7 Stocks With Recent Analyst Upgrades

NEW YORK (Stockpickr) -- At Stockpickr, we track daily portfolios of stocks with analyst upgrades and analyst downgrades. With a Stockpickr account (sign up here), you can elect to receive email alerts when a stock in one of your user-generated portfolios shows up when we update these and other lists, including Insider Buys, Stocks With Unusual Options Activity and Top Percentage Gainers.

We also track the top 30 holdings of various professional investors, including Warren Buffett and George Soros, according to their most recent 13F filings with the SEC.

Related: Top 10 Warren Buffett Dividend Stocks

Today, we're taking a closer look at some recent stocks that have been upgraded by analysts and that also show up in at least one of Stockpickr's professional portfolios.

MGM Resorts International

Casino resort operator MGM ( MGM) was recently upgrade to hold from sell at Citigroup, reflecting the refinancing of its CityCenter debt as well as signs of recovery in Las Vegas.

MGM shows up in the portfolio of John Paulson at Paulson & Co., comprising 2.2% of his total portfolio.

Stock Fundamentals: MGM has traded in a 52-week range of $8.92 to $16.85 and closed at $16.76 on Friday. It has a market cap of $7.9 billion and a 2.7 short interest ratio.

Analyst Ratings: Of 24 analysts covering the stock, six rate it a buy, 15 rate it a hold, and 3 rate it a sell. TheStreet Ratings has a D hold rating on MGM.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect MGM to report a loss of 23 cents a share in the most recent quarter, compared with a loss of 25 cents in the year-ago quarter, and a full-year loss of $1.09, compared with a loss of 92 cents in the previous year.

More on MGM: MGM ranked No. 3 in a recent poll of TheStreet readers to determine the casino stock winners of 2011; competitor Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) wa No. 1. Last month, Roberto Pedone highlighted MGM as one of four stocks poised to break out, foreseeing further upside for the stock.

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Verizon

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Verizon ( VZ) received both an upgrade and a downgrade from analysts on Jan. 12. Goldman, which has a $42 price target on the stock, boosted its rating to buy, saying its consensus estimats hadn't factored in Verizon's potential wireless growth. Deutsche Bank, however, lowered its rating on Verizon to hold from buy, based on its $36 price target.

Verizon receives considerable attention from the portfolios Stockpickr tracks. 1% of the ever-popular portfolio of George Soros at Soros Fund Management is in Verizon. Even more notable is that Soros increased his position in the stock by 13,800% in the most recent quarter. Verizon makes up 2% of Moore Capital's portfolio, which also increased its position last quarter, by 23.4%. Other holders include Mason Hawkins, Charles Brandes and Arnold Van Den Berg.

Stock Fundamentals: Verizon has traded in a 52-week range of $24.77 to $37.70 and closed at $35.46 on Friday. It has a market cap of $101.2 billion and a 3.6 short interest ratio. It has a hearty dividend yield of 5.4% and is one of 2011's highest-yielding Dogs of the Dow.

Analyst Ratings: Of 30 analysts covering the stock, 10 rate it a buy, 20 rate it a hold, and one rates it a strong sell. TheStreet Ratings has a B buy rating on Verizon, earning it a spot on the Top-Rated Telecommunications Stocks list.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect Verizon to earn 55 cents in the most-recent quarter, up a penny from the same quarter last year, and $2.24 for the full year, compared with $2.40 in the prior year.

More on Verizon: At long last, the Verizon iPhone will arrive in February. According to Robert Holmes, Verizon was determined by fund managers to be one of the best dividend stocks to play defense in 2011. Jim Cramer recently included the stock in his updated Diversified Dividend Portfolio.

Lear

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Lear ( LEA) was upgraded at Barclays to overweight from equalweight, due to sales growth as the economy recovers. Barclays raised its price target on Lear to $123 from $94.

Metropolitan Capital Advisors, co-managed by "Fast Money"'s Karen Finerman, owns Lear, at 1.5% of the total portfolio, as does Wilbur Ross at 1.1% of the total portfolio and Turod Investment's Paul Tudor Jones at 0.1%.

Stock Fundamentals: Lear and its affiliates design and manufacture complete automotive seat systems and the components thereof, as well as electrical distribution systems and electronic products. Lear trades in a 52-week range of $58 to $112.30 and closed on Friday at $109.36. It has a short ratio of 4.5.

Analyst Ratings: Of 11 analysts covering the stock, nine rate it a buy, one rates it a hold, and one rates it a sell. TheStreet Ratings has a C hold rating on Lear.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect Lear to earn $1.80 a share in the most recent quarter, compared with $1.21 in the same quarter the year before, and $8.29 for the full year, compared with a loss of $2.66 in the previous year.

More on Lear: Andrea Tse included Lear in a recap of three auto supplier stocks symbolic of the auto industry rebound. 

Target

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Goldman upgraded Target ( TGT) to buy, citing the company's position to benefit from an improving economy.

Target is one of the top holdings of Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital, comprising 18.7% of the total portfolio. It's also owned by Ruane Cunniff and Highbridge Capital Management.

Stock Fundamentals: Target is engaged in the operation of general merchandise and food discount stores in the U.S. It's trading in a 52-week range of $48.23 to $60.97 and closed on Friday at $55.07. It yields 1.8% and has a 2.4 short ratio. It trades at a P/E of 14.6.

Analyst Ratings: Of 24 analysts covering the stock, 19 rate it a strong buy, one rates it a moderate buy and four rate it a hold. TheStreet Ratings has a B buy rating on Target, earning it a spot on the Top-Rated Multiline Retail Stocks list.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect target to earn $1.40 in the most-recent quarter, compared with $1.24 in the prior-year quarter, and $3.91 for the full year, compared with $3.30 in the previous year.

More on Target: Target recently announced that it will be expanding into Canada and possibly selling its credit card business. The stocks was one of five retail stock losers in 2010, but Action Alerts PLUS' Stephanie Link considers it one of the top three retail stocks for 2011. In December, Target made the list of top stocks with large insider selling after insiders dumped $28.3 million worth of stock. 

Chipotle

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Chipotle ( CMG) was upgraded to overweight from neutral at Piper Jaffray, with a $265 price target, which cited its market-leader status and attractive demographic trends.

Louis Navellier at Navellier & Associates initiated a new position in Chipotle in the most-recent quarter that makes up 2.3% of his total portfolio. Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies also favors the stock, increasing its position by 422.43% in the most-recent quarter.

Stock Fundamentals: Chipotle Mexican Grill develops and operates fast-casual, fresh Mexican food restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. The stock is trading in a 52-week range of $93.81 to $262.78 and closed on Friday at $234.89. It has a short interest ratio of 2.2. Chipotle trades with a P/E of 44.5.

Analyst Ratings: Of 25 analysts covering the stock, 11 rate it a strong by, and 14 rate it a hold. TheStreet Ratings has a B+ buy rating on the stock, earning it a spot on the Top-Rated Restaurant and Hotel Stocks list.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect Chipotle to earn $1.29 a share in the most-recent quarter, compared with 99 cents in the year-ago quarter, and $5.42 for the full year, compared with $3.95 in the previous year.

More on Chipotle: Chipotle was one of the 10 restaurant stock winners of 2010 and was one of Jim Cramer's FADS CAN stocks. 

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Exxon Mobil ( XOM) was upgraded to outperform from perform at Oppenheimer, with a $90 price target. Oppenheimer said that higher oil prices should allow Exxon to accelerate its buyback program.

Exxon shows up in several Stockpickr professional portfolios, including as 3% of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and 2.2% of Brian Rogers' portfolio at the T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund (PRFDX). Other holders include Tom Gayner, Viking Global Investors and Richard Perry at Perry capital.

Stock Fundamentals: ExxonMobil is engaged in the exploration, production, transportation and sale of crude oil and natural gas and the manufacture, transportation and sale of petroleum products. It's trading in a 52-week range of $55.94 to $76.82 and closed on Friday at $77.84. It has a dividend yield of 2.3%, a short ratio of 1.9 and a P/E of 13.6.

Analyst Ratings: Of 19 analysts covering the stock, seven rate it a buy, and 12 rate it a hold. TheStreet Ratings rates it a B+ buy, earning Exxon a spot on the Top-Rated Oil & Gas Stocks list.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect Exxon to earn $1.56 a share in the most-recent quarter, up from $1.27 a share in the year-ago quarter, and $5.92 for the full year, up from $4.01 in the previous year.

More on Exxon Mobil: Dan Dicker highlighted Exxon as one of his top commodity stocks for 2011, and it was one of the top 10 stocks for 2011 of Michael K. Farr, managing director at Farr, Miller & Washington. According to Jake Lynch, Exxon is one of 10 Dow Stocks with the best three-year dividend growth.

PPG Industries

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PPG Industries ( PPG) was another stock to receive both an analyst upgrade and downgrade recently. Goldman Sachs boosted its rating on the stock to buy from neutral and added PPG to its Conviction Buy list, noting that the company should benefit from cheap natural gas. Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, downgraded the stock to underweight from overweight based on its $89 price target.

PPG comprises 1.5% of one of our most frequently viewed portfolios, that of Ken Fisher. It's also a top 30 holding of Richard Pzena at Pzena Investment Management.

Stock Fundamentals: PPG Industries in a manufacturer of coatings, glass and chemical products. It's trading in a 52-week range of $56.96 to 85.05 and closed on Friday at $83.14. It has a dividend yield of 2.7%, short interest ratio of 7.4 and P/E ratio of 19.4.

Analyst Ratings: Of 13 analysts covering the stock, four rate it a buy, eight rate it a hold, and one rates it a sell. TheStreet Ratings has a B+ buy rating on PPG.

Earnings Estimates: Analysts expect PPG to earn $1.12 in the most-recent quarter, compared with 86 cents in the year-ago quarter, and $5.04 for the year, compared with $2.94 in the prior year.

More on PPG Industries: Jim Cramer recently called PPG one of the greatest American manufacturers.

To see these stocks in action, check out the 7 Stocks With Recent Analyst Upgrades portfolio.

-- Written by Rebecca Corvino in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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