Will This Upgrade Have A Positive Impact On Reynolds American (RAI) Stock Today?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (BAC) on Wednesday.

The firm said it upgraded its rating on the holding company, which operates subsidiaries in the cigarette and related tobacco products industry, based on favorable industry pricing trends, recent changes in management, the possibility of a merger with Lorillard Inc. (LO), and continuing collaboration with British American Tobacco (BTI).

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch raised its price target on Reynolds America to $65 from $63.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC (RAI) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 3.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Tobacco industry and the overall market, REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC's earnings per share declined by 31.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.14 versus $2.24 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.35 versus $3.14).
  • The gross profit margin for REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC is rather high; currently it is at 53.13%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 18.75% trails the industry average.
  • RAI's share price has surged by 25.21% over the past year, reflecting the market's general trend, despite their weak earnings growth during the last quarter. We feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: RAI Ratings Report
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