metrics, including sharp margin improvement. Maintained Buy rating.
estimates raised at Morgan Stanley to $1.38 a share. Company raised guidance, though could still be affected by lower retail/financial orders and a US recession. Maintain Equal-weight rating.
2008 estimates cut at Deutsche Bank by 6 cents to 40 cents a share following Q4 results. Maintained Hold rating.
STRATEGY CALLS / MARKET CALLS
Two Truck Parts stocks upgraded at Baird
:AXL and TEN were upgraded to Neutral, Robert Baird said. Valuation calls, though near-term risks to truck growth remains.
Two Oil Services stocks upgraded at Wachovia
: WFT and BHI were upgraded from Market Perform to Outperform, Wachovia said. International and integrated project opportunities offset any further expected North American weakness.
This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.