CHANGE IN RATINGSAssurant ( AIZ) upgraded at Keybanc from Hold to Buy. $65 price target. Company deserves a premium multiple to its peers, given its above-average 16.5% ROE. Estimates also raised, to reflect higher returns in the specialty property division. Apollo Group ( APOL) upgraded at Baird from Neutral to Outperform. $80 price target. Positive enrollment trends are helping to improve margins. The company's international joint venture should also help drive growth. Check Point Software ( CHKP) downgraded by Jefferies. Rating lowered to Neutral from Buy. 2007 EPS estimates raised $1.57 from $1.55. Price target lowered to $28 from $30. Diamond Offshore ( DO) upgraded at Morgan Stanley from underweight to overweight and moves price target to $145. Frontier Airlines ( FRNT) upgraded at JP Morgan from Underweight to Overweight. Competition is cutting back on capacity and the company's RASM should continue to accelerate. Estimates also raised. Gold Fields ( GFI) upgraded at Goldman Sachs to Buy from Neutral based on valuation and leverage to gold prices. Note that company offers highest leverage to today's bullish gold price upgrade. Believe risk profile has improved with divestiture of assets in Venezuela and Burkina Faso. Production start-up at Cerro Corona (Peru) provides another driver for 2008. Price target increased to $23 from $19. Hub Group ( HUBG) downgraded at Baird from Outperform to Neutral. $31 price target. Intermodal volume and overall pricing was disappointing in the third quarter. Estimates also cut, and the stock lacks near-term catalysts.
Jarden ( JAH) upgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Buy. $42 price target. Stock is down 28% over the past three months, and the near-term estimates are likely low enough for the company to exceed. Channel checks suggest strong sales, and Jarden is expected to realize synergies from the K2 purchase. Mobile Mini ( MINI) downgraded at Deutsche from Buy to Hold. $22 price target. Estimates also cut, to reflect the company's recent warning. Operating costs remain high. Pall ( PLL) upgraded at Baird from Neutral to Outperform. $49 price target. Valuation call, as the company's business lines usually perform well later in the business cycle. Teradyne ( TER) upgraded at Citigroup from Hold to Buy. $17 price target. Most test assembly subcontractors are expecting a 5% to 10% year-over-year CapEx increase for 2008. Fundamentals and valuation are both at trough levels. Texas Instruments ( TXN) downgraded at JP Morgan to Neutral. Company posted strong earnings, but is losing market share in its wireless business. Book-to-bill also fell below 1.0. Texas Instruments downgraded by Jefferies. Rating lowered to Hold from Buy. 2007 EPS estimates lowered to $1.78 from $1.80. Price target lowered to $37 from $43. Texas Instruments downgraded by UBS. Rating lowered to Neutral from Buy. 2007 EPS estimates lowered to $1.77 from $1.81. Price target lowered to $38 from $44.
Union Pacific ( UNP) upgraded at Goldman Sachs to a Buy rating from Neutral. See continuing cost control leading to operating margin expansion. Also note that UNP is only Class-1 railroad experiencing volume growth in current weak environment. Price target raised to $141 from $131. Watsco ( WSO) upgraded at Baird from Neutral to Outperform. $47 price target. Stock is already pricing in poor housing and landscape market, and the 4% dividend yield is attractive. Zions Bancorp ( ZION) downgraded by UBS. Rating lowered to Neutral from Buy. 2007 EPS estimates cut to $5.35 from $5.50. Price target cut to $68 from $89. Zoran ( ZRAN) upgraded at CIBC from Sector Perform to Outperform. $28 price target. Company posted solid third quarter results, and is sitting on nearly $7 a share of cash. Stock is also valued at a 21% discount to its peers. Zoran 2007 estimates raised at Jefferies to $1.34 from $1.21. Maintains Buy rating and $26 price target.
STOCK COMMENTS / EPS CHANGESApple ( AAPL) 2008 estimates raised at Deutsche Bank by 15 cents to $4.60 a share following strong quarterly results. Target raised to $225, maintained Buy rating. Apple target price raised at Credit Suisse to $210 from $185 after company posted better than expected Q4 results. Maintained Outperform rating. Apple 2008 estimates raised at Goldman to $4.88 from $4.54 based on continuing strength in product sales. Company is seeing building strength from new iPods, with ramp expected in holiday season. Note that iPhones have been delivering above forecasts since price cut. Expect positive gross margin impact from Leopard, new operating system set to launch this week. Price target raised to $205 from $190 and maintained Buy rating.
Albemarle ( ALB) estimates trimmed at Jefferies. 2007 EPS estimates lowered to $2.30 from $2.33. Maintains $55 price target and Buy rating. American Express ( AXP) 2007 estimates raised at FBR by 4 cents to $3.56 a share following a strong Q3 performance. Maintained Market Perform rating. American Express target lowered at Goldman to $72 from $77, following Q3 results that showed provisions for loans up 45% year over year. Positives included lower recurring tax rate and lower operating expenses. Maintained Buy rating. Celanese ( CE) estimates increased at Goldman to $3.16 from $3.05. Q3 results showed better than expected earnings and guidance, with upside coming from higher Acetyl Intermediates results. See continuing earnings momentum going forward. Maintained Buy rating and $45 target. CGG-Veritas ( CGV) estimates lowered at Jefferies. 2007 EPS estimates lowered to $2.68 from $2.79. Maintains $77 price target and Buy rating. Freeport McMoRan ( FCX) price target raised at Goldman to $135 from $130 based on increased price forecast for gold. Believe macroeconomic fundamentals have aligned for a stronger gold price environment with lower U.S. GDP and weakening dollar. Maintained Buy rating on FCX. Freeport-McMoRan target price raised at Deutsche from $110 to $145 due to strong copper outlook and company's leverage to prices. Hexcel ( HXL) estimates raised at Jefferies. 2007 EPS estimates raised to $0.70 from $0.68. Maintains $25 price target and Buy rating.
Netflix ( NFLX) numbers raised at Jefferies. 2007 EPS estimates raised to $0.98 from $0.84. Price targets raised to $26 from $16. Maintains Hold rating. Netflix 2007 estimates raised at Credit Suisse to 88 cents from 71 cents following strong Q3 results. Raised target price to $30 from $23. Schlumberger ( SLB) price target raised by Jefferies to $110 from $108. Maintain 2007 EPS estimates of $4.20 and Buy rating. St Mary Land ( SM) estimates raised at Jefferies. 2007 EPS estimates raised to $3.18 from $3.12. Maintains $38 price target and Hold rating. THQ ( THQI) 2008 estimates cut at Deutsche Bank by 54 cents to $76 cents a share following negative preannouncement. Maintained Hold rating. THQ numbers lowered by UBS. Fiscal 2008 EPS estimates lowered to $0.80 from $1.27. Price target lowered to $27 from $28. Maintains Neutral rating.