Aaron Task used the calm before the earnings storm to review recent analyst calls and the still-hot energy sector.

Subbing for Jim Cramer on the

"RealMoney" radio show Wednesday, Task,


co-executive editor, focused on the games analysts play ahead of earnings season.

"Analysts have an agenda," Task warned. It can be anything from loyalty to institutional clients to loyalty to a particular stock. "Take what they say with a grain of salt."

Task kicked off the segment by praising Oppenheimer's upgrade Tuesday of mega-retailer


(WMT) - Get Report

. But he warned listeners not to extrapolate good fortune at Wal-Mart across the sector, saying that "high-end retailers which have been hot may soon cool."

Elsewhere on Wall Street,


(AAPL) - Get Report

recently had a brokerage raise its price target to $44. Task is wary about stepping into Apple right here (about $37.50), saying it could see slowing growth. Has there been saturation in iPod-land? Perhaps, says Task, who adds that "fashion is fickle."

Task also mentioned Deutsche Bank's surprisingly positive note Wednesday on

Warner Music Group

( WMG). Deutsche set a price target of $22 on a stock currently trading at $16, predicting that digital revenue will grow.

Task disagreed, however, saying that digital revenue is a small growth business in an overall declining content industry. "Profit margins are getting cut," cautioned Task.

In terms of downgrades, Task liked UBS' decision to lower its rating on


(GME) - Get Report

while raising its price target. "No sin in taking money off the table," said Task, even if it is one of Cramer's favorites.

Task also had no issues with CSFB's downgrades of

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report


Ryland Group


. Homebuilding stocks have been tremendous performers, said Task, who advised taking profits if you can.


contributor Chris Edmonds was Task's special guest Wednesday to comment on energy stocks and oil prices, which settled at a new record.

Task compared the different oil outlooks put forward by the major brokerage houses. On one hand, Morgan Stanley issued a report saying oil will fall, while Goldman Sachs saw the potential for a "super spike" past $100 earlier this year.

So who's right?

Edmonds says tropical storms Dennis and Cindy are behind the recent surge in oil prices. He says the current price above $60 may be a little frothy, but "$50-plus is more likely and feels more comfortable than $30."

Edmonds suggested buying energy stocks on dips or a price correction in oil. His top picks are drillers


(NBR) - Get Report


Patterson-UTI Energy

(PTEN) - Get Report


Edmonds says Nabors has the best rig fleet across the spectrum, meaning deep and shallow wells. It also has significant international operations.

Elsewhere in the energy space, Edmonds says the easy gas has been found "so we have to drill deeper, which means companies like

FMC Technologies

(FTI) - Get Report

should thrive." He expects FMC to see more orders from the


(CVX) - Get Report

of the world.

On that note, Edmonds said that Chevron probably wins the battle for


( UCL), but will be forced to push its bid a little higher. "


(CEO) - Get Report

wants the Asian assets anyway, so it could just get split up."

Aaron L. Task is the co-executive editor of TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to